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Event Summary

Wednesday at AEI, a discussion cosponsored by AEI’s Values & Capitalism project and Hope College explored public policy engagement by the US evangelical community in recent decades, offering critique as well as recommendations for improved evangelical political engagement.

In a keynote address, Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center urged Christians to maintain an “Augustinian sensibility” in their civic engagement by more clearly realizing the world’s fallen state but simultaneously “seeking the welfare of the earthly city” through “convicted civility” and prudence. Timothy Dalrymple of Patheos responded by calling for renewed evangelical engagement more characterized by independence, charity, and radical honesty.

Like the structure of the three-part book this event was based on, panels on domestic policy, global issues, and cultural engagement ensued. During the first, leading Christian college professors discussed our criminal justice system, free market economics, antipoverty policies, and immigration. During the second, foreign policy scholars commented on Christianity’s connections to contemporary human rights language, Middle East instability, and the application of “both truth and grace” in settings plagued by conflict and war.

Finally, the third panel challenged evangelicals to move beyond a “culture wars” mind-set and instead act, as Dalrymple explained, as “cultural conservationists, conversationalists, and entrepreneurs.” As one place to start, Jeff Polet of Hope College urged Christians to counter dominant cultural trends in cohabitation, the hookup culture of many college campuses, and a steep downturn in US fertility rates — as these dynamics shape the lives of many millennials now struggling to find work.

Event Description

The emergence of evangelical Christians on the American political scene has been a critical development of the past several decades. Yet while religious voting patterns have been closely scrutinized, evangelical participation in current policy debates has not. How does a biblical response to poverty, or convictions about the dignity and responsibility of work, translate into public policy? In an age of international conflict, how do evangelicals approach global issues? When questions about federal spending, rising debt, and the best ways of encouraging free enterprise are sharply debated in the public square, what can Christian citizens bring to the table?

At this AEI Values & Capitalism event, cosponsored with Hope College, leading Christian college professors will highlight recent findings about how — in these consequential times — values inform evangelical participation in policy debates. Complimentary copies of “Is the Good Book Good Enough? Evangelical Perspectives on Public Policy” (Lexington Books, 2nd Edition, 2013) will be available for all conference attendees.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


11:45 AM
Registration and Luncheon

12:00 PM
Josh Good, AEI
Michael Cromartie, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Timothy Dalrymple, Patheos

1:00 PM
Panel I: Evangelical approaches to domestic policy questions
Timothy J. Barnett, Jacksonville State University
Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, Gordon College
Stephen V. Monsma, Calvin College
Jennifer E. Walsh, Azusa Pacific University

Josh Good, AEI

2:15 PM

2:30 PM
Panel II: Evangelical views on global issues
Zachary Calo, Valparaiso University School of Law
Ron Kirkemo, Point Loma Nazarene University
Kurt Werthmuller, Hudson Institute

David K. Ryden, Hope College

3:30 PM
Panel III: Engaging culture: Counterforce or capitulation
Timothy Dalrymple, Patheos
Jeff Polet, Hope College
David K. Ryden, Hope College

Jennifer E. Walsh, Azusa Pacific University

4:30 PM
Adjournment and Reception

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Greg Lane at [email protected], 202.862.4879.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Timothy J. Barnett is an associate professor of political science at Jacksonville State University. He is a former president of the Alabama Political Science Association, and has written on legislative politics, constitutional federalism, monetary policy, and freedom of religion. Barnett’s scholarship in the area of religious liberty examines communitarian values in federalist societies. In the field of political economy, Barnett is developing market-based options for narrowing the demographic wealth gap without reliance on governmentally managed redistributive programs. His latest book is titled “America’s False Recovery: The Coming Sovereign Debt Crisis and Rise of Democratic Plutocracy.”

Zachary Calo is a law professor and Swygert Research Fellow at the Valparaiso University Law School. He previously practiced banking and commercial law in Washington, DC. He has been a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and the Institute for Humane Studies. He has also taught in the law schools at the University of Notre Dame and DePaul University. He serves on the organizing committee of the Association of American Law Schools’ Law and Religion Section, the Advisory Board of the Younger Comparativists Committee of the American Society of Comparative Law, the Academic Advisory Board of the John Jay Institute, and the editorial boards of the European Journal of Law and Religion and the Journal of Christian Legal Thought. He has lectured in South America, Europe, Asia, and throughout the United States, and his writings have appeared in such publications as the St. John’s Law Review; the Arizona State Law Journal; the Journal of Law and Religion; the Chicago-Kent Law Review; the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy; and the Journal of Catholic Social Thought.

Michael Cromartie is vice president at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he directs both the Evangelicals in Civic Life and Faith Angle Forum programs. In September 2004, Cromartie was appointed by former president George W. Bush to a six-year term on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. A senior adviser to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and a senior fellow at the Trinity Forum, Cromartie is also an advisory editor of Christianity Today, and served as an adviser to the PBS documentary series “With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Christian Right in America.” He has contributed book reviews and articles to First Things, Books and Culture, Crisis, The Washington Times, The Reformed Journal, Insight, Christianity Today, Stewardship Journal, World magazine, and The Presbyterian Journal. He is the coeditor, with Richard John Neuhaus, of “Piety and Politics: Evangelicals and Fundamentalists Confront the World”(1987) and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs including National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Things Considered, NBC’s Evening News with Brian Williams, ABC’s World News Tonight, and CNN, among others.

