Religion and politics are a specialty for senior Logan Channer and the inspiration behind his senior project. Channer said this focus came from a very complicated religious history he had growing up. Channer’s dad was constantly changing his religious practices and at some point or another had been a Christian, Mormon, Jew, Muslim or Hindu, just to name a few. Through this experience, the Politics and Government major gained an extensive knowledge on religion.
Channer mentioned how talk of a religious government in America is likely a bad idea, but he figured there had to be a way that people of other countries could decide democratically on a religious government. The idea for his project came about when he was attempting to determine principles one would have to apply to have a system with both strong democratic and religious components.
His project examines past and potential future combinations between democratic and religious institutions. The main focus is on Calvin’s Geneva and Modern Iran, models of past and present governments with both democratic and religious elements. Channer formed several principles that, when applied, help counties avoid problems that occurred in pervious religious democracies.
The most interesting thing Channer came across while he was doing research for his project was that Calvin’s Geneva and the Iranian system were both religious democracies that became oppressive, but that they did so for completely different reasons. He also notes that the two systems were different in a variety of ways that didn’t pertain to their religious differences, which suggested to him that there must be several ways to approach religious democracy, as well as many ways for things to fall apart.
One difficulty that arose when Channer began working on his project was finding positive research about theocracies. He found out that the word “theocracy” has an automatic stigma of being bad, so someone recommended using the term “religious democracy.” Another thing Channer found rather difficult was coming up with his own criteria of what effectively made a nation sufficiently religious to compare with the more direct criteria for democracy.
Channer said he encourages people to attend his presentation because it gives multicultural views that dismiss the general misunderstanding that religion in government must always be bad.
He will present at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25 in Marsh Hall room 206.