Religion and Conflict: Alternative Visions
A joint event of the ASU Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and The George Washington University Project on Ethics in Political Communication
Can the Soul of the Nation Be Saved?
President Biden campaigned on the theme of restoring the soul of America—an idea he repeated during his inaugural address. But what exactly does this mean? In many ways, Biden was evoking American “civil religion” —an idea that has received renewed attention and criticism. For some Americans, civil religion offers a means for achieving national unity and a shared sense of moral purpose. For others, civil religion raises questions about religious and political freedom, concerns about “Christian nationalism,” and fears about American exceptionalism and national hubris. With legitimate criticisms and competing visions of America playing out in academia, media, government, and in our streets and public squares, the nation is grappling with a central question of our day: Do Americans still have faith in democracy?
Join us for this moderated discussion among scholars, practitioners, and journalists. Together, we will explore principles, practices, and critiques associated with American civil religion, including prospects for its future in U.S. politics and government. At a time when democracy is under duress in the United States and around the world, sustaining citizens’ faith in democracy remains a vital challenge. Key questions include:
- What is American civil religion? What sources does it draw from? And why should citizens care?
- What role does civil religion play in the president’s call to restore the nation’s soul and heal its divisions?
- In practical and strategic terms, how does civil religion figure into our political life, from campaigns and elections to governing and legislating?
- How can we promote civil religion when loyalty to the U.S. has, in the past, been used to target certain minority communities?
- Can we imagine a civil religion that encompasses different faiths, traditions, histories, and visions for America?
About the speakers:
- John Carlson is interim director of the Center for the Study of Religion & Conflict and associate professor of religious studies at Arizona State University where he also co-directs the Recovering Truth project. He is co-editor of From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America and is currently working on two book projects: a monograph on justice and a collection on religion and global citizenship. He has written extensively on civil religion, particularly as expressed through presidential speeches.
- André Gonzales is a staff assistant in the United States Senate, a 2019 Truman Scholar and a current Truman-Albright Fellow with the Harry S. Truman Foundation. In 2016, Gonzales was elected as one of the youngest delegates to attend the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and since then, has regularly found himself at the intersection of politics, policy, advocacy, and media both in New Mexico and in the nation's capital. As a recent graduate of The George Washington University and recipient of the Manatt-Trachtenberg Prize for Social and Intellectual Conscience, André is focused on addressing educational equity throughout New Mexico by creating longstanding partnerships between local, state, federal, tribal, nonprofit, and private stakeholders.
- Peter Loge is associate professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University, where he leads the Project on Ethics in Political Communication. Before joining GW, Loge worked for over 25 years in communications and political strategy, including a presidential appointment at the Food and Drug Administration and senior positions with members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He was vice president at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) from 2013-2015, where his portfolio included congressional relations, intergovernmental affairs, and the Global Peacebuilding Center. He regularly lectures on politics and lobbying and provides analysis and commentary for a variety of national media outlets.
- Nichole R. Phillips (Ph.D., Vanderbilt University) is director of the Black Church Studies Program and associate professor in the practice of sociology of religion and culture at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and a senior faculty fellow at the Emory Center for Ethics. Her research interests lie at the intersection of religion and American public life. With an emphasis on the moral commitments and vision of community and congregational members, her scholarship engages religion, critical race, gender, and cultural memory studies. Her most recent book is Patriotism Black and White: The Color of American Exceptionalism (2018), and she is currently developing a new research project on the sociology of science and religion funded by Templeton Religion Trust.
- Rozina Ali is a fellow at Type Media Center. Her reporting and essays on the Middle East, the war on terror, and Islamophobia in the United States have appeared in The New Yorker, Foreign Affairs, The Nation, the Guardian, New York Times, Al Jazeera America, Foreign Policy, and others. She was on the editorial staff of The New Yorker from 2015 to 2019, and was previously a senior editor at the Cairo Review of Global Affairs based in Cairo, Egypt.
Who Killed Truth?
A conversation with Jill Lepore
Today, we witness a striking indifference to and obfuscation of truth. In parts of government, the media, and other key sectors of culture, the imperative to seek and tell truth is often ignored, even viewed with contempt.
But was this always the case? How did we come to find ourselves in this "post-truth" moment?
