Baylor University Hosts Conversation on Faith and Politics

Baylor University hosted a panel discussion on faith and politics on Monday, January 22. 

The conversation was moderated by university president Linda Livingstone and featured thought leaders working to increase civil discourse around the country. Panelists included Curtis Chang, Executive Director of Redeeming Babel and a consulting professor at Duke Divinity School, Justin Giboney, president of the AND Campaign and Kaitlyn Schiess, co-host of the Holy Post podcast. 

Panelists discussed how people of faith should approach conversations around the often heated topic of politics and reflected on civility and its place within our political discourse. 

Livingstone noted that, as an institution of higher learning, Baylor focuses on educating its students and helping them “be able to have healthy, deliberate, difficult conversations around important and controversial issues in a way that is respectful of others.” She added that this must be done in a way that is respectful of others and “advances the conversation and doesn’t cause people to move further into their corners on these issues.” 

Giboney defined civility as a “public grace” toward others that doesn’t necessarily include agreement or affirmation of their ideas but respects their human dignity and agency. He also urged the audience to recognize that civility has sometimes been weaponized and used to silence people. 

Schiess added that the Christian faith provides distinct gifts to our public life. One of these gifts is understanding that “we are not going to see everything at once as individuals” because of our human limitations and that “all of our political life is contingent.” She also said that Christians understand our best guesses on what is politically correct isn’t the final word and this allows believers to recognize, with humility, that there are things they don’t know. 

On the 2024 elections, Chang shared that he believes this year will bring heightened anxiety among the public. He stated a belief that Christians have something distinct to offer during anxious times, which isn’t to dismiss the anxiety or try to make it go away. 

According to Chang, this is the way of the world that refuses to tolerate the possibility of loss. Instead, Christians “bring the ability to hold loss. That’s essential to our faith. ‘You have to lose your life to save it’ is fundamental to Jesus.” 

Chang added, “The Christian vision is that we can go through loss because, in the end, all our losses are restored to us.” This allows us to be a “non-anxious presence” because Jesus has promised to restore all things in the end. 

The event was a part of the annual “Baylor Conversation Series.” A video of the conversation, including a question-and-answer segment, can be found here.

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