In our nation, information and ideas are routinely reduced to sensationalized sound bites and argumentative banter. It is time for people of faith to change the direction and tone of the discussion between faith and politics. We must be the change that needs to take place in order to be a civil society. This adult study is a beginning, bringing about change, one community at a time.
Liberty and Justice for All is
A 7-session lay-led course that requires no addional work from clergy. This adult study helps people to discern the values that shape and determine their faith and political beliefs. Each session is enriched with content from readings, discussions, activities, and video presentations. Between sessions, group members meet one on one to share their personal journeys and expand the discussion. The course affirms that:
- each person’s life experiences lead to a unique set of beliefs and values;
- the power of listening is an essential quality of communication;
each person has a need to hear and to be heard with understanding, with compassion, and without judgment;
participants will bring diverse faith traditions and political beliefs to the conversation;
- and that together, they can create a safe environment to consider their own faith and political journeys and learn how to discuss potentially contentious issues openly and with civility.
Liberty and Justice for All is not
A debate between Republicans and Democrats.
A debate between religious liberals and conservatives.
- An action community that focuses on solutions to specific problems.
A Curriculum for Adult Study
Liberty and Justice for All has three primary goals:
1. To teach a set of skills designed to raise the level of civility present in conversations about faith and politics.
2. To provide a basic overview of major historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, as well as teachings from the Old and New Testaments.
3. To increase awareness of the importance of people of faith being involved in the political process.
*Each session includes a 30-minute DVD segment to be viewed at home prior to class. Presenters include: Dr. M. Scott Peck, author, psychiatrist, and theologian; The Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Executive Director, Sojourners; Dr. Marcus Borg, historian, author, and Professor of Religion and Culture, Oregon State University; The Rev. Jeb Stuart Magruder, minister, author, and former White House official; The Hon. Judith L. French, Judge, Ohio Court of Appeals; The Hon. Thomas J. Moyer, Chief Justice, Ohio Supreme Court; and The Rev. Dr. Richard A. Wing, Senior Minister, First Community Church, Columbus, Ohio.
*Discussions and activities build small-group learning communities that can help congregations, organizations, and individuals learn how to discuss potentially contentious issues.
*Participant Books help group members identify their own faith and political beliefs and practice speaking and listening with understanding.
*The Facilitator Guide offers suggestions to lead participants through each session. Facilitator training is available on a convenient website.
*My Civility Toolkit, included in both participant and leader resources, offers practical tips to improve communication skills and build community.
Unique Online Facilitator Training
If the topic of this study interests you but the thought of finding facilitators seems challenging, relax! Faith and American Politics provides online, interactive facilitator training. This step-by-step, self-paced training helps lay leaders make this course easy for themselves and for participants. Access to the facilitator training site comes free with your purchase of Liberty and Justice for All and helps facilitators to feel equipped for their role. Click here to view a sample of the online facilitator training. Then hit your back button to make your purchase.
Through extensive testing of these resources, course designers have noticed that the optimal group size is between 12 and 15, including two facilitators. Having a dozen participants assures a diversity of opinion and also makes it possible for each participant to have a voice in discussions.
Co-facilitation is recommended for the best possible group experience. Facilitators should complete the online training prior to the Overview session; then review prior to each session.
To Get Started
Purchase a Starter Kit
Includes 2 copies of the Facilitator Guide (with 2 DVDs) and 10 Participant Books (with DVDs) LJASK – $239.40
Purchase additional copies of the Participant Notebook, if needed
Includes 1 DVD LJAPB – $19.95 each
Purchase additional Facilitator Guide, if needed
Includes 1 DVD LJAFG – $23.95 each
How This Resource Developed
Dr. M. Scott Peck, bestselling author of The Road Less Traveled, had deep concern for the deteriorating discourse across our nation regarding politics. In 2004 he read a sermon by Dr. Richard A. Wing, Senior Minister of First Community Church in Columbus, Ohio on just this topic. Peck wrote a proposal to create this study. Lay leaders at First Community Church studied, created, and tested this course to be a lay-led activity that requires no additional participation from clergy. Liberty and Justice for All is now available for congregations across the county through Logos Productions.
The program consists of a one-hour orientation session and six two-hour sessions on these themes: Yearning for Change, Conceived in Liberty, God’s Passion for Justice, Separation of Church and State – Then and Now, Biblical Call to Justice – Jesus and the Prophets, and My Personal Compass
*30-minute video segment viewed at home, prior to discussion
*Community-building exercises that reinforce communication skills
*Questions framed around key themes to stimulate conversation
*Small-group discussions that allow participants to delve into content
Liberty & Justice for All has been created by Faith & American Politics, Inc., a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization in Columbus, Ohio, established in 2005 and supported by foundation grants, including The First Community Foundation. The organization and course do not endorse any denominational point of view, specific political issues, or candidates. It is published by Logos Productions, Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. www.logosproductions.com