Religion can mean different things to different people. While modern secular thought has permeated religious and communal life, traditional understandings of religion are still vibrant while fundamentalist and religion-based nationalisms have surged despite globalization. Wars of culture and power based on the different understandings of the interplay between religion, society and state rage in America and throughout the world. What this course aims to explore most intently is how the diverse perceptions of religion have impacted problems of identity, spirituality, democracy, and peace. This course will unpack this set of complex dynamics by drawing from cultural studies, history and current politics. Toward this end the course will examine how religious and secular notions have impacted the integration of new religious communities and state formation or dissolution. What will be unique about this course is the idea that religion can be a source of harmony and peacemaking as it has been a source of division and conflict.