Religion in American Life

Internet Based

PHIL 145

Term:Spring, 2013 (January - May)
Revision:31 De 12
Class Time:One online lecture weekly.
You should set aside two definite times each week to work.
Instructor:Frank Daniels
Instructor e-mail address: You need to know this! Do not e-mail your instructor through WebCampus!
Frank Daniels
Great Basin College Ely Branch Campus
2115 Bobcat Drive
Ely, NV 89301
(775) 289-3589 (office)
(775) 289-3599 (college fax)

Textbook: America: Religions and Religion, Fifth Edition, by Catherine Albanese.
ISBN 978-1-133-05002-5.
This book may be ordered through your outlet of choice.

Class Conditions:

  1. You must be using a Windows-based system.
  2. You must have your own access to the Internet through a commercial provider and know how to login to your account.
  3. You must know how to use a web browser.
  4. You must have a Web browser and e-mail. The class assumes you are using Firefox or Internet Explorer.
  5. You must have e-mail account somewhere to send and receive feedback. The class assumes that you know how to properly use e-mail and your web browser.
  6. The course requires weekly participation in a discussion group in the WebCampus atmosphere. The course assumes that you either are familiar with WebCampus or will attend a WebCampus orientation in your area to become familiar with WebCampus.

Class Description:

This course covers the history and organization of religious groups in America, with special attention being given to the relationships between religious convictions and social issues such as racial issues, sexual mores, and political affiliation.

This course is NOT "self-paced". You must participate in a weekly discussion and read certain readings. Remember that you have a "live" instructor who will answer your questions -- this is not a correspondence course.

Course Objectives:

The student will survey various religions and groups of religions, hopefully better understanding several sides of the issues surrounding these groups. The student should gain an appreciation for the role of religion in United States history.

Learning Outcomes:

The successful student will be able to --

In order to accurately measure competency in these outcomes, various instructional and diagnostic elements are employed. These are described below.

Instructional Methods:

Each week, there will be assigned readings from the book, which will be mentioned on each week at the top of the lecture page. In addition to those readings, the lecture will often cover material related to but different from the material in the textbook, usually focusing on a particular group or groups. These lectures will appear on the course's website. Students are expected to participate in the discussions of each week's material.

Measurements, Course Assignments:

There will be two class assignments. The first of these will consist of a short response paper. The response paper should be a two to five page summary, typed and double spaced, comparing several of the religious groups' beliefs and/or histories. The groups selected may be groups whose beliefs/histories we have covered, will cover later, or do not mention in the PHIL 145 lectures -- so long as you can find source material. You may also attach the paper to an e-mail, saved in Micrsoft Word format. Do not send your paper in the body of an e-mail message. The paper must arrive at GBC Ely no later than 5PM Pacific Time on the Friday of week 6. I will accept the paper anytime on or after the Friday of week 3. See also "More About the Papers," below.

The second assignment will be a comprehensive look at one group, the issues surrounding the group, and as much history as necessary. Alternatively, you may present a single issue as viewed by two religious groups. Both (all) sides of the issues must be presented fairly. Feel free to draw conclusions about the group or issue! You will not lose points for drawing a particular conclusion, but points will be deducted if all sides are not presented fairly -- as that group or side would present their views. This paper is flexible, and you may choose to focus it more on the issue than the groups, but how the religious groups impact the issue(s) in America must be part of the paper.
This research paper must cite (and list) at least three scholarly sources excluding online encyclopedias, blogs, and other opinion-related articles and must be ten to twenty pages in length, typed, double-spaced. See also "More About the Papers," below. TITLE PAGES, BIBLIOGRAPHY, and pages consisting mostly of PICTURES do not count toward the page total. You must submit a final topic by 5PM Pacific Time on the Friday that ends week 7.I must approve the choice of final topics.

You may submit a final topic any time on or after the Friday of Week 4, and one reason that a topic might be rejected is that others in the class have chosen a similar topic. Therefore, it is best to submit a choice of final topics soon. This final paper must be reach me in Ely no later than 5PM Pacific Time, on the Monday of Week 15. I will accept the final paper any time on or after April 1st.

