The role of religion in shaping public-health policy will be explored in two seminars that will be held in early November at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph.
The seminar, free and open to the public, is the fifth and final in a series of interfaith programs, “Exploring Questions of Life and Death,” sponsored this year by the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish-Christian Learning, a partnership of St. Thomas and St. John’s University, Collegeville.
The center, in its role as a forum for frank interfaith dialogue, has brought together for this series prominent Jewish and Christian thinkers who examine issues ranging from health-care allocation to care at the end of life.
The concluding seminar, “Religious Faith and Public-Health Policy,” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium at St. Thomas, and again at 9:40 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3, in Alumnae Hall, Haehn Campus Center, on the St. Benedict campus.
Speaking and leading the discussions will be Rabbi David Saperstein and the Rev. J. Bryan Hehir.
Saperstein is director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. He has headed several religious coalitions and served on the boards of numerous national organizations, including Common Cause, the NAACP and People for the American Way. Recently appointed by Congress to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, he is a prolific author and an attorney who teaches at Georgetown University Law School.
Hehir, a MacArthur Fellow, is dean and professor of the Practice in Religion and Society at Harvard Divinity School and an associate of the Harvard Center for International Affairs. An internationally renowned theologian, he was the principal author for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Economic Justice for All: A Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teachings and the U.S. Economy.” He has published widely on bioethics and social policy.
The program will examine such questions as: What role do the voices of religious faiths, which frequently have been muted on questions of health care, have in shaping public-health policy? How are the health-policy-related views of religious faiths best formulated and conveyed? And how best can those in religious communities help shape health-care policy in a manner true to the teachings of their traditions and to the diversity of American life?