Thursday, September 18, 2008

Speaker to focus on religion factors in Presidential election

With the U.S. Presidential election less than two months away, the influence of religion on the national political scene has been a hot button issue. Why is religion more socially and politically significant in the U.S. than in other developed countries? How does religion impact American politics? And to what extent do religious affiliation, practice and belief affect the way citizens view candidates and issues?

Unpacking those and other questions one month before the polls open will be Dr. Laura Olson,Prof. Laura Olson a Clemson University political science professor whose career focus has concentrated on religion and the American political scene. She’ll give two presentations Tuesday, October 7, at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, in a program sponsored by the seminary’s Faith and Life Institute. Both presentations in the seminary’s Brossman Learning Center (Benbow Hall) are free and open to the public.

At 11:30 am Dr. Olson will discuss “The American Religious Marketplace” and will discuss how the social and political significance of religion, while complicated, has its essential roots in the reality that religion in the United States is and always has been profoundly “deregulated by the state.” She’ll delve into the historical reasons for such deregulation and comment on how deregulation plays a central role in the way Americans understand politics – and themselves.

At 7 pm, Dr. Olson will consider “Religion, American Politics and the 2008 Presidential Election.” Dr. Olson notes that many observers cite the significance of religion in political discussions in the United States. In what specific ways does religion influence American politics? How will religious factors impact the outcome of the 2008 run for the Presidency?

Dr. Olson has taught at Clemson since 1996 and directs undergraduate studies at the school. She holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin—Madison and in her thesis focused on the “Political Involvement of Protestant Clergy.” The author of several books, she has a pending volume entitled Generals Without an Army? The Protestant Left in American Politics (Georgetown University Press).

Ample parking is available on campus - we suggest you check for latest directions due to Germantown Avenue construction near campus.

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