Contact Note:

Never -- under any circumstances -- try to use WebCampus e-mail to contact the instructor. I have deactivated WebCampus mail for myself and have removed it from the course. If you try to contact me that way, I will not receive your e-mail. Please use only "regular" e-mail, and write to me to the address indicated above.

Likewise, do not submit assignments to me via WebCampus. Attach your papers to an e-mail message, and send that message to If you attempt to submit an assignment through WebCampus, you will receive no points for that assignment!

Calendar Note:

NOTE about Spring Break: During Spring semesters, there is a one week break in "live" and IAV classes. This class ignores all holidays and continues straight through the break. Two lessons will appear during that week just as in any other week.

Withdrawal Policy

If you determine that you wish to drop the course prior to its conclusion, it is necessary for you to officially drop, either online through the college's website, or by visiting one of our college campuses and submitting a drop form. Any student who does not officially drop will receive a grade at the conclusion of the course. These grades will be based on the number of points that you have accumulated (see below).
If you do not officially drop the course as described above, by taking this class you agree that your "last date of attendance" for official purposes will be the last day of your active participation in this course. If there should be a gap in your participation, your last date of attendance may be the last date prior to the gap. Since this may affect your financial aid, it behooves you to drop officially or to complete the entire course.

Due Dates

NOTE about Due Dates:
Each week of the semester starts on Saturday and ends on Friday. The semester consists of sixteen consecutive weeks. Without exception, two lessons are posted each of the first 15 weeks. Therefore, if you are unable to determine what week we are on, divide the lesson number of Thursday's lesson by two.

All of the items are due on the day of the week (Monday, Friday) specified in the above paragraphs. If any numeral dates are given, the numerical dates are secondary and are provided only as a convenience. If a numerical date or dates does not match the day of the week given, it is the day of the week that is correct.

Each week's discussion of course material given in the lessons is due at 7PM on the day before the following lesson appears.

Assignment Date of Earliest Acceptance Due Date
Comparison of Groups Friday of Week 3 Friday of Week 6
Topic for In-Depth Paper Friday of Week 4 Friday of Week 7
In-Depth Report April 1st Monday of Week 15

More About the Papers

Both papers must have 1 side, top, and bottom margins and be typed in a 12 point ("normal looking") font. The first thing I am going to do is check the length. Short papers will have a letter grade deducted. Your comparison and your in-depth report should make sure to deal with the issues themselves, not merely repeating historical materials. Both papers must treat all groups and issues fairly. Your papers will not be graded on style or grammar. They should be written as well as you are able, however. The papers will be mailed back to you only if you request them and provide mailing information.

Grades will be based on the successful and timely completion of the assignments and on participation in the weekly discussion.

All papers must be saved in .doc (document), .docx (XML), or .rtf (rich text) format.


The class is graded on participation and the various assignments, as follows:
Class participation Notice how important this is! 30 points total
Response Paper 20 points
Final Topic Submitted and Approved on time 10 points
Final Report 40 points

Therefore, the total number of points available for the semester is 100 points. The number of points required to obtain each grade is as follows:

A 90
B+ 85
B 80
C+ 75
C 70
D+ 65
D 60
F 0

Obtaining Your Grades

You are responsible for counting up your own participation points. Simply add two points per topic for substantive comments. Your instructor will add these only at the end.

When you have sent an approved topic, and when that topic has been approved, you will receive an e-mail indicating that the professor has approved your topic. If you have done all of this on time, you will receive ten (10) points; otherwise, you will receive no points for topic submission.

Beginning six calendar days after the due date of the Response Paper, you may inquire of the professor by e-mail as to your grade on the Response Paper. The professor will then write back with your score, and with any comments that he made regarding the paper. Was it too short? Was it late? Were points hard to follow? The professor's comments will address these issues.

The same policy applies to the Final Report as applies for the Response Paper.