Watch this conversation with Jill Lepore as she delineates key moments in American history that shape our understandings of truth today.
About the speaker:
• Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker, and the host of the podcast, The Last Archive. A prize-winning professor, she teaches classes in evidence, historical methods, humanistic inquiry, and American history. Much of her scholarship explores absences and asymmetries in the historical record, with a particular emphasis on the history and technology of evidence. As a wide-ranging and prolific essayist, Lepore writes about American history, law, literature, and politics. She is the author of many award-winning books, including the international bestseller, These Truths: A History of the United States (2018). Her latest book, IF THEN: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future, will be published in September 2020.
Telling the Truth in Black and White: Religion and Racial Injustice in the United States
A conversation with Robert P. Jones & Angela Sims
The United States is reckoning with its racist past and present. Police violence against Black Americans has generated massive protests to end racial injustice and systematic inequality. The recent removal of Confederate statues and symbols, including in Arizona, reminds us of the nation’s longtime devotion to a cause rooted in white supremacy and enforced through slavery, segregation, lynching, and other violence. To this day, Black Americans continue to experience ongoing injustices of redlining, housing discrimination, racial profiling, and unequal access to employment, education, and health care.
In this moment of national introspection, we ask: What roles has religion played in America’s history of white domination and the struggle for racial justice? How has Christianity in particular provided theological foundations for white supremacy and anti-Black violence? How has it inspired efforts to combat racism and promote human equality? How do we reckon with religion’s racist sins while preserving its capacity to inspire hope, resist injustice, and foster renewal?
Watch the panel discussion of these and other questions with Robert P. Jones and Angela Sims, moderated by John Carlson.
About the panelists:
• Robert P. Jones is CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). He is a leading scholar and commentator on religion, culture, and politics and writes regularly for The Atlantic, NBC, and other outlets. He is frequently featured in national media, such as CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
He is the author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity and The End of White Christian America. He also serves on the program committee of the American Academy of Religion.
• Angela Sims is the first female president of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. A renowned womanist scholar and a member of the National Baptist denomination, her research and writing examines connections between faith, race, and violence, with specific attention to historical and contemporary implications of lynching and a culture of lynching in the United States.
Sims is the author of Lynched: The Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror, and co-author of several books, including Religion-Political Narratives in the United States: From Martin Luther King, Jr. to Jeremiah Wright.
• John Carlson (Ph.D. University of Chicago) will serve as moderator for the event. Carlson is interim director of the ASU Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and an associate professor of religious studies. A scholar of religious ethics, his research explores how religious and moral inquiry informs and invigorates our understanding of political life. He has written on issues of war and peace, religion and violence, justice and human rights, democracy and civic life, and a variety of social and political issues, both domestic and international. Carlson is coeditor of, and contributor to, three books--From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America; Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning; The Sacred and the Sovereign: Religion and International Politics—and is the author of over twenty-five book chapters and articles. He is principal investigator (with Tracy Fessenden) for a project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation on “Recovering Truth: Religion, Journalism and Democracy in a Post-Truth Era,” which will be launching in Spring 2020, and is also co-directing a project on “Religion and Global Citizenship” with Linell Cady.
Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times
A conversation with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, an international religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author and respected moral voice is joined by directors of four academic centers at Arizona State University for a dynamic livestream conversation centered around the release of his latest book "Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times". While lamenting the cultural and political forces that have divided Britain, America and the wider world, Rabbi Sacks presents a remarkable vision of hope for the future. Watch as top scholars at ASU engage in meaningful discussion with one of the world’s leading public intellectuals to discuss topics around morality, religion and politics, featuring John Carlson (Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict), Paul Carrese (School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership), Paul Davies (Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science), Hava Tirosh-Samuelson (Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism and director of Jewish Studies), and moderated by Pauline Davies (Hugh Downs School of Human Communication).
This event is sponsored by:
- Beyond: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science
- Center for Jewish Studies
- Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict
- School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership
- This will be the inaugural event of “Conversations on Religion, Ethics and Science” or “CORES,” led by ASU Professor Barry Ritchie. CORES is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation
Targeting the Sacred: When Houses of Worship Come Under Attack
In the last year alone, numerous highprofile attacks against houses of worship have grabbed the world’s attention. Why are churches, mosques, temples, and other places of worship so often singled out for attack? Who carries out this violence, and what are their goals and motives? How do terms like “terrorism” or “religious conflict” clarify or impede our understanding of these attacks? Are there positive stories or signs of hope that come out of these events?
