Introduction to Faith, Social Justice, and Public Life with Jim Wallis

Instructor: Jim Wallis

In an increasingly pluralistic and interfaith society, is it a good idea to bring faith into public life? Which values and whose faith should be applied to politics? A debate over the role of religion is good and healthy, as is discussing the relationship between personal and social responsibility. People of faith who believe in social justice can be found in public life across the political spectrum. They apply their faith in different ways; vote Republican, Democrat, or Independent; and have varying views of government. How do we apply core moral values to politics, go deeper than merely Left and Right, and pursue public policies that put the common good at the heart of the discussion?

The coverage of religion in the media has become an issue all by itself. Media caricatures of what it means to be “evangelical” or “Catholic” or even “religious” still abound and confuse public discourse. The media also loves conflict, more than cooperation, and especially loves religious conflict. Is media coverage of religion getting better or worse? How is it changing? What might be “the religious issues” in the next election year, and what ought they to be? And how does the media coverage of religion and various faith communities impact politics? How is religion being politicized on the one hand, and how should it impact politics on the other? What are the problems that both the Right and the Left have with religion and religion in politics?

Readings:

Dionne, E.J. "Religion Challenges Left and Right."Editorial. WashingtonPost.com. The Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2013. Web. 

Hoover, Stewart M. Media & Religion.White Paper. The Center for Media, Religion, and Culture University of Colorado at Boulder, 2008. Web.  

Keller, Bill. "Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith."The New York Times Sunday Magazine 28 Aug. 2011: MM11. Sunday Magazine. The New York Times, 25 Aug. 2011. Web.  

Kennedy, John F. "Address of Senator John F. Kennedy to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association."Speech. Greater Houston Ministerial Association. Rice Hotel, Houston. 12 Sept. 1960. Jfklibrary.org. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Web. 

Obama, Barack. "Senator Barack Obama's 2006 Sojourners/Call to Renewal Address on Faith and Politics."Speech. Sojourners/Call to Renewal "Building a Covenant for a New America" Conference. National City Christian Church, Washington, D.C. 26 June 2006. Sojo.net. Sojourners, 21 Feb. 2012. Web.

Sullivan, Amy. "Articles of Faith: What Journalists Should Be Asking Politicians About Religion.”Editorial. TIME.com. TIME, 2 Sept. 2011. Web.

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