Randall Balmer

The March on Washington: Promise and Reality

In an opinion piece published by the Valley News, Professor Randall Balmer says the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington celebrates “the high-water mark of the civil rights movement” while pointing out how much remains to be done to banish discrimination and achieve racial equality.

Balmer, chair of the Department of Religion and the Mandel Family Professor in the Arts & Sciences, says that 50 years later, racial equality remains elusive.

“The March on Washington was a transcendent moment in American history, a day marked by celebration and determination and soaring rhetoric. Fifty years later, however, we still have a long way to go to redeem Martin Luther King’s dream,” he writes.

A subscription is needed to read the full opinion piece, published 8/25/13 by the Valley News.

Professor Calls Pope’s Comments on Gays ‘Significant’

Pope Francis drew huge crowds during his recent visit to Brazil, and then made headlines for saying he had no right to judge homosexuals, a remark he made during an 80-minute press conference aboard the flight back to Rome.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said, using the English word “gay” though speaking primarily in Italian. Photos taken on the papal airplane showed the pontiff looking relaxed as he added, “the tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem.  . . . They’re our brothers.”

While Vatican experts pointed out that Francis’ comments did not advocate acting on homosexual tendencies, and were not a departure from the church’s official views, Chair of the Department of Religion Randall Balmer says the pontiff’s remarks are noteworthy.

Papal Conclave Takes New Route to the Ancient Ways

Editor’s note: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was picked Wednesday, March 13, 2013, as the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. The first non-European pope in 1,200 years, he will be called Pope Francis.

In the days before the Conclave entered the Sistine Chapel to choose a new pope to succeed Benedict XVI, the first pope to resign his office in nearly 600 years, Dartmouth’s Randall Balmer, the Mandel Family Professor of Arts and Sciences and chair of the Department of Religion, and Christopher MacEvitt, an associate professor of religion, talked with Dartmouth Now about the process of picking the new pope.

With Cardinals entering the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope, the spectacle of the conclave merges a centuries-old script with spur-of-the-moment improv, but the likelihood of a radical reformer emerging from the gathering is very slim, observers say.

Faculty Forum: Randall Balmer

Faculty members share their insights on current events with Dartmouth Now in a question-and-answer series called Faculty Forum. This week, Randall Balmer talks about the role of religion in the presidential race.

A prize-winning historian and Emmy Award nominee, Professor Randall Balmer chairs the Department of Religion. He taught at Columbia University for 27 years and was a visiting professor at Dartmouth before joining the faculty full-time on July 1, 2012. Balmer has published widely in both scholarly journals and the popular press, and has written more than a dozen books.