If you do not ask for your grades in a timely fashion -- keeping in touch with the professor by e-mail -- then you will not receive them. It is your responsibility to ask for grade information.

Calculating Your Score Mid-Semester

Although I will also have this information, since it is easy to do so it is your responsibility to keep a running total of your own participation throughout the semester.
At any point during the semester you may determine how you are doing in the class. Add your points so far all of the points for participation and the written assignments that have occurred so far. Divide this sum by the number of available points so far. This will give your grade in decimal form. Multiplying that result by 100 will give you a percentage. For example, if there were 110 available points at some point during the semester, and you have accumulated 77 of them, then your percentage to date is: 7700/110 = 70. Your grade to date would be a C, based on the scale given above.

Academic Integrity:

The Nevada System of Higher Education Code (Board of Regents Handbook section 6.2.2q) expressly forbids all forms of academic dishonesty, including (but not limited to) all forms of cheating, copying, and plagiarism. Students who are discovered cheating will be assigned zero points for the current assignment. If the cheating is believed to be widespread -- to involve other students and/or to cover more than one assignment or test -- then all students involved will receive "F" grades for the course and will be brought to the GBC Academic Officers for prosecution. I will normally recommend that students found guilty in that instance be placed on one year disciplinary probation.

Starting from scratch:

This class is accessed from the Internet. Therefore, I'll need to know that you're out there and ready. Send me an e-mail message -- through "regular" e-mail and NOT through WebCampus -- telling me you are ready to begin. Do this by the Friday of Week 1. If you need to find some help to get started, you can always e-mail or phone me at the college building.

Course Schedule:

Keep up with the course schedule. If you get behind it may prove difficult to catch up.

Week Topics and Readings
Week 1 Native American Religions America, Chapter 1
Week 2 Judaism America, Chapter 2
Week 3 Catholicism America, Chapter 3
Week 4 Protestants America, Chapter 4
Week 5 Baptists America, Chapter 5
Week 6 Africans in America America, Chapter 6
Week 7 The Latter-Day Saints America, pp. 159-165
Week 8 The Stone-Campbell Movement Not in Textbook
Week 9 Other New Groups of the 19th Century America, pp. 166-182
Week 10 The Occult, Witchcraft, etc.. America, Chapter 8
Week 11 Eastern Religions, Part One: Islam America, pp. 207-220
Week 12 Eastern Religions, Part Two: Hinduism and Buddhism America, pp. 221-236
Week 13 Mountain Religion Not in Textbook
Week 14 The New Age; Eclectic Religion America, Chapter 10
Week 15 Civil Religion America, Chapter 11

Online readings will supplement most weeks' material.

The course ends on the Monday of week 16.

Getting started:

  1. Purchase the book ahead of time.
  2. Have your Internet access installed and ready. Know your user name.
  3. Obtain a WebCampus account automatically through the mail or by writing to the Tech Desk, and familiarize yourself with the WebCampus environment. The lessons will appear in the Calendar.
  4. Retrieve your first lesson, which will be posted as a web page (you'll find a link in the Course Calendar in WebCampus). If you have access to WebCampus but cannot get to the lesson by Friday of week 1, write to me via e-mail!
  5. Read the material for week 1 and comment to the list about it.
  6. As you finish the assignments, e-mail me, telling me that you have completed them (so that I will know to expect them soon).
  7. You should wait until the due dates are approaching to mail the papers, (see above), but you do not have to wait until the "last minute."
  8. NOTE: The book contains very detailed histories with not much discussion of the issues surrounding these groups. The histories are illuminating, but do not get bogged down in the details. Most of the discussion should center around the issues, if the class is to work properly. Do not stray "off topic." Do not be afraid to state your honest opinion.
  9. The Instructor may choose to participate in the discussion, taking one side or more than one side of the various issues, often raising questions for further discussion and reflection. Therefore, do not be concerned about disagreeing with the instructor, or with other students.
Good luck!

All lessons are 1999, 2013 Frank Daniels
and are Licensed to Great Basin College