Baylor in Washington program models civil discourse in our nation’s capital
Since 2015, the Baylor in Washington program has provided students with opportunities to serve and learn inside the highest levels of government. Students live in D.C. for a semester, learning from high-level internships (think Congress, the Supreme Court, even the White House), guest speakers from throughout the government, and coursework focused on important national and global issues.
As part of this training, one of Baylor in Washington’s primary goals reflects one of President Livingstone’s points of emphasis over the last year: the need for civil discourse. Specifically, the D.C. program aims to “model charitable discourse by staging public conversations across political, ideological, and theological divides.”
“This is something that anybody who takes our country seriously, I think, needs to be very concerned about. I try to tell the Baylor in Washington students that a healthy polity ought to have a party of progress, and a party of conservation… And the relationship rhetorically between these two parties ought to be dialogical. All that I mean by that is it ought to be conversational…
“This is a conversation that has to be had democratically, and against that backdrop, you can see that we’re failing at that. We at Baylor in Washington are constantly trying to model and encourage the kind of civil discourse that I think is a duty of ours as Christians. Now, I think all citizens have a duty for civil discourse, but especially in Christians. Our highest calling is charity — to God, of course, but also to our neighbors, and I think that charity extends to how we talk to each other.”
For Baylor in Washington, that goal is lived out in the courses and mentorship they provide to students, but also in programming that shows how people of different ideologies can work together for the common good. Recent events include last year’s on-campus program with Drs. Robert George and Cornel West, this spring’s panel on Christian leadership in crisis with President Livingstone, and a recent discussion featuring two prominent Baylor alumni on how faith should inform one’s politics.
“How do you engage with people who are like you, who have the same political rights as you?” asks Corey. “You have to listen to them and engage with them as you would want them to engage with you… Our work is to demonstrate how to talk to people who differ with us politically, and just show that we can cooperate, and make compromises, and find common ground.”
Sic ’em, Baylor in Washington!