As the country examines the tone of political dialogue, the National Constitution Center presents an interactive, interdisciplinary forum titled “Can We Talk? A Conversation about Civility and Democracy in America.” The forum explored the current state of public discourse and the issue of civility in the context of the roles that dissent and protest play in American politics.
Participants, drawn from such fields as history, political philosophy, political science, law, sociology, journalism, and communications discussed key themes such as the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, the concept of civic virtue, the importance of dissent and deliberation in America’s constitutional democracy, and the ways in which political actors and the media can contribute to or detract from productive public discourse.
In this excerpt from the Can We Talk: Religion breakout session, participants consider whether there is a religious obligation to become an active participant in society, and how religion creates both civility and incivility.
Participants include: Jeff Bundy, Community Relations Manager – WHYY; Francis Graham Lee, Professor of Political Science – St. Joseph’s University; Jeanne Halgren Kilde, Director, Religious Studies Program – University of Minnesota; Thomas Kidd, Associate Professor of History and Senior Fellow, Institute for Studies of Religion – Baylor University; Munir Kreidie, teacher – Kensington CAPA; Susan Meyer, Senior Director – WOSU Public Media; Erik Owens, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theology and International Studies – Boston College; and Laurence Tom, pastor – Chinese Christian Church and Center.