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October 2, 2019

Faith, Race, and Politics

Panelist Justin Giboney

In a polarized nation, faith, race, and politics can be divisive topics on their own. Bringing them together can be explosive. This Public Dialogue sought to explore the intersections of faith, race, and politics in the United States in ways that can inform and engage, rather than pull us apart.

This timely conversation included an African-American political leader trying to connect biblical values and U.S. politics; a white evangelical leader insisting that “Who is my neighbor?” is the central question of the 2020 presidential campaign; a Latino bishop serving a Catholic diocese along the U.S.-Mexico border; and a respected journalist who has spent years covering the ways faith and race intersect in American politics and culture.

This dialogue was a continuation of the Initiative’s series on Faith and the Faithful in U.S. Politics. This particular conversation asked:

  • What are the religious, social, and political contexts for how faith and race are playing out in our nation and in the 2020 campaign?
  • In what ways is faith being tested, used, or misused by believers and religious communities in addressing the challenges of racism, discrimination, and injustice?
  • How do race and ethnicity shape the public convictions, choices, and priorities of religious voters and communities?
  • How do these links challenge religious communities? The Democratic Party? The Republican Party?
  • How do these factors affect debates on immigration, abortion, criminal justice, poverty, and other global issues?
  • Will the interaction of faith, race, and politics continue to deepen divisions? Or can faith provide principles and approaches that build community across racial, ethnic, and political lines?

This Public Dialogue was co-sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, the Institute of Politics and Public Service, and the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.

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Adelle Banks is an editor and a national reporter for Religion News Service (RNS). Before joining RNS in 1995, she was a reporter in Florida, Rhode Island, and New York. She won the 2014 Wilbur Award for her coverage of the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington.

Bishop Daniel Flores has been a champion of human life and dignity as the bishop of the diocese of Brownsville, Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border for 10 years. He previously served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Justin Giboney is an attorney and political strategist in Atlanta. He is the co-founder and president of the AND Campaign, a coalition of urban Christians seeking to bring the compassion and convictions of the Gospel to U.S. politics.

Rev. Jim Wallis is the founder, president, and editor-in-chief of Sojourners, as well as the author of the recently published Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus (2019), America’s Original Sin (2016), and God’s Politics (2005). He is a research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and teaches in the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.