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October 2007 CACE eJournal

Welcome to our October e-journal. As we move on into the year, we are now presented with a great opportunity for deep reflection on the relationship between faith and political life. On Thursday, October 11 we are having a conversation on the relationship of faith, politics, and morality with former Sen. Dan Coats and former Congressman Victor Fazio, moderated by Michael Gerson. This bi-partisan conversation will squarely face the opportunities and dilemmas of political engagement and there will be ample opportunity for the audience to be an active participant in the conversation. I am thrilled at the possibilities presented by this event. This is a free event, and the campus community and public are all warmly invited. Please see below for more of our forthcoming events this Fall. We are very excited about what is transpiring, and we hope you will be able join us for some of our events as we consider engaging the moral challenges in the world. In this month’s journal, we are featuring an excerpt of an article by Sen. Daniel Coats, and also linking you to an article by Professor Amy Black which originally appeared in Books and Culture magazine. Also, please take a look at our website and the resources we have available for your use, reflection, and edification.

Vince Bacote, Director of CACE

Upcoming Events:

"Christian Moral Engagement in Politics", Thursday, October 11, 7 PM Coray Event Center
Senator Dan Coats R-IN, former member of Congress from 1981-1999, joins us along with former Congressman Victor Fazio, Jr., D-CA who served from 1979-1999. Michael Gerson, Wheaton grad and former speech writer for the Bush White House, now op-ed columnist for The Washington Post and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations will be our moderator.

Wheaton Lecture in Christian Moral Formation, Thursday- Saturday, November 9-10, 2007
CACE welcomes to campus, Gideon Strauss for our Christian Moral Formation Lectureship. Gideon is the Research and Education Director of the Christian Labour Association of Canada and editor of Comment, the journal of the Work Research Foundation.

Faith in the Halls of Power, Wednesday, November 14 3:30 - 5 PM, Blanchard 339
Michael Lindsay, Rice University, Department of Sociology has recently completed the nation’s largest and most comprehensive study of public leaders who are people of faith.CACE events are free and open to the public. See www.christianethics.org for our 2007 - 2008 Event Schedule.

As appears in Policy Review, Hoover Institute
The retreat of Government, says the senator, does not automatically result in the rebirth of civil society.

In their 1975 book To Empower People, Richard John Neuhaus and Peter Berger challenged policymakers to protect and foster the "mediating structures"--neighborhood, family, church, and voluntary associations-that stand between the private individual and large government institutions. "Wherever possible," they wrote, "public policy should utilize mediating structures for the realization of social purposes."

Twenty years later, Washington is heeding the call. In October 1995, Senator Dan Coats introduced a package of legislative proposals to help empower local, community-based institutions that are addressing social problems. Crafted with the help of William J. Bennett, a codirector of Empower America, the "Project for American Renewal" comprises 19 separate bills designed to use public policy--and public resources--to energize mainly private efforts to meet human needs. Coats defended his legislation at a recent symposium at The Heritage Foundation; what follows are his remarks and critiques by some of the symposium's participants.

Senator Dan Coats Re-funding Our "Little Platoons"
An intellectual revolution is underway concerning the nature of our social crisis. It is no longer credible to argue that rising illegitimacy, random violence, and declining values are rooted in the lack either of economic equality or of economic opportunity. These positions are still current in our political debate, but they have lost their plausibility.

America's cultural decay can be traced directly to the breakdown of certain institutions--families, churches, neighborhoods, voluntary associations--that act as an immune system against cultural disease. In nearly every community, these institutions once created an atmosphere in which most problems--a teenage girl "in trouble," the rowdy neighborhood kids, the start of a drug problem at the local high school--could be confronted before their repetition threatened the existence of the community itself. Read more >>

As appears in Books & Culture Magazine, Christianity Today
Moral Issues and Legislative Politics
God, sex, and the U.S. House of Representatives
by Amy E. Black

How does any researcher begin to explain the motivations and work of 535 unique individuals (or even just the 435 members of the House of Representatives)? Congressional research is not simple, formulaic, or easy to grasp—and that is why political scientists like me find such work both invigorating and infuriating. Books, articles, and datasets can lead us to important insights, but study alone is not enough to grasp the intricacies of a complex and ever-changing institution like the U.S. Congress.

One source of assistance for congressional scholars hoping to explain aspects of legislative behavior is the American Political Science Association (APSA) Congressional Fellowship program, a fellowship based on the novel premise that those who study politics should get real-world experience to better understand the institutions and people they research. Congressional fellows spend a year working as full-time legislative staff on Capitol Hill, gaining an insider's perspective of life in the office of one or two members of Congress. While conducting much of the research for Compromising Positions: God, Sex, and the U.S. House of Representatives, APSA fellow Elizabeth Anne Oldmixon worked for two members of the House of Representatives, Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) and Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.). Her time on Capitol Hill working for members from both political parties gave her a window into the legislative process and access to members of Congress that made this insightful book possible.

Oldmixon began her research with this question: Do legislators approach moral issues differently from other issues they confront during the congressional term? Drawing upon interviews with 35 legislators and key congressional aides, data from a decade of roll call votes and cosponsorship of bills, and census information about congressional districts, she finds that lawmakers—and constituents as well—do indeed approach moral issues distinctively. Read more >>