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Assignment Questions

Catholic Church and politics in the United States and Spain


Thesis statement which should serve as the overarching theme of the work:

In my work I hope to establish a parallel between the experiences of the Catholic Churchand politics in the United States and Spain through the examination of the church?s role in political history and its influence in public policy. In establishing these parallels, I hope to draw inferences about the political development of the two cases. Namely, in understanding the relationship between the Catholic Church and politics in Spain and the United States, I hope to draw inferences about why two countries with different religious traditions have managed to develop politically, very similarly in recent times.

Throughout the course of my work, I will concentrate on re-affirming three general claims. First, on a very general level, I look to provide much needed insight into the impact of religion on politics, proving that religion is of fundamental importance in defining contemporary political life. As I mentioned previously, I hope to dispel the claim that religion is only of political relevance when church and state experience conflict. Moreover, I hope to demonstrate that religion is important in a number of political contexts, including its role in the shaping of public policy and its role in shaping political opinions. Secondly, and more specifically, I look to provide insight into the declining/expanding role of the Catholic Church in the secularizing (Spain) and secular society (the United States). This comparative study of two politically and religiously diverse countries will allow me to highlight differences and maintain similarities between the experiences of the CatholicChurch in politics in the two countries. By highlighting differences between the two, I will confirm the work of many, while by maintaining similarities, I hope to direct attention to overlapping areas often overlooked in contemporary political literature.

Guidelines/page length:

How has the Catholic Church (in Spain and the United States) altered the debate on abortion, religion and education (school prayer), and censorship from the 1970’s until present day? That is, how have they shown influence in politics through these issues? *30 pages*

*10 pages on the political history of Catholicism in the United States since the 1970’s, highlight this history without looking at public policy issues (Catholicism and party identification, voting behavior, connections with politics)

Why have these issues been important in defining the expansion of power in the CatholicChurch?

Compare the impact of the Catholic Church on abortion policy in the US and Spain (also mention Spain’s ordeal with divorce) citing evidence from 1970 to present day

Compare the impact of the Catholic Church on religion and education policy in the US and Spain, citing evidence from 1970 to present day

Compare the impact of the Catholic Church on censorship (media, literature) in the US and Spain, citing evidence from 1970 to present day

Include relevant statistics and charts to support claims of the church‘s increasing influence, as well as in depth analysis of Supreme court cases which involve the issues I mentioned, where the Catholic Church has demonstrated its influence (eg Roe v Wade, etc).

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