Study Guide Questions
Monahan et al, Sociology of Religion: A Reader – Part X, "Alternative Religions"
1. What ARE "alternative religions?" Can you name several of them. How may they
be classified and organized? How many alternative religions are there in the U. S.?
Have they been on the increase or the decrease in the U. S
2. What has been the Army’s official stance towards allowing Wiccans to pursue their
religion? Who has been most opposed to them? Why?
3. According to Melton, are their any historical trends in where and when alternative religions
originated? Why has been the history of Eastern religion in the U. S.?
Are there any countries where alternative religions seem to be more common? What (if any)
role has "communalism" played in the formation of new religions? Can you give
a brief description of each category of the new religions proposed by Melton? Does
the author think that most of the alternative religions will eventually disappear? Explain.
4. Where did the Unification Church have its beginnings? Who started it? What are the
main features of Moonie theology? What rites do they practice?
Who primarily was recruited to follow Moon?
5. What are main tenets of Scientology? Who started it? What is a Thetan? What is "clear?"
What outside groups have they most strongly criticized? How does the Internet
figure into the picture vis-ŕ-vis Scientology?
6. How well does Tabor think the FBI handled the Branch Davidian situation in Waco?
Did Koresh believe that he was the son of God? What are the Seven Seals? What
Did the Branch Davidians believe about the Seven Seals? What is an "apocalyptic
Religion/social movement? Does the author believe that Koresh was just stalling
for time? Explain.
Monahan et al, Sociology of Religion: A Reader – Part XII, "Politics and Religion"
7. Is Krauthmamer's article (taken from Newsweek) in favor of, or opposed to, participation
in politics by religious adherents?
8. What is the "anti-establishment clause?" Was Thomas Jefferson in favor of, or opposed to,
the spirit of this clause?
9. What are some of the main SMOs (social movement organizations) involved in the
New Christian Right in the U. S.?
10. Are Evangelicals, taken as a whole and viewed on the individual level, especially likely
to vote Republican? Explain.
11. What are the main features of a "theology of liberation" (as seen in El Salvador)?
12. What are the four ways given in the text that religion shapes the political culture of groups
13. What does Stephen Carter mean by "the culture of disbelief?"
14. In Casnova's article, what two fundamental changes in the U. S. political system seem to have
greatly impacted the bishops' role in U. S. society?
15. What is Roe vs. Wade? When did it take place?
16. Does Casanova think that the New Christian Right and the Catholic bishops and knowingly
and willingly become allies in the antiabortion controversy? Explain.
17. What is the "Pastoral Letter?" When was it written? What main points does it advocate?
18. Does Casanova think the bishops' position on abortion is consistent with their policies regarding
nuclear war? Explain your answer.
19. What are the "four different levels" of the bishops' speeches according to the article?
20. Of what significance are "the technocratic claims of self-appointed experts" to the main thrust
of the bishops' considerations?
21. According to Wald, how much consensus is there on the number of Evangelicals in the U. S.?
Explain. What seem to be the highest and lowest estimates? Can you explain why these latter two
22. On what specific issues do those who self-identify as members of the New Christian Right seem to
most often agree? What is/are the major causes of disagreement within the larger category composed
of such persons?
23. Who is the Rev. Jerry Falwell? How well regarded is he among Americans in general? Among
Evangelicals, what characteristics best distinguish Falwell supporters?
24. Why did the religious right decide to support Ronald Reagan? How likely was this based on
Reagan's personal characteristics? Explain.
25. What is the Gallup Poll's definition of evangelical? Are there any problems with this manner of
26. What proportion of those self-identifying as "born-again" Christians gave a sophisticated
definition of the term?
27. Are there significant numbers of black and Catholic evangelicals?
28. What are the denominations that form the hard core of Evangelicalism? Where are they most
likely to be found?
