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This episode will be the first in a new series on democracy. In the United States, democracy is the way our cities, counties, states, and nation is governed. In many faith groups democracy is the way the faith community is governed. Democracy has provided such a vision for change both in our nation and around the world, we have a hard time imagining anyone raising questions about it or its value. Yet there are different voices that still have much to say about democracy, some of it critical.
American Indian scholars argue that the lack of acknowledgement of how democratic practices among American Indians shaped the formation of democracy in the United States continues to contribute to the exclusion of American Indians from our nation’s electoral processes.
Theologians like Stanley Hauerwas argue that by so integrating themselves into the agenda of United States politics and by accepting as their own concepts like justice, religious liberty, and democracy as our nation has defined them, churches have compromised their capacity to act faithfully as the church.
Economic anthropologist Jason Hickel argues that many indigenous cultures around the world are rejecting democracy, in part due to its being partnered with free-market capitalism, because it is destructive of the cultures and identities of those peoples, making their lives worse and not better.
The disputes over voting laws and practices reveal that many contend that democracy still needs to be improved.
We know that other nations who consider the United States to be their enemy pose external threats to our democracy, but the ambitions and aspirations of Donald Trump and the willingness of his devoted followers to use violence to seek their will and impose their way pose an internal threat to our democracy.
So, to me, democracy is something we need to think and talk about. That is the purpose of this series.
To begin our conversation, I am turning to Dr. Gary Peluso-Verdend.
Dr. Peluso-Verdend is the executive director of the Center for Religion in Public Life at Phillips Theological Seminary. He is also president emeritus and a visiting research professor at Phillips. He is a clergy member of the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church. Dr. Peluso-Verdend teaches seminary classes and also conducts discussion-groups with lay people on faith and democracy. You can email Dr. Peluso-Verdend to communicate with him or connect with what he is doing at Gary.Peluso@ptstulsa.edu
The music for this episode is from a clip of a song called ‘Father Let Your Kingdom Come’ which is found on The Porter’s Gate Worship Project Work Songs album and is used by permission by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project. You can learn more about the album and the Worship Project at theportersgate.com.