A panel of diverse panel of experts explored these and other questions, featuring Anand Gopal (journalist), Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce (Howard University School of Divinity), Brette Steele (McCain Institute), Mark Woodward (ASU), and John Carlson (moderator).
About the panelists:
Anand Gopal (Ph.D., Columbia University) is an award-winning journalist and assistant research professor with ASU’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and Center on the Future of War. Gopal’s reporting on Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq has earned him the highest accolades in journalism, including the National Magazine Award, the George Polk Award, the Hillman Prize, and three-time winner of the Overseas Press Club Award. He is the author of No Good Men Among the Living, which won the Ridenhour Book Prize, and his most recent piece, “Syria’s Last Bastion of Freedom,” appeared in The New Yorker in December 2018. Gopal co-directed, with John Carlson and Kristin Gilger, “Religion, Journalism and Democracy: Strengthening Vital Institutions of Civil Society,” a project that helped train journalists and scholars in more nuanced approaches to public engagement around issues of religion, politics and war. Reflecting his expertise in complex network analysis, ethnographically-based data journalism, and issues of objectivity in journalism, Gopal is currently co-principal investigator for two quite different projects, one on proxy warfare and the other on “Recovering Truth: Religion, Journalism and Democracy in a Post-Truth Era.”
Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce (Ph.D., Cornell University) is professor and dean of the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, DC. She is the first woman to hold this position in the school’s 150-year history. Prior to joining Howard, Pierce served as the Founding Director of the Center for African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. She also served as the director of the Center for Black Church Studies and associate professor of religion and literature at Princeton Theological Seminary. Pierce’s research specialties include African American religious history; womanist theology; African American Literature; and race and religion. She is the author of Hell Without Fires: Slavery, Christianity and the African American Spiritual Narrative and the forthcoming Religious Ecstasy and African American Cultural Expression, as well as numerous scholarly articles and essays. She has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Pew Foundation, and her commentary appears in a wide variety of publications, including: Time Magazine; Christian Century; Sojourners; Theology Today; and Christianity & Literature.
Brette Steele (J.D., UCLA School of Law) serves as the Director of Prevention and National Security at the McCain Institute for International Leadership. Prior to joining the McCain Institute, Steele served as the Regional Director of Strategic Engagement for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships. In that role she advised the State of California in the development of a statewide Preventing Violent Extremism Strategy and partnered with counties, cities, and nonprofit organizations to develop and implement Preventing Violent Extremism programs. Steele established and served as Deputy Director of the U.S. Countering Violent Extremism Task Force, which coordinated all federal efforts to prevent violent extremism in the United States. Prior to establishing the Countering Violent Extremist Task Force, she served as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General and coordinated the U.S. Department of Justice’s terrorism prevention and forensic science reform initiatives. Steele also chaired the U.S. Department of Justice Arab- and Muslim-American Engagement Advisory Committee and vice chaired the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities.
John Carlson (Ph.D. University of Chicago) will serve as moderator for the event. Carlson is interim director of the ASU Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and an associate professor of religious studies. A scholar of religious ethics, his research explores how religious and moral inquiry informs and invigorates our understanding of political life. He has written on issues of war and peace, religion and violence, justice and human rights, democracy and civic life, and a variety of social and political issues, both domestic and international. Carlson is coeditor of, and contributor to, three books--From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America; Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning; The Sacred and the Sovereign: Religion and International Politics—and is the author of over twenty-five book chapters and articles. He is principal investigator (with Tracy Fessenden) for a project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation on “Recovering Truth: Religion, Journalism and Democracy in a Post-Truth Era,” which will be launching in Spring 2020, and is also co-directing a project on “Religion and Global Citizenship” with Linell Cady.
Religion, Nationalism, and the Future of Democracy
Religious and ethnic nationalisms are resurgent in democracies around the world. How does the media cover these movements? Does its focus on conflict and violence further fuel and intensify civic strife? Are there other stories about religion and democratic culture that should be told?
