Tips for Teaching

Getting Students Out of the Classroom and into the Pew


  • Melissa Deckman Washington College



churches as political institutions


For one assignment, students in my Religion and Politics course attend a religious service of their choosing and write about the experience, comparing their time in the church (or synagogue or mosque) with the scholarly literature on the impact of churches on politics and the presence of politics within houses of worship. This experience represents a wonderful learning opportunity, particularly for Millennials, many of whom are religiously unaffiliated. Their reflective essays also form the basis for a dynamic, rich class discussion.

Author Biography

Melissa Deckman, Washington College

Melissa Deckman is Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department and the Louis L. Goldstein Professor of Public Affairs


Bean, Lydia. 2014. The Politics of Evangelical Identity: Local Churches and Partisan Divides in the United States and Canada. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Putnam, Robert, and David Campbell. 2010. American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Wald, Kenneth, Dennis Owen, and Samuel Hill, 1988. “Churches as Political Communities,” American Political Science Review 82: 531–48.



How to Cite

Deckman, M. (2015). Tips for Teaching: Getting Students Out of the Classroom and into the Pew. Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 44(2), 26–28.



Teaching Tips