This online course will explore the intersections of public policy, political engagement and religious faith. Several key issues–i.e., poverty, immigration and foreign policy– will be explored through the lens of faith-based groups and leaders that have been at the forefront of advocacy and political engagement work. Resources on activating churches and other faith traditions for political engagement will be offered.
Instructor: Eli Valentin
Format: This virtual workshop will take place over four 90-minute Thursday evening sessions.
-Thursday, April 8 at 7:00 – 8:30 pm
-Thursday, April 15 at 7:00 – 8:30 pm
-Thursday, April 22 at 7:00 – 8:30 pm
-Thursday, April 29 at 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Session 1: Introductory Session
Description: This session will introduce students to the role religion plays in public life, and more specifically, how faith-based groups have navigated the public policy and political engagement worlds. Examples from some faith-based groups engaged in policy work will be explored.
Session 2: Economics, Poverty and Labor
Description: There is no dearth in faith-based engagement on poverty issues in the U.S. And more recently, there has been a push to build coalitions between religious and labor groups on matters relating to fair wages and proper work conditions. This session will explore advocacy work and strategies utilized by groups, clergy leaders, and theologians on poverty and labor issues in the US.
Session 3: Immigration
Description: The immigration crisis ravaging many Brown families is not a new one. It has only been exacerbated by the inhumane policies enacted by former president Donald Trump. This session will take a look at how faith leaders and groups have organized for immigration justice, taking a special look at the work of Father Arturo Banuelas at the El Paso border.
Session 4: Faith-based organizations and PACs in Electoral Politics
Description: This session will examine the role religious organizations have played in the electoral process and in presidential elections. Some specific groups (i.e., Faith and Freedom Coalition, Faith 2020) will be selected as case studies for examining the role religious groups have played, and continue to play, in presidential elections.
Resources on activating churches and other faith traditions for political engagement will be offered.
About Eli Valentin
Eli Valentin is a public theologian working at the intersection of faith and politics. He has served as a political advisor to numerous elected officials and labor organizations across the country and is the editor of Sermons from the Latino/a Pulpit. Eli is also the author of the forthcoming book, Reinhold Niebuhr and Politics. In addition to 16 years as a senior pastor, he has been a lecturer at Union Theological Seminary, New York Theological Seminary and Hunter College (CUNY).