The recent recording of the Hugh Hewitt Show in McInnis auditorium was part of a birthday celebration for Eastern board member Jack Templeton.
The Feb. 19 show featured a debate between Eastern Professor Emeritus Tony Campolo and Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy, on the role of America in the world.
A series of events led to the broadcast: Templeton’s birthday, Hewitt’s interest in Campolo and Campolo’s availability the night of Templeton’s birthday.
“It was the perfect storm,” Eastern foundation member James Sweet said.
Sweet, who has known Hewitt for 15 or 16 months, invited Hewitt to come to Eastern at the behest of President David Black.
According to Black, the idea was hatched in a conversation with himself, Sweet and the Templetons and was sponsored by Pina Templeton as a birthday celebration for her husband.
Sweet said Hewitt came eagerly, provided he could have Tony Campolo on his show.
“Hugh’s always been interested and wanted to see Tony,” he said. “Part of the arrangement was to get Tony to talk to him on the air.”
Campolo and Hewitt did talk during the two-hour show, at times joking with each other during commercial breaks.
Mostly, however, Campolo and Gaffney talked, specifically about how America was dealing with the forces it was facing in the world.
Campolo, whom Hewitt described as center left, expressed deep reservations about America’s actions in the world and said America’s fight against terror is increasingly perceived as a conflict between Islam and Christianity.
“I don’t think we can afford that growing hostility, or we will have a massive struggle between the Muslim world and the Christian world in the years to come,” he said.
Gaffney defined the problem America faces as a totalitarian ideology. He called this ideology Islamo-fascism and said that it does not include all Muslims.
“The enormous contribution to this not becoming a clash of civilizations, and us not losing, is recognizing that there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world who are not Islamo-fascists,” he said.
Campolo, throughout the program, said that America must take its share of responsibility for conflicts such as those in Iraq and the Middle East. He suggested, among other things, that the Arab League take the place of U.S. troops in Iraq and that President Bush apologize to the United Nations for going into Iraq.
Gaffney instead emphasized the need to continue taking steps against terror and the regimes that support them, even though he was willing to admit that the process has not been perfect.
“You’ve got to understand the dynamic that’s at work here. Work at counteracting it, first and foremost, by discrediting it,” he said.
The broadcast ended with 45 minutes of questions from the audience.
The discussion was met with approval by the audience.
“There was more agreement than I expected,” senior Stephanie Hartman said. “Even when they disagreed, they managed to keep a congenial attitude.”
“I think it went swimmingly,” Michele Mugridge, an administrative assistant in the President’s office, said. “It shows the world that Eastern is committed to showing both sides to students.”
She and another administrative assistant in the President’s office, Alina Bice, worked for three months to organize the evening.
Not least impressed was the guest of honor, Jack Templeton, who received a cake and a reception after the broadcast.
“I think it went wonderfully well,” he said. “The name Eastern University was said 40-50 times in three hours, and I think it’s one of the blessings of tonight.”
Check out a podcast and transcript of the Feb. 19 show online at www.hughhewitt.townhall.com
Jack Templeton in profile
A former professor of pediatric surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania and president of the John Templeton Foundation since its 1987 foudning, he has been on Eastern’s board at least 15 years and provides financial support for the Templeton Honors College.
On joining Eastern: “I was captivated by the concept of the whole gospel for the whole world, that excellence in education should also be coupled with excellence in living out the Great Commission.”