Saturday, July 30, 2016

Politics after the Conventions: More Polarization or Reconciliation?

  By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

            Hillary Clinton has proclaimed herself to be a bridge-builder in contrast to Donald Trump’s nativist promise to build more walls to make America great again.  The dilemma for voters is choosing between believing Clinton’s lofty rhetoric based on her questionable character or risking the radical rhetoric of a rude, crude and unpredictable Donald Trump.

            A polarized two-party system and the resulting dysfunctional Congress brought us to this point in history.  The political polarization is not based on any particular issue but on America’s political culture.  Trump followers seek to restore an idyllic American greatness with a populist demagogue, while Clinton supporters claim America is the greatest nation in the world and want to keep it that way with politics as usual.

            This partisan political polarization is reflected in deteriorating relations in both race and religion.  The traditional racial divide in America has been exacerbated by white policemen who have used excessive force against blacks; and the growing religious polarization between Christians and Muslims is the result of radical Islamist terrorism, and it has as many implications for U.S. foreign policy and military operations as it does for domestic politics.

            Calls for unity at the Democrat Party convention may reconcile the socialist supporters of Bernie Sanders with mainstream Democrats, but it will not bridge the wide chasm between Republicans and Democrats.  Even if the nomination of Donald Trump motivates enough Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton and make her our next President, the partisan divide will remain; it has become part of our 2-party political culture.

            Colbert I. King has described the national disorder as who we are and chastised contemporary politicians, including President Obama and Hillary Clinton for failing to address the polarizing anger and hostility by merely proclaiming “This is not who we are.”  King did not include Donald Trump among the hypocrites since he has not only acknowledged but has unabashedly exploited the national disorder to further his political ambitions.

           Something has to change, or our pluralistic democracy will come apart at its seams.  A third party could be a mediating political force in the polarized 2-party politics of Congress.  Members of the House of Representatives are elected in local districts and should not have to run expensive campaigns, but the Republican and Democratic parties with their big-money backers have made congressional races more a contest for raising campaign funds than for votes, and they can be expected to fight any third-party challenge to their political duopoly.

            That is evident in the Fifth Congressional District of South Carolina, where The State newspaper omitted any reference to a third-party candidate and reported the race between the incumbent Republican and his Democratic opponent would be decided by which of them raised the most money.  Mick Mulvaney (R) has raised twice as much money from big-money donors as his Democrat opponent, but he accused the Democrat Party of trying to buy his House seat:     
“It's clear that the Obama-Biden fundraising machine is very active,” Mulvaney said in a statement. “I am looking forward to proving to national Democrats ... that you cannot cherry-pick a candidate, move him into our state, and buy a House seat in South Carolina.”
In the first quarter of this year, Person outraised Mulvaney, although the incumbent maintains an overall lead, having raised $841,882 this election cycle to Person's $403,443.
The race is drawing national attention from Democrats who hope to pick up seats in the House of Representatives this fall.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has labeled the race an “emerging race,” based on Person’s fundraising figures.
“Fran Person has proven he is one of the few Democrats who can raise the necessary funds to make South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District more competitive,” the Democratic committee said in its “Red to Blue” email, highlighting battleground races where the party hopes to make gains. 
Of the 10 races highlighted by the committee, the 5th District race is the only one in the Southeast outside Virginia.

            In the aftermath of the Republican and Democratic conventions—the first a raucous rejection of politics as usual with the nomination of a narcissistic, nativist and unpredictable populist demagogue, and the second a political lovefest of the practitioners and beneficiaries of politics as usual—there seems little prospect of reconciling deep-seated partisan polarization.  Third party candidates could mitigate against such a polarized partisan duopoly, but as long as they must raise a half-million dollars to be competitive, there is little chance that will happen.

Notes and references:

Michael Gerson has described the voter’s dilemma this way:
“This is an extraordinary political moment. Any reasonable Republican presidential contender other than Trump probably would be beating Clinton handily. Any reasonable Democratic contender other than Clinton probably would be beating Trump handily. The parties, in their wisdom, have chosen the untrusted against the unstable, the uninspiring against the unfit. Take your pick, and take your chances.”  See

In his speech at the Democratic convention President Obama referred to his mixed-race heritage that includes Scots-Irish grandparents, perhaps to mock those who have questioned his racial and religious heritage.  Republican hostility to Democrats might be explained by the influence of a fiercely independent Scots-Irish heritage.  See

On the different political dynamics of the election of the President and members of Congress, see

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Reconciliation and Reality

  By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

            Reconciliation is learning to respect and live in peace with those who are different than us.  Is it realistic?  It is central to the teachings of Jesus, but not to the Christian religion, which is based on exclusivist beliefs.  And reconciliation also seems contrary to human nature and its politics.  The survival of the fittest is characterized by competition, fear, divisiveness and anger.  The reality is that reconciliation is at odds with our traditional religious and political instincts.

