Bucknell Forum: Religion panelists agree to disagree
The four diverse panelists -- Obery Hendricks, professor of biblical interpretation at the New York Theological Seminary; Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life; and The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans for Separation of Church and State -- covered significant ground as they explored the role religion was playing in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.
At one point in the collegial discussion moderated by Julie Segal Walters, founder of Civic Action Strategies, two of the participants in one light-hearted exchange had the Trout Auditorium crowd chuckling.
"Phew, I'm surprised because I agreed with so much of what you said," Hendricks said to Land. "It's worrying."
"That's because the media makes us think we're more divided than what we actually are," Land said.
"I think we're pretty divided," said Hendricks. "We just haven't hit on the things we're divided about."
Moderator Walters asked each of the panelists if religious identity was having an impact on how voters were approaching the 2008 election.
Land said the impact on voters might be somewhat exaggerated. "I would like to point out that four of the last five times that Southern Baptists have had the opportunity to do so the majority of them have voted against a Southern Baptist and for someone of a different faith tradition in presidential races in the
He underscored the point by noting that in Super Tuesday's voting that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, failed to get a majority of evangelical votes in any primary. "He hasn't gotten 50 percent yet. That's because evangelicals are not one-dimensional," said Land. (Audio clip)
Lugo offered that religion was increasingly forming both private and public persona, not just in the
Hendricks said voters identify with candidates who they think endorse their interests. But, he said, candidates "try to couch their rhetoric in terms that at least suggest they endorse the interests of those that they want to attract," he said. "What we're not seeing is the values of Jesus Christ being lifted up in this election at all." (Audio clip)
Citing the U.S. Constitution,
Land: "As long as there is a bright-line distinction between the two parties when it comes to the issue of when an unborn citizen's life can be ended and under what circumstances it can be ended, there is not going to be a lot of shifting in the so-called values voters."
Hendricks: "When you have people in office who don't fully value the humanity of others, then you are going to have problems. Those are questions we owe it to
The Bucknell Forum
"The Bucknell Forum: The Citizen & Politics in America" is a national speakers series exploring major issues in the 2008 presidential election, notably those at the forefront of the national discourse. The series features nationally renowned leaders, scholars, and commentators exploring these issues from multi-disciplinary perspectives and offers opportunities for campus and community conversations.
On March 17, best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich will speak on "Class, Citizenship, and the Presidency." Pulitzer-prize winning syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts will speak on March 24.
NBC newsman Tim Russert was The Bucknell Forum's inaugural speaker in September, followed in October by a panel of national political correspondents from among the country's most influential print, broadcast, and online news sources discussed the role that media play in shaping the presidential election and the issues affecting the race. In November, the renowned political theorist Benjamin Barber spoke about the challenges facing democracy in
In January, CNBC-TV "Mad Money" host, best-selling author, and Wall Street investor Jim Cramer gave the talk "The Capitalist Citizen and Democracy."
Contact: Office of Communications
Posted Feb. 7, 2008
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