Panel Addresses Religion and Politics

Religious leaders and academics discussed the connection between religion and politics at last night's Institute of Politics panel held at the Kennedy School's ARCO forum.

The panel, titled "Religion and Politics," featured Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine; Jeff Taylor, director of governmental affairs for the Christian Coalition (CC); Jim Wallis, a fellow at the Center for Study of Values in Public Life and editor of Sojourner magazine; Rev. Dr. Albert Pennybacker of the National Coalition of Churches of Christ and Anna Greenberg, assistant professor of Public Policy at the Kennedy School.

Jeff Taylor began the discussion speaking on the specific issues of public policy that make up the goals of the CC. Taylor's introduction set the tone of the panel, with most panelists giving examples of issue-oriented churches as ways in which religion and politics are connected.

According to many of the panelists, faith influences public policy when churches address specific issues such as poverty, abortion and sex.


"The menu for the new millennium includes overcoming poverty, rebuilding the family and community, and biblically taking on racism," Wallis said.

To further demonstrate the influence of religion in politics, Greenberg said regular churchgoers are more likely to be involved in politics and to vote.

Several members of the audience asked the panel to address several issues in current event including abortion and morality in politics, specifically the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.

According to Lerner, citizens should not demand that leaders be on a higher moral level because leaders would need to lie to keep themselves on a higher moral plane.

Although many audience members complimented the depth of the forum, they said they were disappointed by the lack of diversity of religions at the forum.

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