Panel to examine Russian religion, politics

By Rachel Leland
Staff Writer

The Keston Center for Religion, Politics, and Society will host a lecture about religious and political issues in Russia Thursday at the Michael Bordeaux Research Center as part of the biannual Keston Institute board meeting.

The Keston Institute aims to understand the persecution of Christians in the former USSR. It was founded in 1969 and moved its archive and library to Baylor in 2007 according to the institute’s website.

Xenia Dennen, chairman of the institute since 2002, will give a lecture titled “Defenders of the Faith: Then and Now.”

Dr. James Warhola, who is on the Keston advisory board, spoke about U.S.-Russia relations at the Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in March 2014.

“The general religious conditions of any given country is sort of a barometer of the political conditions,” Warhola said.

Three panelists – Dr. Wallace Daniel, a former professor in the department of history; Dr. Stephen Gardner, chairman of the department of economics; and Warhola, chairman of the department of political science at the University of Maine – will speak and field questions.

“For a lot of people at Baylor, this draws attention to the fact that we have an incredible archive of materials at Baylor,” Gardner said. “We probably have the best collection of those materials of anywhere in the world. A lot of people still aren’t aware that we have this archive, but a lot of scholars come from around the world to research here.”

Dr. Kathy Hillman, director of Central Libraries Special Collections, approached the three panelists to speak at the event.

“I think it will be a report on recent developments trends that are taking place on what the future may hold, on how the Keston archives can help researchers write a well-developed story about the present-day Russia,” said Daniel.  “Russia’s very crucial to the foreign policy of the United States.”

Daniel will speak about church and state and the religious development of Russia, especially about threats to religious liberty.

“Russia is extremely important to the United States and the stability of Europe. It’s of vital importance for economic stability, political stability and international order, all of which deeply affect students,” Daniel said.