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Last modified: Friday, March 26, 2004

Religion, politics and the 2004 presidential election to be discussed

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Religious, cultural and legal experts from Indiana University Bloomington and Indianapolis will discuss religious faith, politics and the 2004 presidential election during a panel discussion at Indiana University Bloomington on Thursday (April 1) at 7 p.m. in Jordan Hall, Room A100.

The program, "Faith and Politics: Election 2004," is free and open to the public, which will be able to ask questions of the panelists.

The panelists have expertise in a broad array of issues raised in this year's presidential election. For example, IUB Law Professor Daniel O. Conkle, who also is an adjunct professor in the Department of Religious Studies, will be able to speak to such issues as President George W. Bush's religion-based initiatives, his use of religious language and appeals, and whether religious politics is inherently conservative. Lindsey Mintz, lobbyist for the Jewish Community Relations Council in Indianapolis, plans to emphasize how "the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion and prohibits a state-sponsored church, has created the underpinning for the most religious country in the free world today."

"It is precisely because of our non-interference policy and the clear separation between church and state that religion may so readily flourish in this country," Mintz said.

Among the panelists will be Nazif Shahrani, professor and chair of the IUB Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, professor of anthropology, and professor of Central Eurasian Studies. Shahrani specializes in Islam in politics and the relationship of Muslim political movements, social change and development.

Other panelists will include Rev. Rebecca Jiménez (ABC/USA), campus minister and director of the IUB Center for University Ministry; Mintz, director of government affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council, which has been the public affairs and advocacy arm of the organized Jewish community in Indianapolis since 1942; and Conkle, who also is a Nelson Poynter Senior Scholar at IUB's Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions.

Panelists each will make opening remarks. Student moderators from IUB's Religious Studies Department and Jewish Studies Program will ask questions of the panelists. Members of the public will be able to ask questions of the panelists following the questions by the student moderators.

The program is presented by the Bill and Francis Julian Program for Inter and Intra Faith Understanding. It is co-sponsored by the Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program, the Department of Religious Studies and Union Board. A similar panel discussion was held in 2000.