29. How do Evangelicals view "secular humanism?" What problems do they attribute to it?
30. What is it likely that both the Democrats and Republicans will continue to focus largely on
moral concerns in the near-term?
31. In Berryman's article, what was the initial focus of activity by activist priests in El Salvador?
32. Why is a dam important in this article?
33. What type of land ownership is common in El Salvador?
34. Why were soldiers frequently killing peasants and priests in the article?
35. Who was Oscar Romero? Of what importance is he in the article?
36. What is "pastoral de acompanamiento?"
37. What role/s did the U. S. seem to play in the overall situation?
When comparing the science literacy of the UTA student sample from the early 1980s to a sample taken last year, overall which cohort did better? How did they compare for the specific science literacy items shown in the PowerPoint slide show?
For UTA students sampled in 2006, roughly what proportion missed each science literacy item? Which two or three items were missed the most often?
Where does the U. S. rank in the latest poll of science literacy that compares developed nations? Hint, while I told you the answer in lecture, you can also find it here: http://www.smm.org/buzz/buzz_tags/jon_miller
About what percentage of Americans qualify now as scientifically literate?
How are adult stem cells different from embryonic stem cells? Which can be made to produce any type of organ? Which type is more controversial, and why? Which parts of the body can be used to harvest adult stem cells?
Who wrote Frankenstein? Why was this surprising at the time?
How unreasonable was the idea of creating Frankenstein from dead body parts at the time the story was written? Explain.
What two new technologies were much in the public's mind at the time Frankenstein was written?
Who created the first U. S. movie about Frankenstein?
According to the talk by Dr. Christensen re "minimal genomes," what is a "species?" What is "life?" Is using a minimal genome a good way of reducing our dependency on fossil fuels at the current point in time? Explain briefly.
What is the thermohaline circulation? Why is it important?
What caused the most recent Ice Age? Could this happen again in the relatively near future? How does Al Gore think it might happen? Can global warming actually eventually directly cause the cooling of the Earth's climate? Explain.
What gas that human's manipulate is most responsible for global warming? Which is worse for global warming, coal or oil? Why do climate advocates want to use more ethanol in cars? How do tropical rain forests and polar ice caps influence global warming?
In "The Battle for American Science," what is "intelligent design?" What device/s are touted there as supposedly illustrating intelligent design?
According to the Pentagon's report on climate change, how imminent is warfare caused by global warming? By what mechanism/s might warfare result from global warming?
What methods are suggested by the Fortune magazine article for "how to kick the oil habit?"
President Bush is pushing hydrogen powered cars as a solution to the climate crisis, according to your reading, how feasible are hydrogen-powered cars in the immediate future? Why?
Who is Bill Frist and what does he have to do with the stem cell debate?
Can most Americans give a clear definition of stem cells?
Which science topics were frequently mentioned at the last Democratic national convention?
What is the relationship of state and local funding to support for stem cell research?
Is there good reason to worry about the safety of food products make from gene-altered animals? Explain.
According to "Opposition to Nanotechnology" how robust is the body of research findings on the safety of nanotechnology?
In the article about steel axes for stone age Australians, what problems resulted from the introduction of steel axes into the culture of the tribe described there? Which tribe IS described there? What are the broader implications of this article that the author's probably wish for you to take away from it?
According to the article about "GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT," in what areas has the current administration apparently distorted the findings of scientists? (if any?). How substantial is the reputation of the scientists involved in the claims put forward in this article?
Who wrote Our Posthuman Future? (Just as an aside, this person was one of the "neocons" who were primary architects of the ideology behind the current U. S. war in Iraq). What two or three main arguments are put forward in that book? Which of these arguments does the author of the article reviewing Our Posthuman Future agree with, and why?
In Europe, what aspects of euthanasia are the most controversial? How does this compare to the U. S.? Why does the debate in the U. S. seem to be different? How do most Europeans view the debate within the U. S.?
How does today's Catholic Church feel about the acceptability of euthanasia?