            There is no better evidence of this than the popularity of Donald Trump, whose rude, crude and unabashedly nativist campaign has exploited American fears, anger and hatred of all who don’t fit the idyllic image of a great America of the past.  His followers want to make America great again, this time without any diversity.  The irony is that many of Trump’s followers claim to be evangelical Christians.

            This ugly reality is not limited to the U.S. but is a world-wide phenomenon, as evidenced by the Brexit vote in Great Britain, the election of Rodrigo Duterte as president of the Philippines, and the election of Pauline Hanson to the Senate in Australia.  This populist reaction to the diversity of globalization has been orchestrated by demagogues who share hostility to immigrants, especially Muslims, and promote fear, anger and hate rather than reconciliation.

            This populist political phenomenon has exposed the weakness of democracy, and unless corrected it will corrupt and undermine democracies around the world, beginning with the U.S.  A politics of reconciliation is essential to the future of a healthy democracy, but is it possible?  Not unless the majority of people in democracies are willing to accept increased diversity over purity in matters of race, religion and sexual preference.  With the inexorable forces of globalization promising more immigration and diversity, reconciliation seems problematic. 

            Most Americans claim to be Christians, and reconciliation is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus; but like the GOP, the Christian religion has been hijacked by populist religious leaders.  One is Joel Osteen, whose prosperity gospel has corrupted the teachings of Jesus into a gospel of health, wealth, and popularity.  It promotes an Old Testament god of worldly power who rewards the obedient and punishes the disobedient—doctrines that are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.

            According to Jesus, God’s will is to reconcile and redeem humanity, while Satan’s will is to divide and conquer.  The greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors as we love ourselves is the key to reconciliation, so long as we consider those of other races and religions to be our neighbors (see the story of the good Samaritan).  The popularity of Donald Trump indicates that Christians have allowed Satan’s will to trump (no pun intended) that of God.

            It seems counterintuitive to promote a politics of reconciliation, but that is what my campaign is about.  It is in opposition to the darker, more competitive and divisive forces of reality that govern partisan politics.  The primary focus of my campaign is to remind voters, most of whom claim to be Christians, that the moral imperative of their faith is to seek reconciliation with their neighbors, including those of other races and religions—even those of different sexual orientations.  That may not get me elected, but it is a message that voters need to hear.

            Our Founding Fathers understood that a healthy democracy required a sound moral foundation that was tolerant of diversity.  They created a Constitution that provides fundamental civil or human rights, beginning with the freedoms of religion and speech, that protect minorities from a tyranny of the majority.  We don’t have to look far today to see what the absence of those rights will produce.  In Islamic cultures that have apostasy and blasphemy laws and deny equal protection of the law to women and non-Muslims, there is no real justice.

            So, what will it be for the Fifth Congressional District of South Carolina and America?  Will it be political reconciliation and the redemption of a tolerant America, or the ugly reality of continued racial and religious division, anger and hatred, all perpetuated by a polarized two-party political system that exploits racial and religious differences to motivate their constituencies?  We will provide the answer at the ballot box this November.  Democracy makes us masters of our political destiny, for better or for worse.                    


According to Danielle Allen, the main question in this election is: Pull America together or break it up again?  Allen is critical of the divisiveness of Donald Trump and supports Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that “She, too, has character defects.  She, too is divisive.” Allen says that Clinton “has put bridge-building on the table as a top priority.  Only she has done so.” See

The Pew Research Center has found that most evangelical Christians, who make up approximately 20% of registered voters, support Donald Trump, and that most Nones (those with no religious affiliation), also make up approximately 20% of registered voters and support Hillary Clinton.  See

Joel Osteen is a proponent of the prosperity gospel that teaches that faithfulness provides worldly power and success.  See

Australia’s deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has criticized Pauline Hanson for advocating anti-Muslim policies similar to those of Donald Trump.  See
Countering the argument that religion has no place in U.S. politics, Zack Krajacic has asserted that “The Founding Fathers frequently articulated the importance of religion and morality in a democracy, and the key role they play in preserving liberty and freedom.”  See


Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Elusive Ideal of Political Reconciliation

   By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

            Racial and religious anger continues to polarize our politics.  Politicians have long used “hot button” issues to motivate their constituents with anger, and unfortunately it has often worked.  The cumulative effect has made partisan politics a dysfunctional process that doesn’t provide satisfactory choices for voters.  Few are happy with the choices they have for President.        

