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At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The following postings have been filtered by tag religion and ethics. clear filter
  •  Conscience and Politics

    Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 12:34 PM

    Center Campus Ethics Director David DeCosse explores how understandings of conscience within the writings of the great 19th century English theologian John Henry Newman may be relevant to contemporary debates around Catholic conscience and freedom, Oct. 24, 4 p.m., in the Learning Commons. 

  •  Mandates and Morals: A Talk by Carol Keehan, DC

    Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 5:06 PM

    President and Chief Executive Officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States Carol Keehan, S.J., will discuss ethical issues facing Catholic health care providers at a talk Oct. 17, 7 p.m., in the St. Clare Room of the Santa Clara University Learning Commons. 

  •  Voting, Religious Liberty, and the Common Good

    Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 3:14 PM

    Cathleen Kaveny, John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and Professor of Theology at Notre Dame University, reflects on faith and ethics in an election year in a talk Oct. 10, 7 p.m., at the Jesuit Theological Seminary. 

    A member of the Massachusetts Bar since 1993, Professor Kaveny clerked for the Honorable John T. Noonan Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked as an associate at the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray in its health-law group.

    We are fortunate to present Professor Kaveny through the generosity of the Project on Conscience in Roman Catholic Thought funded by Phyllis and Mike Shea.  The event is co-sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, the Jesuit School of Theology, and Commonweal magazine.

  •  When Politics, Religion, and Journalism Collide

    Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 2:15 PM

    A panel of experts focuses on the ethical issues that arise for journalists when religion is so prominent in the current presidential election, Thursday, Oct. 4, 3:45 - 5:30 p.m., in Bannan 142 (Note location change).  Participants include expert journalists, a visiting group of masters’ students from Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany, and SCU faculty.

    According to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, American journalists “believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues,” thus creating an informed public square.

    Questions we will discuss: Should journalists incorporate cultural values in their coverage of the general election? Which values (and whose) should get prominence? Do journalists have a responsibility to reach beyond campaign platforms in order to provide the facts and perspectives that might stimulate broader discussion of issues such as contraception, same-sex marriage and immigration? What responsibility do journalists have, if any, to highlight “truthfulness” or the lack thereof? How should they define “truth” in this context? What is journalists’ responsibility to address stereotypes and fears regarding minority religions such as Islam, Mormonism, or Catholicism?

    Participants include:

    Gerardo Fernandez, Editor, Aliana Metropolitan News
    Josh Richman, Bay Area News Group
    Shirin Sadeghi, blogger and former producer for the BBC and Al Jazeera
    Peter Erlenwein, sociopsychologist, journalist and author
    Steven Saum, Editor, Santa Clara magazine
    Ingrid Stapf, Assistant Professor, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
    Students from Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg interdisciplinary masters program
    Sally Lehrman, Knight-Ridder Professor of Communication, Santa Clara University
    Paul Soukup, S.J., Associate Professor of Communication, Santa Clara University
    Katharine Heintz, Media Analyst and Lecturer, Santa Clara University
    Students from Santa Clara University, Introduction to Journalism and Media and Advocacy courses

  •  Religion, Ethics, and the 2012 Election

    Wednesday, Sep. 12, 2012 7:51 AM

    Tom Reese, S.J., research fellow at the Woodstock Center at Georgetown University, referred to the topic of his recent lecture at SCU--"Religion, Ethics, and the 2012 Election"---as the kind of thing one isn't supposed to talk about at the dinner table but the subject everyone wants to talk about.

    In his recent presentation, Reese, the former editor of America magazine, began with an analysis of religious voting patterns in the 2012 Republican primaries. Reese pointed out that the two Catholic candidates in the primary, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, received between them about 60 percent of the evangelical vote, while the Catholics went 50 percent for Romney. Similarly, while only one third of evangelical voters think Mormons are Christians, two thirds of Catholic voters think they are.

    Reese speculated that these numbers reflect "more about culture than religion." Republican Catholics tend to be better off, better educated, and live in the suburbs, and "Romney looks like one of their neighbors or the boss who hired them," he observed. By contrast, evangelicals tend to be lower income, less educated, and come from small towns. "Romney looks like the boss who fired them," Reese said.

    Reese stressed that Catholic clergy do not come out in favor of one candidate or another, unlike many of their evangelical peers. They do, however, take positions on the issues, one of which, during this campaign season, has been religious liberty.

    Religious liberty issues have been part of the discussion on the state level for some time, Reese explained. For example, he cited the decision by the Massachusetts and Washington D.C. dioceses to withdraw from the adoption field when state and district law required that they place foster children with gay married couples. In D.C., Catholic Charities also decided not to continue to provide spousal benefits for any of their employees because if they did, they would have had to provide them for gay married couples, as well.

