October 12, 2012 - Religion has been a cornerstone of American politics through history, Christian ethicist Mark Douglas said during a program on "Faith and Politics: Do We Need Religion in the Public Square?" at Samford University Oct. 11.
"Religions and religious faith have always been involved in American politics as both guiding forces and subject matter and they show no sign of disappearing in the foreseeable future," said Douglas, who teaches ethics at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga.
The event was sponsored by Samford's Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership.
Not only has religion been a "guiding force" in American politics, but according to Douglas, there's been an innate divisive nature between politics and religion since the inception of America.
"Political secularism has been in the U.S. formally, since the Bill of Rights. So politically, there's division [between religion and politics]," Douglas said.
"We started with political secularism, moved our way to cultural secularism and then that manifested itself into more of a civil religion," he added.
Douglas also stressed the idea of faithful engagement in the public square of private issues such as religion, but religious people are struggling to find their voice and to convey their message eloquently.
"There are religious voices all over the place in public, but they are having trouble being coherent," Douglas said.
Douglas spent time in 2006 writing an editorial for an Atlanta weekly The Sunday Paper. While engaging in public discourse about topics ranging from religion, politics, tragedies and contemporary issues, Douglas said he discovered that religious language tends to be tolerated.
"I learned people are more interested in 'attractive' than clear arguments," Douglas said.
Douglas teaches courses in science and religion and directs the master of arts in theological studies program at Columbia. He is author of the book, Believing Aloud: Reflections on Being Religious in the Public Square and founding editor of @this point: Theological reflections on church and culture, the seminary's online journal.
October 11, 2012 - While some students come from middle and high school situations where cheating is common, Samford University is stressing the value of academic integrity in a positive way--through student peers.
Samford's Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership has put together a program that appoints a group of students to be Academic Integrity Advocates. Their role is to help develop ways to reach other students, especially incoming freshmen, about the value of good academic behavior.
Is the program working?
"The program is doing a good job of educating students, which reduces the 'I didn't know that was considered cheating' factor," said Lydia Nace, a student who serves as an Academic Integrity Advocate.
She noted that the advocates are working to fulfill a Student Government Senate resolution to write an honor code for Samford. She said the advocates program will continue to take steps toward informing students about academic integrity "and how to respond to the new pressures of academic performance in college."
Nace was part of a group of students leading a Sept. 20 convocation on the topic, "When Winning is Losing: How Not To Get Ahead at Samford." They spoke at a freshmen convocation in Reid Chapel as part of the Mann Center's Courageous Conversations Series.
"The series encourages students to engage in moral discourse on difficult, yet critical issues," said Azalea Hulbert, Mann Center program director.
"Since many students come from schools where cheating is the norm, we feel it is very important to remind them, once they are here, that we have high standards at Samford and that we expect students to do their work honestly and with integrity," said Dr. John Knapp, Mann Center director.
"It is very powerful to hear upperclassmen reminding new students that a Samford degree really means something, and that it is essential to get in the habit of doing honest work."
The Mann Center attempts to remind students of the value of academic integrity in other ways. It continuously develops an online resource center with helpful materials on academic integrity for students and faculty. It also collaborates with the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) and other universities to identify new approaches and best practices in addressing academic integrity.
Knapp and Hulbert will present a program on the topic at the ICAI annual conference in November. And Samford will host the first Southeast Regional Academic Integrity Conference coming up next spring.
October 10, 2012 - Dr. Mark Douglas, a Christian ethics professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., will lead a program on "Faith and Politics: Do We Need Religion in the Public Square?" Thursday, Oct. 11, at Samford University.
The 6 p.m. program in the Carroll Moot Courtroom of Robinson Hall law building is sponsored by Samford's Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership. It is open to the public.
Douglas teaches courses in science and religion and directs the master of arts in theological studies program at Columbia. He is founding editor of @this point: Theological reflections on church and culture, the seminary's online journal.
Douglas is author of the book, Believing Aloud: Reflections on Being Religious in the Public Square. He is a graduate of Colorado College and Princeton Theological Seminary with a doctorate in religious ethics from the University of Virginia.