            If we don’t expunge anger from our politics it will corrupt and undermine our democracy.  It happened in the Civil War of the 1860s and to a lesser degree in the civil rights revolution in the 1960s.  The 18th century English sage Edmund Burke warned Americans that in a democracy we would forge our own shackles, and Pogo the Possum, a popular cartoon character of my generation, affirmed Burke when he observed that we have met the enemy and it is us

            In a democracy we shape our own government.  It is a reflection of our national morality, for better or for worse—and lately it’s been for the worse.  Partisan politics have become so divisive and acrimonious that they threaten political stability.  To avoid forging our own shackles we must promote a politics of reconciliation and restore legitimacy to our political process. 

            Religion is the primary source of our standards of legitimacy, but there is no mention of democracy, human rights or the secular rule of law in the ancient scriptures.  Those concepts were irrelevant in ancient times.  For moral guidance on political issues today we have to go to the greatest commandment as a common word of faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.  It requires that we love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. 

            The love command requires that we first provide a rule of law that protects our individual rights and that also provides for the common good, and balancing those two objectives is a continuing challenge in our democracy.  Second, we must protect people from those who would do them harm, and that requires law enforcement at home and military operations overseas.  Both security functions require the use of lethal force, and limits on the use of such force.

            Providing the essential functions of government raises contentious issues that require a politics of reconciliation.  It doesn’t require political unity, but it does require a willingness to debate public issues in a civil and respectful manner and to compromise on important issues to avoid gridlock. But don’t expect Republicans or Democrats to support such a concept.  Our two-party system is by nature divisive and favors an “us versus them” partisan dichotomy.

            Both parties have a vested interest in maintaining a divided electorate with ”hot button” partisan issues that promote special interest politics divided along partisan lines.  Partisan politics is about gaining and maintaining political power, not about doing what is best for the country; and unfortunately, the public seems to have acquiesced to such partisan polarization. 
            A politics of reconciliation is based on the moral imperative of faith to love God and our neighbors as ourselves—and that includes those of other races and religions.  But many believers are reluctant to consider such matters of faith with their politics, even though there is no reason or requirement to separate religion from politics and every reason to relate the two.  The so-called separation of church and state in the First Amendment to our Constitution only prohibits government from “...establishing any religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

            The Civil War was the tragic result of distorted religious and political beliefs trumping (no pun intended) reconciliation, and 100 years later in a separate but equal South racism again blocked justice.  While a measure of political reconciliation allowed passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,  racial hatred and anger have continued ever since, and once again we are experiencing deteriorating racial relations that threaten our political stability with racial violence.

            Like race, religious differences between Christians and Muslims have created hate and violence that require reconciliation.  Religious institutions should be leading the way toward interfaith reconciliation, but they aren’t doing that.  Most Christians and Muslims are exclusivist in their beliefs and resist religious reconciliation, and that has fostered religious polarization that is aiding and abetting radical Islamist terrorism at home and abroad. 

            God’s will is that all humanity be reconciled and redeemed, while Satan’s will is to divide and conquer.  Unfortunately, Satan does a convincing imitation of God in the church, mosque and in politics, and seems to be ahead of God in the polls.  Political reconciliation may seem an elusive ideal in today’s divisive political environment, but a politics of reconciliation is necessary to keep Satan from giving God a bad name and corrupting our democracy. 


