Can Faith and Politics be Separated?

THU, JAN 30, 2020 (1:20:23)

Communities across America are divided over politics, culture, identity, and the direction of the country. Are religious congregations any different? How do religious leaders today navigate deeply divisive issues — like the Middle East, gay marriage, abortion, the immigration crisis — in their own communities? We’ll look at the intersection of faith and politics and discuss religious leaders views on engaging in social activism. We’ll examine the role religious leaders play in such partisan times.

+ BIO: James Carroll

James Carroll is the author of 10 novels and 5 previous works of non-fiction, including the National Book Award winning An American Requiem, The New York Times bestselling Constantine’s Sword, now an acclaimed documentary, and House of War, which won the first PEN-Galbraith Award. Carroll has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other publications, and his column appears weekly in the Boston Globe. His writing, and his long work toward Jewish-Christian-Muslim reconciliation, make him a leading voice on the problem of religion and violence. James Carroll, Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at Suffolk University, received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from St. Paul’s College, the Paulist Fathers’ seminary in Washington, DC. After studying poetry at the University of Minnesota and working as a community organizer in Washington and New York, he was ordained into the priesthood. The Paulists and Cardinal Cushing assigned Carroll to Boston University, where he served as Catholic chaplain from 1969 to 1974. During those years he published numerous books on religious subjects and a weekly column in the National Catholic Reporter, which earned him awards from the Catholic Press Association and other organizations. Carroll remained active in the antiwar movement until the Vietnam War ended. He left the priesthood to become a writer and has since published nine novels, an award-winning memoir, and a weekly op-ed column for the Boston Globe. Carroll is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves on its Committee for International Security Studies. He is a member of the council of PEN/New England, and he served four years as its chair. He has been a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at the Harvard Divinity School. Carroll is also a trustee of the Boston Public Library and a member of the advisory board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University.

+ BIO: Khalil Abdur-Rashid

Khalil Abdur-Rashid is the first full-time University Muslim Chaplain at Harvard University and Instructor of Muslim Studies at Harvard Divinity School. He serves all Muslim students at Harvard, supervises staff of the Harvard University Office of the Chaplain and also serves on the Board of Religious, Spiritual and Ethical Life at Harvard.

+ BIO: Rhina Ramos

Rev. Rhina Ramos is the National Coordinator of Proyecto Encuentros de Gracia y Bienvenida. Funded by a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the project advances ONA ministries among UCC churches that are predominantly Latinx in membership or have Latinx outreach. The position is in Health and Wholeness Advocacy Ministries, part of Justice and Local Church Ministries.

Ramos hopes to build on the inclusion work she has been doing with LGBTQ people as pastor of Ministerio Latino UCC in Oakland, Calif. Growing up amidst El Salvador’s civil war is among several factors that have shaped her outlook.

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+ BIO: Rabbi Jonah Pesner

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner serves as the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Pesner also serves as Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism, a position to which he was appointed to in 2011. Named one of the most influential rabbis in America by Newsweek magazine, he is an inspirational leader and tireless advocate for social justice.

His work has focused on encouraging Jewish communities to reach across lines of race, class, and faith in campaigns for social justice. He’s trained and mentored students on all four campuses of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and gives speeches in interfaith and secular venues all over the world.

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