Liberty and Justice for All IS:
A 7-session lay-led course that requires no addional work from clergy. This adult study helps people to discern the values that shape and determine their faith and political beliefs. Each session is enriched with content from readings, discussions, activities, and video presentations. Between sessions, group members meet one on one to share their personal journeys and expand the discussion. The course affirms that:
- Each person’s life experiences lead to a unique set of beliefs and values;
- The power of listening is an essential quality of communication;
- Each person has a need to hear and to be heard with understanding, with compassion, and without judgment; participants will bring diverse faith traditions and political beliefs to the conversation;
- And that together, they can create a safe environment to consider their own faith and political journeys and learn how to discuss potentially contentious issues openly and with civility.
Liberty and Justice for All is NOT:
- A debate between Republicans and Democrats.
- A debate between religious liberals and conservatives.
- An action community that focuses on solutions to specific problems.
A Curriculum for Adult Study
Liberty and Justice for All has three primary goals:
1. To teach a set of skills designed to raise the level of civility present in conversations about faith and politics.
2. To provide a basic overview of major historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, as well as teachings from the Old and New Testaments.
3. To increase awareness of the importance of people of faith being involved in the political process.
- Each session includes a 30-minute DVD segment to be viewed at home prior to class. Presenters include: Dr. M. Scott Peck, author, psychiatrist, and theologian; The Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Executive Director, Sojourners; Dr. Marcus Borg, historian, author, and Professor of Religion and Culture, Oregon State University; The Rev. Jeb Stuart Magruder, minister, author, and former White House official; The Hon. Judith L. French, Judge, Ohio Court of Appeals; The Hon. Thomas J. Moyer, Chief Justice, Ohio Supreme Court; and The Rev. Dr. Richard A. Wing, Senior Minister, First Community Church, Columbus, Ohio.
- Discussions and activities build small-group learning communities that can help congregations, organizations, and individuals learn how to discuss potentially contentious issues.
- Participant Books help group members identify their own faith and political beliefs and practice speaking and listening with understanding.
- The Facilitator Guide offers suggestions to lead participants through each session. Facilitator training is available on a convenient website.
- My Civility Toolkit, included in both participant and leader resources, offers practical tips to improve communication skills and build community.
Unique Online Facilitator Training
If the topic of this study interests you but the thought of finding facilitators seems challenging, relax! Faith and American Politics provides online, interactive facilitator training. This step-by-step, self-paced training helps lay leaders make this course easy for themselves and for participants. Access to the facilitator training site comes free with your purchase of Liberty and Justice for All and helps facilitators to feel equipped for their role.
Through extensive testing of these resources, course designers have noticed that the optimal group size is between 12 and 15, including two facilitators. Having a dozen participants assures a diversity of opinion and also makes it possible for each participant to have a voice in discussions.
Co-facilitation is recommended for the best possible group experience. Facilitators should complete the online training prior to the Overview session; then review prior to each session.
Facilitator Guide includes one DVD.