Paul Waldman has opined that President Obama can’t bring us together primarily because his “…opponents have guaranteed that he would never be able to unite Americans about anything,” and because the current crisis is one of race.  See

Patrick Healy has commented on the inability of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton to be a unifying voice for the nation because of their unpopularity—more evidence of the failure of the two-party system to produce the political leadership needed to address racial and religious issues.  See

Michael Gerson has commented on how the forces of enmity versus empathy shape our decisions in our moment of division who will lead.  See

On President Obama’s radical experiment in national reconciliation with a meeting of senior police officers and Black Lives Matter activists, see


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Back to the Future: Race, Religion, Rights and a Politics of Reconciliation

  By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

            The recent unjustified killing of black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota and the killing of five white police officers in Dallas, along with ISIS inspired massacres in San Bernardino and Orlando and ISIS attacks overseas during Ramadan, remind us that our most daunting challenge today is to defend against racial and religious terrorism while countering the polarizing issues of race and religion with human rights and a politics of reconciliation.

            Thomas Jefferson provides us with a useful precedent on how human rights can address religious oppression, but in his 18th century world issues of race and civil rights were subsumed by the institution of slavery.  A terrible war would be fought before issues of racial justice superseded those of slavery; but even in the 18th century religious freedom was a major issue.

            Thomas Jefferson crafted the Declaration of Independence with its unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  As a slaveholder Jefferson was a hypocrite on issues of race and freedom, but he was a tireless advocate of religious freedom.  He considered his greatest accomplishment to be passage of the 1779 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and he helped make the freedoms of religion and speech first among our civil rights in the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Those fundamental freedoms have since become human rights under international law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). 

            As a deist, Jefferson was not religious, but he understood the power of religion in a democracy where most people are religious.  Jefferson was not a Christian and was an outspoken critic of the institutional church, but he considered the teachings of Jesus as “...the sublimest morality that has ever been taught.”  Jefferson applied the moral teachings of Jesus to his politics, but advocated that the mystical matters of religion be left to the realm of privacy.  George Washington affirmed that “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of society.”  

            Jefferson had his own copy of the Qur’an and affirmed the right of Muslims to have the freedoms of religion and speech.  Later, as President of the U.S. Jefferson engaged and defeated the Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean with U.S. Marines “…on the shores of Tripoli.”  They were 19th century predecessors of today’s Islamist terrorists.

            Since Jefferson’s day technological advances and globalization have dramatically changed the world, but not the propensity of human nature to hate and harm those of other races and religions.  Issues of race, religion and morality are more significant in U.S. domestic and foreign policy today—and just as contentious and corrosive—as in Jefferson’s day.  That’s because the expanded role of the U.S. overseas and the multifaceted forces of globalization have increased racial and religious diversity and its accompanied violence.

            Domestic issues involving race and religion can be addressed in the U.S. with a politics of reconciliation that provides legal and moral remedies, but overseas it is a different matter.  Islamic cultures do not accept the fundamental freedoms of religion and speech guaranteed by the ICCPR.  The Enlightenment that introduced libertarian democracy and human rights to the West had little effect in Islamic cultures, where Islamic law (shar’ia) remains dominant and stifles libertarian political values.

            Political leaders in the U.S. seem obsessed with combatting radical Islamist terrorism with military force, but Islamism is a fundamentalist form of Islam that is best countered by moderate Muslims who can challenge its legitimacy.  Muslims are now engaged in a battle of legitimacy between the harsh shari’a of Islamism and one compatible with political liberty.  Those Muslims who share our love for freedom are our allies in that battle; but we undermine their efforts with deployments of U.S. troops that radicalize young Muslims in Islamic cultures.

            Since the Arab Spring of 2011 concepts of legitimacy have begun to change in Islamic cultures, if by fits and starts; but President Obama has supported authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia that have used oppressive religious laws to silence their opposition.  Unless the U.S. reverses its strategic priorities it is likely to suffer defeat in the long term, since its policies alienate a growing number of young Muslims who are willing to fight and die for ISIS.

            For Islam to be a religion of peace and justice, shari’a must be considered a code of voluntary moral standards rather than a code of coercive laws.  Until that happens there can be no meaningful political freedom in Islam, and radical Islamist terrorism will continue to thrive.  An initial sign of progress will be the elimination of apostasy and blasphemy laws.

           The interwoven issues of religion, race and political freedom require a politics of reconciliation.  For religious issues, we can look back to the future to better understand how the freedoms of religion and speech, coupled with the greatest commandment to love God and one’s neighbor as oneself as a common word of faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims can counter radical Islamist terrorism.  Freedom is the best antidote for both religious and racial oppression.

