Three-part lecture series set to discuss religion, politics

By Savannah Cooper | Staff Writer

Religion and politics can be very divisive topics. Baylor is providing an opportunity to host a fruitful discussion about the coexistence of those two things.

Starting Sunday at 6 p.m., the department of religion, Honors Residential College, Institute for Studies of Religion and Seventh and James Baptist Church, are coming together in partnership to host a three-part lecture series.

Luke Bretherton, professor of theological ethics and senior fellow of the Kenan Institute at Duke University will be the keynote speaker in the first two engagements: “Christianity and Democracy” on Sunday and “The people, populism and the church in the era of Trump” on Monday at 4 p.m. in Miller Chapel of the Tidwell Bible Building.

Event organizer and associate professor of religion Dr. Jonathan Tran said he is looking forward to bringing this timely topic to campus.

“We’re looking to host a three-part conversation about the relationship between Christianity and Democracy,” Tran said. “We think that this is always timely because it’s a pretty important question for American Christians. This is especially timely given the rather fraught context we’re living.”

San Antonio sophomore Lawson Sadler is a student volunteer through the honors program that’s excited about this unique opportunity.

“What’s really exciting about this is how this event is really bringing Baylor and the larger Waco community together to talk about Religion and Politics,” Sadler said. “They’re very few opportunities like this where Baylor students get to hear from and have discussions with these leaders in the Waco community.”

In addition to Bretherton’s lectures, there will be a four food trucks serving dinner on Monday to the first 300 people for free outside between Tidwell and Seventh and James.

Following the dinner, there will be a panel discussion titled “Democracy, religion and public life.”

The panelists leading the conversation will be First Presbyterian Church Pastor Leslie King, Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church Pastor Kerry Burkely, Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver and Publisher of Tiempo Newspaper Ernesto Fraga.

The lecture series is an event free to the public and Tran said he is looking forward to having a small moment of practicing democracy on campus.

“I hope during that time in a sense we can practice what we’re preaching, that is have a small moment of democratic life where people gather around good food and talk about issues,” Tran said.

With the current political climate America is in, Sadler said she thinks now is the best time for Christians to look within themselves and ask what their faith really means.

“We really want to bring to the forefront Baylor’s Christian ideals and ask how do we go forward as Christian individuals as a Christian school in this new political climate,” Sadler said. “I think there’s so much that has changed in the last year thanks to the Trump administration and I think this is a really great opportunity to ask ourselves those self reflective questions of what does it mean to be a Christian in the political environment that we are in now.”

Lawson said the final event breaks the “Baylor Bubble” and builds a bridge to the Waco community by bringing in people of the Waco community.

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