‘On Topic’ to feature religious freedom discussion

By Reubin Turner

City Editor

President and Chancellor Ken Starr will sit down this week with former U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf to discuss religious freedom issues nationally and abroad.

Wolf will be featured as part of Starr’s “On Topic with President Ken Starr,” a series that features in-depth conversations with national leaders.

The event will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Baylor Club, located in McLane Stadium.

Wolf, who represented the 10th district of Virginia for 17 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, was recently named the Jerry and Susie Wilson Chair in Religious Freedom at Baylor.

Baylor announced Wolf would be the first recipient of the award after Wolf said he would retire from Congress and pursue humanitarian work.

According to a Baylor press release, Wolf was known as the conscious of Congress, and helped to address issues on Capitol Hill that aligned with the university’s mission.

“Congressman Frank Wolf has been widely recognized as the ‘conscience’ of the Congress and a champion of religious freedom in both U.S. domestic and foreign policy,” Starr said in the press release.

In addition to authoring the International Religious Freedom Act, an act that created the International Religious Freedom Office at the State Department, Wolf is also a founder and co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. The purpose of this commission is to promote and defend internationally recognized human rights both within and outside the walls of Congress, according to their website.

“Sometimes, I feel that the activities at Baylor cross the line and infringe upon the religious freedoms of the students,” said Fort Worth junior Jonathon Cappo. “Granted, it is a private Baptist university, but not all students come here for Chapel or Scriptures.”

Cappo, a political science major, said this, adding that it is important to educate the student body on what religious freedom means.

“This country was founded upon ideals that promote a strict separation of church and state, and finding ways to protect religious freedom are extremely important,” he said.

Dr. Byron Johnson, distinguished professor of social sciences, also said in the press release it is an honor to have Wolf apart of the Baylor community.

“Congressman Wolf has spent more than three decades of his life fighting for religious freedom. It is an honor to have a statesman like Frank Wolf join our faculty,” said Johnson, who also serves as co-director of Baylor’s Institute for the Studies of Religion.

In addition to the being a special guest for “On Topic with President Ken Starr,” Wolf will also be a special guest in chapel Wednesday, as well as a panelist for the Global Religious Freedom Summit on Thursday.

Tickets to the dialogue between Starr and Wolf are free and open to the public, and will be distributed at the Bill Daniel Student Center Ticket Office. They will be distributed at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Baylor Club, as space permits.