Notes and related blogs:

Acrimonious politics existed among the Founding Fathers, but they seemed to take seriously “mutually pledging their lives” to the cause of libertarian democracy, something lacking today.  See

Previous blogs on related topics are at Faith and Freedom, December 15, 2014; The Greatest Commandment, January 11, 2015; Love over Law: A Principle at the Heart of Legitimacy, January 18, 2015; Jesus Meets Muhammad: Is There a Common Word of Faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims Today?, January 25, 2015; Religion and Human Rights, February 22, 2015; Religion, Race and the Deterioration of Democracy in America, March 12, 20116; God and Country: Resolving Conflicting Concepts of Sovereignty, March 29, 2015; Religion, Human Rights and National Security, May 10, 2015; Christians Meet Muslims Today, June 21, 2015; Politics and Religious Polarization, September 20, 2015; The Muslim Stranger: A Good Neighbor or a Threat?, October 25, 2015; The Four Freedoms, Faith and Human Rights, January 9, 2016; The Politics of Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves, January 30, 2016; Jesus Meets Muhammad on Issues of Religion and Politics, February 7, 2016; We Are Known by the Friends We Keep, February 14, 2016; Religious Violence and the Dilemma of Freedom and Democracy, April 16, 2016; The Relevance of Religion to Politics, April 30, 2016; and Religious Fundamentalism and a Politics of Reconciliation, May 21, 2016.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Need for a Politics of Reconciliation in the Wake of Globalization

  By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

            Globalization has increased racial and religious pluralism around the world, and the refugee crisis has spawned ugly populist politics that have exploited existing racial and religious prejudices.  In the U.S. a rude and crude Donald Trump is the presumptive presidential nominee of the GOP.  Rodrigo Duterte, a pugilistic Trump clone, is the new president of the Philippines.  And in Britain, Boris Johnson led a nativist revolt that produced Brexit.  They all relied on reactionary populist movements that exploited the fear of them (as in us versus them).

            The vilified them are refugees and immigrants who are seeking a better life.  They are seen in the same light as blacks in the U.S. and other vilified minorities around the world.  Such racial and religious prejudice is nothing new.  What is especially worrisome is its intensity and the resulting polarization of races and religions; and in Western libertarian democracies that translates into volatile politics—perhaps even the unraveling of the fabric of democracy. 

The flood of Muslim refugees fleeing ISIS terrorism in the Middle East and Africa has polarized Christians and Muslims in Europe.  It was intended by ISIS to precipitate a Jihad, or holy war.  Muslims are already a significant part of Europe’s population and are expected to surpass Christians as the world’s largest religion by 2050, and Muslims and Christians will continue to be a majority of the world’s population for the foreseeable future.  The polarization of Christians and Muslims can only portend more religious violence.

The inexorable forces of globalization cannot be turned back.  Nations may back out of treaties, as in Brexit, but they cannot purify their populations based on race or religion.  To stem the rising tide of racial and religious polarization a politics of reconciliation is needed, and it must be grounded on religious principles common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  The greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors as ourselves is a common word of faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims.  And in the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, made it clear that our neighbors include those of other religions—even apostates.

A politics of reconciliation requires that Jews, Christians and Muslims consider how their faith relates to issues of national sovereignty, democracy, human rights and the secular rule of law.  Since none of these political topics were addressed in the ancient scriptures, people of faith must consider them in light of the timeless and universal principle of the greatest commandment, and consider what it means to love God and our neighbors as ourselves in our time and place.

There has been a traditional reluctance to mix religion and politics, but it is time to abandon that tradition.  For any religion to be relevant it must relate to politics in the larger meaning of the word, which is the stewardship of our democracy.  Any religion that does not relate the love of God and neighbor to politics is irrelevant, and just as dead as a body without the spirit. (James 2:26)
            Christians in mainline denominations have apparently misunderstood the “separation of church and state” in the First Amendment of the Constitution.  It only prohibits “...any law establishing any religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  It does not require the separation of religion and politics.  Black Christians have never been reluctant to mix their religion and politics and have supported Democratic candidates since the 1960s; and evangelical Christians have unabashedly supported GOP candidates since the 1970s.

            Churches should not become tied to partisan politics.  That unnecessarily limits political choices and smacks of the political corruption so prevalent in the history of the church.  The church should never allow political loyalties to compromise its ultimate mission to promote the moral imperatives taught by Jesus.  Pope Francis has exemplified that trait by promoting a politics of reconciliation in matters of race and religion.

