Discovering how faith and the world influence each other is the goal of the new Center for Faith and Public Life, which was recently launched by Claflin University’s Department of Philosophy and Religion.
“The Center emerged from conversations on how to build on our campus mantra, ‘The World Needs Visionaries,’” said Dr. Johnny B. Hill, associate professor of philosophy and religion and the Center’s director. “It will connect with the interests of the public so we can address the pressing issues of our time such as immigration and gun control.”
Hill said the Center’s mission is built upon four tenets: research, education, advocacy and development. The Center was publicly launched Feb. 5 as a part of the Religious Emphasis Week’s festivities.
“This Center will be one of the premier avenues for examining the intersection of faith and public life,” said the Rev. Dr. Ken J. Walden, university chaplain.
The Center will engage in research pertaining to religion’s impact and influence over current social, political and economic issues. Hill cited the current debate over immigration reform. He noted that throughout the Bible there are references to welcoming strangers. For example, the Center would use those Biblical references as a context for discussing and researching this controversial topic.
A series of workshops, seminars and trainings will be a focus of the Center. “Our intent is for corporations, businesses and civic organizations to view this as a place where they can become informed and enlightened or receive inclusive training,” said Walden.
The Center will also advocate its positions related to war, peace and poverty through public statements, events and appearances. Programs will also be established to assist churches, faith-based organizations and communities in identifying resources to advance their respective missions and goals, according to Hill.
Hill said the Center’s first forum will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26 at the Grace Thomas Kennedy Building Auditorium and the topic of discussion will be civil and human rights. The Center will also sponsor an annual symposium to train faith leaders.
Claflin’s President, Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, said the creation of the Center is in line with the university’s mission to be at the forefront of impactful issues.
“The Center for Faith and Public Life will expertly dissect the world’s most pressing problems and identify how religious faiths can be change agents in addressing them through a positive light,” said Tisdale. “As the world becomes more interconnected and continues to face ever increasing issues, the need for this Center is greater than ever before. We expect this Center to be a visionary forum where inquiry and religion meet to form a consensus for the greater good.”
For more information about the Center for Faith and Public Life and the inaugural forum, contact Dr. Hill at 803-535-5399 or firstname.lastname@example.org.