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We all know that religion is the source of much conflict and division in our world, but does it also contribute to the common good? On balance, is religion an asset or a liability? What is the data on faith-based programs, especially related to crime and in prison rehabilitation? Joining the God Squad for this month's discussion is renowned criminologist (and FSU grad) Byron Johnson, president of the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion and a senior fellow at Princeton University's Witherspoon Institute. The forum will look at Johnson's work on the role of religion in promoting the common good generally and in crime rates, prisons and recidivism specifically.
From www.moregodlesscrime.com: "There is mounting evidence that increasing religiosity not only reduces crime and delinquency, but it also promotes prosocial behavior. In spite of these findings, experts rarely include the "faith factor" in discussions of possible solutions to crime, drug use, offender treatment, or ex-prisoners returning to society. This failing can be attributed in equal measure to the secular criminal justice professionals who allow their own anti-religious prejudices to shape their judgements, as well as to the religious volunteers who rely so heavily on their own beliefs that they see no need to validate their work with actual research. These shortcomings have cost the American public untold damages in both wealth and safety. In More God, Less Crime renowned criminologist Byron R. Johnson proves that religion can be a powerful antidote to crime. The book describes how faith communities, congregations, and faith-based organizations are essential in forming partnerships necessary to provide the human and spiritual capital to effectively address crime, offender rehabilitation, and the substantial aftercare problems facing former prisoners."
Meet the "God Squad" - the brains behind "Faith, Food, Friday." They're running with the contrarian notion that maybe we should be talking about the challenging issues that surround faith in America after all? With faith (or lack thereof) used too often as a political tool, the public square could probably stand a change of pace. Whoever you are, whatever your beliefs, bring an open mind, an open heart (and an appetite) for what we hope will be a continuing conversation that defies the biases we seem to have against each other. Every program will include a changing cast of characters to spark the discussion, from leaders in the faith community to scientists, to secularists, to - who knows - maybe you. We hope you'll join us as we explore what happens when we cross each others' thresholds and break a little bread together.
With special guest Byron Johnson, author of "More God, Less Crime"
Friday, March 2
(audio may take a moment to begin)
Food service begins at 11:30 am
Program begins promptly at noon
We are no longer taking reservations for the program, but as of 9:20 there is still room, even for those who are interested in eating. Please come to First Baptist Church and we'll do our best to make room for you!
First Baptist Church downtown, 108 W. College Avenue (enter from either the Adams Street or Duval Street Welcome Center entrance)
This event is free and open to the public; there is no charge to attend. A hot lunch is available (menu below) for $8 if you RSVP by the Tuesday prior to the event, $10 after Tuesday and at the door. All meals are paid for at the door, cash or check.
Lasagna (choose either meat or veggie sauce)
Mini Salad Bar
Directions: Enter First Baptist Church (108 W. College Avenue) from either main Adams Street or main Duval Street entrance. Go downstairs and you will see the check-in table in front of the Fellowship Hall. If you're early, you might need to ask to be buzzed in.
Parking Directions: Parking available on-site off of Duval Street (opposite Ron Sachs Communications). You may also park in metered spaces on Park Avenue or Adams or at Kleman Plaza.
Acts of Faith (Acts of Faith covers religion and spirituality news wherever it exists, from politics to parenting, from sex to sports. Look for news, analysis and opinion to keep you up on daily conversations about faith, spirituality, ethics and values. Reporters Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Michelle Boorstein edit and contribute to Acts of Faith.)