Howard Dean will be speaking at a very important political event at Eastern on March 29.
Dean has been asked to speak on behalf of the new move by the Democratic Party to reach out to people of faith.
Dean served as the governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2003 and ran for President in 2004. Though he lost the Democratic nomination to John Kerry, Dean found a way to stay in politics as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
“He [Dean] has created a subcommittee to the DNC called ‘Faith in Action,’ which is comprised of 20 clergy persons,” Professor Emeritus Tony Campolo said.
This group consists of people from all different religions, including Protestants, Catholics and Muslims.
This group’s job is to spark dialogue between Democratic politicians and people of faith, and it has held various summits all over the country. Key speakers at these events have included Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo and Howard Dean.
“He [Dean] is really opening himself and the party to faith,” Campolo said.
Historically, faith has not been something that the Democratic Party has often addressed or talked freely about. Dean hopes to change some of these attitudes by being more open toward and willing to talk about faith.
“America is a religious nation. We think in religious terms,” Campolo said. “Religion is important, and it was clear to those in politics that religion cannot be put aside.”
Senior Josh Meyer is excited for the opportunity to hear Dean and hopes that more people will realize that Christianity can cross party lines.
“I am excited for him to come and for people to learn that there are other issues besides abortion and gay rights,” Meyer said. “There are issues that are Biblical, and one might be surprised to find they have more in common with the Democrats.”
As the nation moves closer to the 2008 Presidential election, the issue of faith among the candidates will be publicly discussed and scrutinized. However, the Democrats may be better poised to talk about faith than they have in the past.
“We have an interesting situation where the Democrats, Obama and Clinton, are very committed church people; and the Republicans, Giuliani and McCain, are both uncomfortable in church,” Campolo said.
“For too long they’ve [Democrats] been trying to hide from the issue of faith, and it will be good to have Dean here to specifically address it,” Meyer said.
This speech will be very important not only for Dean, but also for politics, religion and Eastern.
“Usually, speeches like this occur at a big school like Harvard or a Christian school like Wheaton,” Campolo said. “It just shows the emergence of Eastern as a school to be reckoned with.”
Not wanting to align Eastern with any particular party, the school has also invited Mark Duncan, the chairman of the Republican National Committee to come to Eastern and speak.