    On what is traditionally thought of as the more liberal side of the ledger, the Church has opposed efforts by some of the states to outlaw transport, shelter, or other aid for undocumented immigrants. The Church, Reese said, was guided by the idea of the Good Samaritan and did not want to have to ask people about their immigration status before giving them a spot in a homeless shelter or taking them to Mass. Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles went so far as to tell his priests to break the law and accept going to jail rather than refuse services to the undocumented.

    This was the atmosphere in which the controversy over the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act exploded in January. Twenty states, Reese pointed out, already had such contraceptive mandates, and Church institutions had variously responded by dropping drug coverage, self-insuring, or complying. This year, the federal government decided to include contraception as one of the preventive services of the Affordable Care Act, for which no copayments can be required.

    There was an exemption for religious employers, which defined "religious employer" as

    • An employer that has inculcation of religious values as its main purpose

    • An employer that primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets

    • An employer that primarily serves people who share its religious tenets

    • A religious organization that is not required under the Internal Revenue Code to file a 990 information return

    Reese believes that if the administration had stuck with just the final part of this four-part definition, the controversy would have been avoided, but the other elements raised hackles, not only among the bishops but also among both conservative and liberal Catholics. They were interpreted as the government telling Church institutions to violate their beliefs.

    In February, the administration revised the mandate: Religious institutions would not be required to pay for insurance with contraceptive coverage, but insurance companies would be required to provide this insurance for free, on the theory that it was more cost-effective anyway for the companies to pay for birth control than to pay for labor and delivery.

    That revision has not pleased the bishops, for a number of reasons. They see it as an accounting gimmick rather than a solution. An attorney for the US Council of Catholic Bishops also suggested that the exemption should extend to anyone with a moral objection to the mandate, not just religious employers. "If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell," he said, "I'd be covered by the mandate," implying that it would be unfair to ask him, even as a private employer, to participate in a public program that violated his beliefs.

    The Catholic Health Association at first welcomed the administration's revision and said it was willing to work with the administration on refining it. But later, CHA proposed a total exemption from the mandate for religious hospitals and universities, with the federal government picking up the tab for contraceptive coverage.

    Reese suggested another approach to the controversy. Even in pre-Vatican II days, Catholic moral theologians have made a distinction between formal cooperation with evil and material cooperation with evil. If people cooperate formally, it means that they agree with the goal of the evil person and their action is in service of that goal. Formal cooperation is never acceptable. In material cooperation, a person does not agree with the goal, but might be under coercion or compulsion. A classic example would be the bank teller who stuffs the stolen money into the robber's sack because the robber is holding a gun to her head. In that case, the cooperator is not seen as guilty. Church institutions, Reese argued, could frame the contraceptive mandate issue as one where they are being compelled to material cooperation.

    Reese is a distinguished visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. He is a frequent commentator on Catholic issues, with recent appearances on NPR and "The Colbert Report."

  •  Religion, Ethics, and the 2012 Election

    Wednesday, Jul. 25, 2012 3:08 PM

    Thomas Reese, SJ, popular commentator on the Catholic Churc and the role of religion in politics, will speak August 9, 5-5:30 p.m., in the St. Clare Room of the Learning Commons on the Santa Clara University Campus.

    Reese is the author of the Washington Post blog "This Catholic's View," part of the On Faith section.  He is the former editor of America Magazine.

  •  Catholicism, Freedom, and the Fate of Health Care Reform

    Friday, Jun. 1, 2012 12:45 PM

    Does the mandate to buy health insurance, which is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, violate the freedom of individual choice?  David DeCosse, director of campus ethics, explores traditional Catholic ideas about freedom and applies them to health reform in this article for the National Catholic Reporter.

  •  Why is Religious Liberty the First Freedom? (podcast)

    Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012 5:17 PM

    Hear a talk by Michael McConnell, Mallory Professor of Law, Stanford Law School, and Director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, on freedom of religion.  McConnell explores whether religious liberty should have priority over other rights. This question is at the heart of the current national debate over religious freedom, contraception, and the new federal health care law.

  •  Religious Liberty: The First Freedom

    Friday, Apr. 13, 2012 2:52 PM

    Michael McConnell, a leading authority on freedom of speech and religion, will discuss "Why Religious Liberty Is the First Freedom" in a talk Tuesday, April 17, at noon on the Santa Clara University campus.  A professor of law and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University, McConnell is the author of The Consitution of the United States and Religion and the Constitution, and the co-editor of Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought.  The presentation will be held in the Wiegand Center, Arts & Sciences Building.

  •  Gurcharan Das on "The Difficulty of Being Good"

    Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 4:43 PM

    Author and former Managing Director of Procter & Gamble Worldwide Gurcharan Das visited the Center last week to talk about his most recent book, The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma. (podcast)

    Das draws on the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, to explore dharma, which deals with the basic principle of the universe and how a person may act in conformity with it.  He argues that dharma, which is a pragmatic notion, is a useful approach to the kind of governance failures he observes in the world today.

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