Austin Interfaith Group Hosts Event on Thursday: ‘Religion and State: Drawing the Line’

The following guest post is by Tom Spencer, CEO of Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT).

“Satan runs across the world with his doubts and with his untruths and what have you, and one of the untruths out there that is driven is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena.” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, September 2012

The question of the proper role of faith in the public arena is obviously one that still ignites passions in 21st century Texas. Sadly, this critical question is rarely the topic of respectful dialogue. Instead, it is used a “wedge” issue intended to stoke resentments and spread fear.

This Thursday, September 27, Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT) will begin the fourth season of our interfaith dialogue program, The Red Bench, with a conversation about “Religion and the State: Drawing the Line.” In this dialogue we will explore the often controversial intersections of private beliefs and the public square in exactly the way it should be explored: through thoughtful small-group conversations involving people of all faiths and none.

Started in 2009, The Red Bench provides the opportunity for individuals to practice “the service of listening and sharing” and to engage one another as citizens, not as antagonists. Following a carefully crafted format and guided by trained “hosts,” our dialogue participants experience what it really means to serve as witnesses to one another.

iACT invites you to bring your life experiences and deepest beliefs to what should prove to be an inspiring, and we hope, thought-provoking conversation. Please reach out to others in your faith community or within your circle of friends and invite them to participate in this program!

Please note that this conversation will take place on a Thursday — not The Red Bench’s usual Tuesday evening. Also, starting with this conversation, the starting time for The Red Bench program will now be 6:30 p.m.

Date: Thursday, September 27
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Location: First Methodist Church Family Life Center, 1300 Lavaca Street, Austin, TX 78701
Details: Free and everyone is welcome. A light vegetarian meal is provided. Please park in the church’s lot on the southeast corner or on the adjoining streets.

Please RSVP on if you are interested in attending.

– Tom Spencer