Randall Balmer

"Dartmouth is truly a special place"

At a recent celebration of Dartmouth's 250th anniversary celebration and Call to Lead campaign, Lacey Jones '16 and Religion Professor Randall Balmer discussed their collaboration on Prof. Balmer's television documentary exploring the relationship between the Orthodox Church and Alaska Natives. Lacey Jones was the lead researcher for the documentary, which is in production. "The experience introduced me to the importance of archival research. It taught me how to write in a different genre, because writin a documentary is so different from writing academic discourse," said Jones. "I've just begun my Ph.D. at Yale, and I'm seeing firthand how exceptional it is for dartmouth students to have the kind of opportunities that would only go to grad students at any other school. I'm thinking especially of how grateful I am for faculty like Professor Blmer and Professor Andew McCnn in the English Department, who - not to be over-dramatic - made it possible for me to think and to live.

Randall Balmer on the religious right's concern about family values

Randall Balmer observed, in Elizabeth Dias' 6-20-18 New York Times article, "Evangelical Leaders Lament Border Separations, but Stand Behind Trump," that "The persistence of evangelical support for Trump, both his personal behavior and now his immigrations policies, finally lays to rest the illusion that the religious right was ever concerned about 'family values.'" (Read, too, Professor Balmer's opinion piece on the subject in the 6-24-18 Valley News, "Jeff Sessions and the Ruse of Selective Liberalism." Login may be required.)

Randall Balmer on evangelical Christianity's close ties to conservative politics

In an article on the Roy Moore scandal in the Salt Lake City, Utah, Deseret News, Religion Department chair Randall Balmer observes that "Evangelical Christianity's close ties to conservative politics are driving people away from the flock. People are looking for other labels to identify themselves with because they find the term 'evangelical' so fraught and associated with things they don't embrace."

Randall Balmer on Politics and the Pulpit

In an opinion piece in the Sunday, October 30, Valley News, Professor Randall Balmer observes that "leaders of the Religious Right in recent years...have been pushing for a repeal of the Johnson Amendment [a provision in the tax code that prohibits tax-exempt organizations from openly supporting political candidates, passed by Congress in 1954 and named for Lyndon Johnson, then a U.S. senator]." The Religious Right argues that "pastors should be able to make political endorsements from the pulpit without jeopardinzing their churches' tax exemptions [and]the fact that they cannot now do so...represents an infringement on their religious freedom." Balmer argues, however, that "the Johnson Amendment is a good idea and should not be repealed.

The Paradoxes of Ted Cruz

By almost any reckoning, argues Prof. Randall Balmer in his April 19, 2016, article in Religion & Politics, Ted Cruz's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination presents voters with several paradoxes. But the paradox that most intrigues Prof. Balmer is Cruz's ties to evangelicalism: "Of all the paradoxes that surround Ted Cruz, [his] flouting of the teachings of Jesus may be his defining paradox. The man who, more than any other candidate this year, has staked his claim to evangelical piety nevertheless ignores the teachings of the man [Jesus] he claims to emulate."

Gender Gap: Why Are Women More Religious?

Religion professors Zahra Ayubi and Randall Balmer were guests on New Hampshire Public Radio's "Exchange" program commenting on a new study by the Pew Memorial Trust that finds that while Americans overall tend to be more religious compared to people in other developed countries, the commitment is especially high among U.S. women, whether it's attending worship services or engaging in daily prayer.

Grassley, Ayotte and the Burden of History

By vowing to block any Supreme Court nominee the president sends to Congress, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and fellow Republicans are reinforcing the partisan gridlock that has paralyzed the nation for more than a decade, argues Randall Balmer in his Sunday, March 20, opinion piece in the Valley News, "Grassley, Ayotte and the Burden of History."  Instead, he urges Senator Ayotte to "fulfill her duties regardless of the political rancor she might incur from fellow Republicans. Even such a modest effort in these fraught political times counts as an act of courage." "Like Chuck Grassley [chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee], Kelly Ayotte's rendezvous with history has arrived. She can be remembered as simply another political hack, like Mitch McConnell or Harry Reid, or she can be remembered as a leader, one who faced down the rabid partisans in Congress and said 'Enough! I intend to lead, not stumble blindly along the pathway of political obstruction in the name of party loyalty.'"

Evangelicals' Support of Trump Shouldn't Come as a Surprise

In an op-ed column in today's Los Angeles Times, Professor Randall Balmer observes that over the past several decades, evangelicals have become increasingly secular, more interested in the pursuit of wealth and political influence than fidelity to the teachings of Jesus, and that "it should come as little surprise that the candidate of choice for evangelicals so far in this 2016 election season is a twice-divorced, thrice-married billionaire famous for firing people on TV, who belittles the disabled and advocates policies - on immigration, for example, or the environment - utterly at odds with the 'biblical values' evangelicals purport to uphold."

"Dear Marco Rubio..."

"Dear Marco Rubio: Welcome to New Hampshire," writes Randall Balmer in his January 10, 2016, Valley News opinion piece. "It's come to my attention that you've been assailing the liberal arts on the campaign trail....Today, the liberal arts encompass, as Merriam-Webster defines it, 'areas of study (such as history, language, and literature) that are intended to give you general knowledge rather than to develop specific skills needed for a profession,'" he continues. "I'm sure you'll find a few voters here who will cheer your excoriations of the liberal arts; anti-intellectualism, after all, has a long and storied history in the United States. But you'll find others - many, many more, I hope - who believe that critical thinking is not such a bad thing, that it might even be crucial to the future of a democratic society."

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