            God’s will is to reconcile and redeem humanity, while Satan’s will is to divide and conquer.  Unfortunately, Satan does a convincing imitation of God, much of it in the church and mosque.  Jesus taught that God is love and that there is no fear in love (1 John 4:16-18), while Satan exploits fear and anger to oppose God’s will.  Fear and anger seems to motivate voters more than promoting a politics of reconciliation.  Christians should turn that around.

            As Christians, we need to acknowledge that we live in a globalized world of increasing pluralism.  We must learn to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, or we will end up as enemies.  As a matter of both faith and politics, we need to elect leaders who let the world know they are Christians by their love, and they can do that by promoting a politics of reconciliation.

Notes and References to Related Blogs:

Jim Tankersley has noted the relationship between globalization and populist uprisings: “The forces driving populist uprisings, both against E.U. bureaucrats in Brussels and elected officials in Washington are complex and intertwined.  They include long simmering racial tensions and increased political polarization.  But across the West, the economist Branko Milanovic argues, the rise of populism corresponds to a decline in the income share held by the broad middle classes of those countries.”  Tankersley cited Dani Rodrick who postulated that we can have any two of democracy, national sovereignty and global integration, but never all three.  “You can’t have people voting their own interests, in a country that always places its own interests above the shared interests of the global community, while also stitching everyone’s economies together seamlessly.”  But that’s only if you assume that sovereignty is compromised if a nation puts its shared interests in the global community above its own interests.  Sovereignty allows international compacts and is not forfeited by them.  See
See the following related blogs in the Archives at Religion and Reason, December 8, 2015; Faith and Freedom, December 15, 2014; The Greatest Commandment, January 11, 2015; Love Over Law: A Principle at the Heart of Legitimacy, January 18, 2015; Jesus Meets Muhammad: Is there a Common Word of Faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims Today?, January 25, 2015;  Is Religion Good or Evil?, February 15, 2015; Religion and Human Rights, February 22, 2015; The Kingdom of God, Politics and the Church, March 15, 2015;  The Power of Humility and the Arrogance of Power, March 22,  God and Country: Resolving Conflicting Concepts of Sovereignty, March 29, 2015;  Faith as a Source of Morality and Law: The Heart of Legitimacy, April 12, 2015; Religion, Human Rights and National Security, May 10, 2015; De Oppresso Liber: Where Religion and Politics Intersect, May 24, 2015; Liberation from Economic Oppression, May 31, 2015; The Future of Religion: In Decline and Growing, June 7, 2015; Reconciliation in Race and Religion: The Need for Compatibility, not Conformity, July 12, 2015; Fear and Fundamentalism, July 26, 2015; Freedom and Fundamentalism, August 2, 2015; Balancing Individual Rights with Collective Responsibilities, August 9, 2015; How Religious Fundamentalism and Secularism Shape Politics and Human Rights, August 16, 2015; The European Refugee Crisis and Radical Islam, September 6, 2015; The Power of Freedom over Fear, September 12, 2015; Religion, The Pope and Politics in the Real World, September 27, 2015; Politics and Religious Polarization, September 20, 2015; Religion, Refugees and the Law: Where Jesus Meets Muhammad Today, November 29, 2015; Resettling Refugees: Multiculturalism or Assimilation?, December 26, 2015; Who Is My Neighbor?, January 23, 2016; The Politics of Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves, January 30, 2016; The American Religion and Politics in 2016, March 5, 2016; We Are Known by the Friends We Keep, February 14, 2016;  Religion, Race and the Deterioration of Democracy in America, March 12, 2016; Religion, Democracy and Human Depravity, March 19, 2016; Religion, Democracy, Diversity and Demagoguery, March 26, 2016; Standards of Legitimacy in Morality, Manners and Political Correctness, April 23, 2016; The Relevance of Religion to Politics, April 30, 2016; Religion and a Politics of Reconciliation, May 7, 2016; The Arrogance of Power, Humility, and a Politics of Reconciliation, May 14, 2016; Nihilism as a Threat to Politics, Religion and Morality, May 28, 2016; A Politics of Reconciliation with Liberty and Justice for All, June 18, 2016; and Brexit, Religion and a Politics of Reconciliation in Foreign Policy, June 25, 2016..