Timothy Dalrymple helped launch Patheos, an online marketplace of religious ideas, where he serves as director of content as well as managing editor of its evangelical channel. The son and grandson of ministers, Dalrymple writes fiction and has published several international commentaries on Soren Kierkegaard. While in graduate school, he worked for three years as a chaplain in a maximum-security prison, and he has ministered in congregations in America and overseas. Dalrymple is a blogger, author, and entrepreneur.

Josh Good is the program manager for the Values & Capitalism initiative at AEI. Good previously spent four years as a consultant at ICF International, where he worked on responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage initiatives, alongside Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare officials.  He also worked on a national public-private partnership that served ex-prisoners in collaboration with congregations and businesses.  His publications have appeared in National Review, The Washington Times, The Weekly Standard, Patheos, Capital Commentary, and elsewhere.

Ron Kirkemo taught political science and international politics at Point Loma Nazarene University for 40 years. He began the political science major at Point Loma and developed the university’s Institute of Politics and Public Service to promote government service and success strategies for post-graduation life. He was an early member of the National Association of Fellowships Advisors, where he learned insider knowledge for advising students on their applications. He is the author of two books on faith and foreign policy, titled “Between the Eagle and the Dove” (1976) and “Embraced and Engaged: Grace and Ethics in American Foreign Policy” (2010), as well as an introductory book on international law, several chapters in other books,  and two college histories. In his retirement, he took seven elements of Richard Nixon’s statecraft and wrote a daily devotional around them called “Soulcraft.”

Ruth Melkonian-Hoover is chair and associate professor of the political science department at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, where she also directs the international affairs major. Her scholarly interests include Latin America, immigration, women and politics, and religion and international affairs. She has published articles in Social Science Quarterly, The Review of Faith & International Affairs, Latin American Perspectives, and Political Research Quarterly.

Stephen V. Monsma is a senior research fellow at the Paul Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College and a professor emeritus of political science at Pepperdine University. He has published widely in the fields of public policy, church-state relations, and faith-based nonprofit organizations. His best-known books are “Pluralism and Freedom: Faith-Based Organizations in a Democratic Society” (2012), “Healing for a Broken World: Christian Perspectives on Public Policy” (2008), “The Challenge of Pluralism: Church and State in Five Democracies” (2nd Edition, 2009, with J. Christopher Soper), “Faith, Hope and Jobs: Welfare-to-Work in Los Angeles” (2006, with J. Christopher Soper), “Putting Faith in Partnerships: Welfare-to-Work in Four Cities” (2004), “When Sacred and Secular Mix: Religious Nonprofit Organizations and Public Money” (1996), and “Positive Neutrality” (1993).

Jeff Polet is a professor of political science at Hope College. He serves on the board of directors for the Front Porch Republic and the Academy of Philosophy and Letters. He has written and published extensively on a broad array of topics in American politics and political theory, including topics such as election law, faith-based policy, contemporary German political thought, historical American thought, literature and politics, and political theology.

David K. Ryden is a professor of political science at Hope College. He has authored, coauthored, or edited six books, including “Is the Good Book Good Enough?: Evangelical Perspectives on Public Policy” (2010), “Sanctioning Religion?: Politics, Law, and Faith-Based Public Services” (2006), “Of Little Faith: The Politics of George W. Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives” (2004), “The U.S. Supreme Court and the Electoral Process: Perspectives and Commentaries on Contemporary Cases” (2002), and “Representation in Crisis: The Constitution, Interest Groups, and Political Parties” (1996). He has also authored numerous articles and chapters on the topics of religion, law, and politics.

Jennifer E. Walsh is a professor of political science and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Azusa Pacific University where she regularly teaches courses on civil rights and liberties, the federal judiciary, the US Congress, and the American presidency. An expert in crime policy, Walsh’s recent publications include “Three Strikes Laws” (Greenwood Press, 2007) and a chapter in “Is the Good Book Good Enough?: Evangelical Perspectives on Public Policy”(Rowman & Littlefield, 2011). In 2009, she was an invited speaker before the New Zealand parliament on pending legislation, and, in 2011, she was an invited participant in a faculty development seminar on religious freedom and the rule of law in Shanghai and Beijing, China. Additionally, she is frequently consulted by print and broadcast media on a range of issues related to local, state, and national politics.

Kurt Werthmuller is currently an adjunct professor of Islamic history at the Catholic University of America; adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom; and a commissioned scholar with the Christianity & Freedom Project for the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs at Georgetown University. In his full-time work for the Hudson Institute from 2011 to 2012, Werthmuller researched political and societal trends in the status of religious minorities in the Arab world. During that time, he authored a variety of op-eds and policy analyses for the public and foreign policy community in the Huffington Post, Patheos, EgyptSource, the National Review Online, and others. He also spoke to a broad range of audiences on ongoing Arab transitions, including testifying about the new Egyptian constitution before the Congressional Caucus on International Religious Freedom, speaking on Al-Jazeera English about the “Innocence of Muslims” riots, and presenting on the Arab Spring for the annual Franz Lecture at Gordon College. Werthmuller was formerly an associate professor of history at Azusa Pacific University (2007–11), assistant professor of history at Geneva College (2005–07). He is the author of “Coptic Identity and Ayyubid Politics in Egypt, 1218-1250” (American University in Cairo Press, 2010) and a series of historical profiles for the “Dictionary of African Biography” (Oxford University Press, 2011), among other scholarly works.

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