The United States is home to a stunning array of religious groups. In past generations, this religious pluralism—however broadly conceived—was popularly understood to be an enriching component of American society. With the rise of mass and social media and ideological tribalism, however, the voices of those who perceive pluralism as a threat or a public problem have grown louder. With the value of American religious pluralism under increasingly intense scrutiny, the time is ripe to assess its strengths, weaknesses, and future viability.
This Upper House (Christian) reading group, co-led by Dan Hummel (Christian) and Charles Cohen (Jewish), is intended to facilitate a robust and civic conversation on the past and future of religious pluralism. We will meet over the spring semester to discuss four recent books, two offering general defenses of pluralism (John Inazu’s Confident Pluralism and Eboo Patel’s Out of Many Faiths) and two exploring current illiberal responses to pluralism (Jonathan Sacks’ Not in God’s Name and Philip Gorski and Samuel Perry’s The Flag and the Cross).
Learning Cohort Size
20 people (wait list is available)
Meeting Times and Location
Fridays, 8:30-10 AM — February 10, March 10, March 31, and May 5
Upper House, 365 East Campus Mall, Suite 200
Each participant will need to read the following books. (You can purchase directly from the linked publisher or through your preferred vendor; you can also check them out from your local library.)
Confident Pluralism by John Inazu (University of Chicago Press, 2018)
Out of Many Faiths by Eboo Patel (Princeton University Press, 2nd ed., 2019)
Not in God’s Name by Jonathan Sacks (Schocken, 2015)
The Flag and the Cross by Philip Gorski and Samuel Perry (Oxford University Press, 2022)
Dan Hummel is Director of University Engagement at Upper House. A historian of U.S. religion, Dan has taught at UW-Madison and writes on a variety of topics related to American religious belief, politics, and culture. He is the author of the forthcoming (Eerdmans, 2023), The Rise and Fall of Dispensationalism: How the Evangelical Battle Over the End Times Shaped a Nation.
Charles Cohen is Emeritus Professor of History and Religious Studies at UW-Madison and co-editor of, among other books, Gods in America: Religious Pluralism in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2013). Most recently he is the author of The Abrahamic Religions: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2020).