Peter Beinart, contributing editor at The Atlantic and professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York, will join moderators John Carlson (Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict) and Kristin Gilger (Cronkite School) for a discussion of these issues, speaking to how he addresses them through a comparative approach.
Peter Beinart is professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York and contributing editor to The Atlantic. He is also a senior columnist at The Forward, political commentator at CNN, and a non-resident fellow at The Foundation for Middle East Peace.
Beinart is the author of two books on the history of American foreign policy, The Good Fight (2006) and The Icarus Syndrome (2010) that have been lauded by critics and foreign policy experts including Fareed Zakaria, Jon Meacham, and Steven Coll. His third book, The Crisis of Zionism (2012), was called “brave and important” by Anne Marie Slaughter, president of the New America Foundation.
In addition to The Atlantic, Beinart has also written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, Newsweek, Slate, Reader’s Digest, Die Zeit, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He lectures frequently around the country and has appeared on a variety of news and commentary shows, including “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” and “Meet the Press.”
Co-sponsored by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
This event is supported in part by a grant from the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism, and International Affairs for a project "Religion, Journalism, and Democracy: Strengthening Vital Institutions of Civil Society"
Religion and Politics in the Era of Trump: Two Views from the White House
On the first anniversary of Trump’s presidency, join us as Peter Wehner & Melissa Rogers, two former White House officials, reflect on the changing patterns of religious influence on U.S. culture & politics.
The presidency of Donald Trump has altered the American political landscape and the religious contours that shape it. While the nation’s “culture wars” have long divided Americans over abortion, gay marriage, and other hot button issues, the country now faces even deeper divides that are fracturing a cultural consensus once taken for granted. Some religious minorities have become targets of recent attack, while other religious groups have used their majority status to reinforce tribalism, nativism, and “identitarian” politics. Such trends challenge other roles that religious actors and ideas have played holding the nation and its leaders accountable, including a long history of civic engagement by many religious groups who have contributed vitally to the pursuit of freedom, justice, and democracy.
Reflecting on the first year of the Trump presidency, this event will feature Peter Wehner and Melissa Rogers, two former White House officials, who will explore how past administrations have understood the role religion plays in American society and how government officials have interpreted and facilitated that role in the executive branch. On the first anniversary of the Trump presidency, they will also discuss recent religious dynamics in the nation’s political life and consider what constructive role religion might yet play to bridge the deep divisions within the country.
Peter Wehner is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the director of EPPC’s Faith Angle Forum. He writes widely on political, cultural, religious, and national-security issues. In 2015 he was named a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Christianity Today, Time magazine as well as appearing on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. Mr. Wehner served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations prior to becoming deputy director of speechwriting for President George W. Bush. He was also a senior adviser to the Romney-Ryan 2012 presidential campaign. Mr. Wehner is author of City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era (co-authored with Michael J. Gerson) and Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism (co-authored with Arthur C. Brooks).
Melissa Rogers is a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution. During the Obama administration, Rogers served as special assistant to the president and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She previously served as chair of the inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Prior to that she was director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University Divinity School. Rogers has also served as executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Her area of expertise includes the First Amendment's religion clauses, religion in American public life, and the interplay of religion, policy, and politics. She has co-authored a case book on religion and law entitled Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court (Baylor University Press, 2008). She holds a J.D. from University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from Baylor University.
