New Initiative on Religious Leadership, Civil Discourse and Democracy in the Public Square
Honored with a Ford Foundation Freedom of Expression grant, RCLA has launched the Religious Leadership, Civil Discourse and Democracy in the Public Square: Advancing the Positive Role of Faith Leaders in America project.
Led by RCLA Professor David Elcott, the project seeks to heighten the awareness that the language of a "wall" separating church and state does not reflect the historical ways Americans use their faith as citizens. Our hope is to provide framework for illuminating the roles religion and religious leaders play as primary civic actors - not simply as defenders of the faith, but as civic educators promoting civic engagement and involvement in American political life and policymaking.
A key element of this project includes convening thoughtful and influential religious leaders and thinkers from across the religious and political spectrum to serve in a critical advisory role. The project launched with a high-level gathering of religious leaders from across the nation from October 21-22, 2013. We look to this group to reflect on ways that, within in each faith tradition, pluralist democratic values and civic engagement could be taught.
This process, as well as literature research, surveys, focus groups and interviews, will lead to a resource toolkit and training programs that we hope will both "teach the trainer" and also model civics training programs in seminaries, youth clergy settings and even clergy conferences across the country.