Pitts Presentation to Follow Afternoon Symposium at Rice University on Religion in the 2012 Elections

January 10, 2012

Even as Americans grapple with the nation’s most difficult economic challenges in decades, religion and social issues continue to play a major role in shaping the battle for the Republican presidential nomination this year. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts will speak about the busy intersection of religion and politics in America at a special event January 25 in Houston.

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, a public policy research organization based in Austin, is sponsoring Pitts’ evening speech at Congregation Emanu El in Houston. Earlier that afternoon, the TFN Education Fund is joining with the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and the Rice University Religion and Public Life Program to co-sponsor “Religion in the 2012 Elections,” a public symposium the Baker Institute. Pitts will also speak in one of the symposium’s panel discussions.

One of the most emotionally engaging columnists writing today, Pitts is beloved by readers for the thoughtful way he treats complicated issues involving religion, race, culture and politics. His nationally syndicated column appears in the Houston Chronicle and other newspapers around the country. Pitts was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is also author of a critically acclaimed novel, Before I Forget, in 2009. His book on black fatherhood in America, Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood, was published in 2006. Freeman, Pitts’ new novel about a runaway slave who returns to the South to find his wife just after the Civil War, is due out from Agate Publishing in May.

Pitts will speak at 7 p.m. at Congregation Emanu El. Tickets are $20 and are available at www.tfn.org. He will also join some of the country’s most respected experts on politics and public opinion at the “Religion in the 2012 Elections” symposium from 1 to 4:30 p.m. on the Rice University campus. The Rice symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required (tfn.org.symposium).

The afternoon symposium will focus on how religion has become such a dominant force in American politics, particularly in the 2012 elections. Panel discussions will cover topics such as religion and immigration, science, “old” culture war issues like abortion and gay rights and the “new” culture war battle over Islam in America. Featured speakers will include John Green, a senior research adviser at the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life; D. Michael Lindsay, author and president of Gordon College; Anna Greenberg of the national public opinion research firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and scholars from the James A. Baker III Institute and Rice University.

The full symposium schedule and speaker bios are available at tfn.org/symposium.


The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund is an Austin-based public policy research and civic education organization that focuses on issues involving religious freedom, individual liberties and public education.