|FEB 2021||Are We One Country or Two? A Conversation about Reconciliation with David Blight||David W. Blight||Video|
|NOV 2020||Righteous Reckoning: Religion and the 2020 Election||Anthea Butler, Sarah Posner||Video|
|OCT 2020||Who Killed Truth?||Jill Lepore||Video|
|SEP 2020||Telling the Truth in Black and White: Religion and Racial Injustice in the U.S.||Robert P. Jones, Angela Sims||Video|
|SEP 2020||Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times||Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks||Video|
|OCT 2019||Targeting the Sacred: When Houses of Worship Come Under Attack||Anand Gopal, Yolanda Pierce, Brette Steele|
|MAR 2019||Religion, Nationalism, and the Future of Democracy||Peter Beinart||Video|
|SEP 2018||Religion, Journalism, and Democracy||Daniel Burke||Video|
|MAR 2018||Sex and American Christianity: The Religious Divides that Fractured a Nation||Marie Griffith||Video|
|JAN 2018||Religion and Politics in the Era of Trump: Two Views from the White House||Melissa Rogers, Peter Wehner||Video|
|OCT 2017||500: The Protestant Reformation and the Modern World||Susan Schreiner, Daniel Philpott, Tracy Fessenden||Video|
|FEB 2017||Religion and Democracy in a New Global Era||Shadi Hamid||Video|
|OCT 2016||Presidential Politics and the Making of American Identity||Laura Olson, Edward Curtis, Robert P. Jones,||Podcast|
|FEB 2016||What Citizens Owe Strangers: Human Rights, Migrants and Refugees||Michael Ignatieff||Podcast|
|JAN 2016||The Future of Faith||Harvey Cox||Podcast|
|OCT 2015||Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence||Karen Armstrong|
|FEB 2015||Neuroscience and the Religious Imagination||David Eagleman|
|OCT 2014||The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism||Andrew J. Bacevich|
|FEB 2014||Sectarianism, Secularism and Statehood: Challenges and Change that Shape the Middle East||Rami Khouri||Podcast|
|OCT 2013||God is Not One: Religious Tolerance in an Age of Extremism||Stephen Prothero|
|JAN 2013||The Longest War: America, Al Qaeda, and the Middle East||Peter Bergen||Podcast|
|OCT 2012||Saints, Sinners and Power: The Role of Religion in a Secular Government||James Morone||Podcast|
|FEB 2012||Beyond Belief||Elaine Pagels||Podcast|
|OCT 2011||Beyond Fundamentalism||Reza Aslan|
|MAR 2011||Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East||Isobel Coleman||Podcast|
|OCT 2010||From Tea Parties to Textbooks: Religion, Politics, and the Struggle for American Identity||James Davison Hunter, Alan Wolfe||Podcast|
|APR 2010||India After Gandhi: Nonviolence and Violence in the World's Largest Democracy||Ramachandra Guha||Podcast|
|MAR 2010||The Evolution of God||Robert Wright||Podcast|
|OCT 2009||Real Conflicts and Imagined Threats: Religion, Politics, and the Future of the Middle East||Rami Khouri||Podcast|
|MAR 2009||The Clash Within: Religion, Pluralism, and the Future of Democracy||Martha Nussbaum||Podcast|
|OCT 2008||Run for the White House: Religion, Race, Gender, and the Media||Diane Winston, Eddie Glaude||Podcast|
|MAR 2008||The Battle for Baghdad: What the Outcome will mean for America, Iraq, and the World||John F. Burns|
|OCT 2007||Two Steps Toward Hell: The Scare-Mongers, the Caliphate, and Islamofascism||Michael F. Scheuer||Podcast|
|MAR 2007||Islamic Ethics and Gender: Towards an Ethics of Compassion||Amina Wadud||Podcast|
|OCT 2006||Religion and American Foreign Policy||Jack Miles||Podcast|
|SEP 2006||American Gospel||Jon Meacham||Podcast|
|APR 2006||Are We Losing Our Humanity?: C.S. Lewis on Moral Conflict||Jean Bethke Elshtain|
|MAR 2006||Interpreting Islam: Politics, the Media and the Academy||Carl Ernst||Podcast|
|OCT 2005||Terrorism and the Future of Peacemaking||Marc Gopin|
|MAR 2005||Religion, Terrorism & Human Rights||Sidney Jones|
|FEB 2005||Arab-Israeli Peace: Is it Possible? How Do We Get There?||Aaron David Miller|
|OCT 2004||Islamic Democracy and the Future of Iraq||Noah Feldman|
|OCT 2004||The Global Rise of Religious Violence: The Case of South and Southeast Asia||Mark Juergensmeyer|
|OCT 2004||The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace||Dennis Ross|
|SEP 2004||Religion and the 2004 Presidential Election||E.J. Dionne|
|MAR 2004||When Religion Becomes Evil||Charles Kimball|
|FEB 2004||Reading Lolita in Tehran: Women, Religion and Global Politics||Azar Nafisi|
|OCT 2003||Abraham: A Journey to the Hearts of Three Faiths||Bruce Feiler|
|MAR 2003||The Rise of Religious Terrorism||Peter Bergen||Podcast|