Union Creates Center for Politics and Religion
Oct 11, 2007
Union University is proud to announce the creation of a new Center for Politics and Religion which is to be led by Dr. Micah Watson, Assistant Professor of Political Science. The Center’s mission is to “provide a conceptual place on campus for us to discuss these two topics: politics and religion,” according to Watson.
Due to the interest among evangelicals and others in the relationship between politics and religion, Dr. David Dockery, President of Union University, wanted to create a resource center to help students, the evangelical community, and the American public think through these ideas. Most previous attempts to create similar centers tended to focus on church-state issues which led to a focus on philosophical and legal issues. However, with the suggestion of Union’s two political science professor, Drs. Sean Evans and Kevin Cooney, Union decided to broaden the concept beyond legal issues to explain how ethics affects public policy, how political attitudes of people of faith differ and how their attitudes affect their behaviors, how religion overtly and covertly influences politics, etc. Moreover, the Center will examine how this is done not just in the US but around the world.
“This [new center] will give a unique opportunity here that you won’t get at other like-minded schools of faith,” said Watson, and “you really won’t find something like this at a state school.” Hopefully, the Center for Politics and Religion will challenge students to not compartmentalize their faith. It will also give students the opportunity to meet and interact with scholars from all over the country. The Center is not intended just for political science students, however, but for all students at Union, to “give an intentional area for these conversations about politics and religion to take place,” says Watson. Overall, the Center will also “help us better prepare Christians to effectively advocate their views to those who believe differently,” remarks Dr. Evans.
The Center’s upcoming agenda includes hosting speakers Jeffery Morrison and Lucas Morel on February 18th, President’s Day, to explore how presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington approached the presidency in light of their faith. Morrison has recently published a book on Washington, while Morel has recently published a book on Lincoln.
The Center’s proposed agenda for the future includes hosting a conference, allowing scholars to present papers and current research, which could hopefully become a bi-yearly way to sponsor research in the area of politics and religion. Watson’s vision includes hosting small, medium, and large sized events through the Center. Watson states, “I want it to be a regular fixture on campus”.