September 2012

Sacred Texts in the Public Sphere: Series of Talks by the Ignatian Center Begin Oct. 2

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sep. 17, 2012— As the 2012 election approaches, Santa Clara University’s Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education is holding a series of lectures titled Sacred Texts in the Public Sphere. Speakers will discuss the ways in which sacred texts such as the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Scriptures shape the hottest debates of our times: immigration, the economy, gay marriage, war, democracy, and the presidency.

“The U.S. Constitution guarantees the separation of Church and State, and rightly so,” said Michael C. McCarthy, S.J., director of the Ignatian Center, which seeks to advance the University’s commitment to integrate faith, justice, and the intellectual life. “And yet the United States is a remarkably religious country. For generations our public life has been deeply influenced by teachings and writings derived from religious traditions. When citizens apply their convictions with understanding, tolerance, sensitivity, and intelligence, we are a stronger nation for it, even when we may disagree profoundly on principles and policies.”

Throughout history, sacred texts have been used, and sometimes misused, by those seeking to assert authority in even the most secular corners of the public sphere: 

  *Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan cited biblical principles to defend his budget proposal, while its severe cuts to social services were labeled un-Christian by opposing critics. 
* President Obama cited scripture in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
*Swearing on the Bible has been a binding pledge for presidents, court witnesses, and judges for decades and more.

The Sacred Texts in the Public Sphere lectures begin on Oct. 2 and continue to Election Day on Nov. 6. The lectures are offered through the Center’s Bannan Institute, which hosts yearlong thematic programs to engage Santa Clara University and the larger community around issues of contemporary religious, cultural and theological debate. A full list of events and speakers is available at


*POLITICAL VIOLENCE: Ted Smith, professor at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, “Scriptural Politics of Democracy: Divine Violence and Higher Law.” He will discuss the use of “higher law” to justify violent political action. (Oct. 2, 4 to 5:15 p.m. at the St. Clare Room of the Library and Learning Commons.)

*IMMIGRATION: Kristin Heyer, religious studies professor at SCU, “Scriptural Politics of Immigration: Foundations of a Christian Immigration Ethic.” She will discuss how scripture sheds on prevailing views of immigration. (Oct. 9, 4 to 5:15 p.m. at the St. Clare Room of the Library and Learning Commons.)

*CATHOLIC MORALITY: M. Cathleen Kaveny, professor of law and theology at University of Notre Dame, “Voting, Religious Liberty, and the Common Good.” Issues will include Catholic morality, the 2012 election, and the U.S. bishops’ religious-liberty campaign. (Oct. 10, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Gesu Chapel of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University located in Berkeley.)

*WAR: The Rev. Daniel Bell Jr., professor of ethics and theology at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, “Scriptural Politics of War: Morality and War in Public Discourse.” Issues will include how scripture and tradition shape moral conversations about war. (Oct. 16, 4 to 5:15 p.m. at the St. Clare Room of the Library and Learning Commons.)

*CATHOLICS AND HEALTHCARE: Sr. Carol Keehan, CEO of the Catholic Health Association, “Catholic Healthcare: Mandates and Morals in an Era of Change.” Issues will include Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate and the controversy it sparked. (Oct. 17, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Recital Hall of Santa Clara University)

*HOMOSEXUALITY: Jeffrey Siker, professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, “Scriptural Politics of Family and Homosexuality: Textual Orientations.” Issues will include the presidential candidates’ views on same-sex marriage, and the scriptural or moral backings each cites for his position. (Oct. 23, 2012; 4 to 5:15 p.m. at the St. Clare Room of the Library and Learning Commons.)

*CATHOLIC CONSCIENCE: David DeCosse, professor of ethics at Santa Clara University, “Catholicism, Politics and the Primacy of Conscience: Reflections on Newman’s ‘Letter to the Duke of Norfolk.’” Issues include 19th Century English theologian John Henry Newman’s view of Catholic conscience. (Oct. 24, 4 to 5:15 p.m. at the St. Clare Room of the Library and Learning Commons.)

*ECONOMY: Catherine Murphy, religious studies professor at Santa Clara University, “Scriptural Politics of the Economy: Bringing the Gospel to Bear on Our Economic Debates.” Issues include the controversy over the Ryan budget and scripture as a resource for economic decision-making. (Oct. 30, 4 to 5:15 p.m. at the St. Clare Room of the Library and Learning Commons.)

*PRESIDENTS: James Bennett, professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University, “Scriptural Politics of the American Presidency: Religion in the 2012 Presidential Election.” Issues include the role of religion in presidential races, and the fact that this year’s ballot contains the most diversity in religious affiliations ever offered to voters. (Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012; 4 to 5:15 p.m. at the St. Clare Room of the Library and Learning Commons.)

About the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education
The Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education promotes and enhances the distinctively Jesuit, Catholic tradition of education at Santa Clara University, with a view to serving students, faculty, staff, and through them the larger community, both local and global. The vision of the Ignatian Center is to be recognized throughout Silicon Valley as providing leadership for the integration of faith, justice, and the intellectual life. The Center supports four signature programs: Bannan Institutes,  which are yearlong thematic programs engaging contemporary religious, cultural, and theological issues; community-based learning programs connecting students, the classroom, and the local community; immersion programs engaging students, faculty, and staff with the realities of communities locally, nationally and globally; and sharing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius with the broader Santa Clara Community. More information is available at

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relation | | 408-554-5121


Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education,election 2012