Religion department hosts ‘The People, Populism and the Church in the Era of Trump’ lecture

As part of the 2017 McGee Endowed Lecture Series, Dr. Luke Bretherton spoke on "People, Populism, and the Church in the Era of Trump" at Miller Chapel on Monday afternoon. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Monica Rodriguez | Reporter

On Monday, the Baylor Religion Department hosted its annual Daniel B. McGee Endowed Lecture. The McGee lecture is named in honor and memory of longtime Baylor Religion Ethics professor Daniel B. McGee and his various contributions.

The second lecture out of this three-part series was held at Miller Chapel and invited Baylor students, professors and faculty to come together with the Waco community to discuss the relationship between religion and politics. The presentation called “The People, Populism and the Church in the Era of Trump,” was hosted by Dr. Luke Bretherton.

Bretherton, originally from England, is now a professor of theological ethics and senior fellow of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina. Bretherton is an author, teacher and activist.

“Dr. Bretherton is an engaging teacher and supportive colleague,” said Associate Religion Professor, Natalie Carnes, who also spent time at Duke. “His recent book, Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship and the Politics of a Common Life, highlights his talents and influential role within the political spectrum.”

During the discussion, Dr. Bretherton discussed the origins of the meaning of “the people” while connecting it to what the term populism actually means. Dr. Bretherton also brought up key differences between the roles of church and state as well as addressing the situations of political turmoil happening across the country right now.

“The people are such a central part of politics today,” Bretherton said. “A new form of biblio-politics has begun to take shape all over the world and it goes hand in hand with the ideas of populism and what role the church plays in society.”

After the hour long lecture, there was a 15 minute question and answer segment. One of the questions asked was whether or not the violent events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia in mid-August of this year could have been prevented in any way.

“In [Charlottesville] was two groups of people with very different viewpoints who disliked each other,” Bretherton said. “We tend to look at democracy through a belief that all free speech is tolerable without any repercussions. We need to push for a system that serves the people and believes in the moral good instead of just pushing the agenda.”

At the end of the lecture, a free food truck dinner paid by the city of Waco was available to over 400 attendees. The food consisted of various items from The Mix Café, Pokey O’s, Kona Ice and Sergio’s Food Truck.

“The idea of providing this meal to the
community,” said Associate Religion Professor, Jonathan Tran. “Is to have
people come together to share this example of common life, which is an aspect
of life everyone should translate to politics.”