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Yale law professor's lecture ties religion to professions, recent election

Jan. 26, 2001


Staff writer

In the first lecture of the two-part, Emmy Parrish Lectures in American studies series, Stephen L. Carter, a Yale professor of Law, spoke Wednesday in the Cashion Academic Center.

Carter's speech, The Role of Civility and Religion in Vocations, packed a room of curious students, faculty, staff and others from the community.

'I think whether you agree or disagree, he asks the hard questions and talks about the things we need to be thinking about,' said Dr. Donald Greco, director of American studies.

Carter, a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and was on the National Commission of Judicial Discipline and Removal, appointed by President George H.W. Bush.

Carter is the author of seven books, his newest being: God's Name in Vain: How Religion Should and Should Not be Involved in Politics.

In one of his books he writes, 'All of us should have something we care so deeply about, we are willing to suffer for it.'

Carter said living a deeply religious life may require sacrifices.

'There would be moments when the understood norms of our professions will be in some tension with our faith,' Carter said.

His speech was directed at the last presidential campaign in which both candidates spoke of their religious faiths. Carter said the candidates professed to be people of great faith, but said despite their convictions, their jobs came first.

'What do you do when you sense a conflict between what your role requires and what your religion requires?'

Carter said we should not allow politicians to hide behind the requirements of their position.

'Politicians should admit there is a struggle but explain to us how they deal with it,' he said.

Carter spoke of the importance of engaging in democratic conversation, even in a culture so eager to conform.

'The source to be able to stand up and be different is from religion,' Carter said.

Carter said employers now stress 'getting along,' even if it means setting aside your faith.

'It is crucial in a nation that values religious freedom to minimize conflict between our vocation and the faith we profess,' he said.

Perla Gamez, a Laredo junior, said it is important to try to understand why people believe what they do.

'People at Baylor sometimes preach to one another rather than speak, which can cause a divide between people of conflicting religions,' Gamez said.