Brian K. Pennington, Professor of Religious Studies
Numen Lumen Pavilion 205
2960 Campus Box
Elon, NC 27244
In his newest play, comic performance artist, Peterson Toscano, explores the bizarre, quirky, and at times disturbing world of the Bible. Drawing on his skills as a character actor, unconventional Bible scholarship, and his own personal experience of trying to go straight for Jesus, Peterson presents a ridiculously serious look at scripture. Through the show he asks and answers the essential question, "How did I get trapped in a biblically induced coma?" His warm, hilarious, and insightful take on Bible stories will help you see how he ultimately woke up.
Peterson Toscano is a theatrical performance activist using comedy and storytelling to address social justice concerns. He spent 17 years and over $30,000 on three continents attempting (and failing) to change his same-sex orientation. In 2007 he co-founded www.beyondexgay.com, which provides support for ex-gay survivors. Peterson is frequently featured in the media and has appeared in the New York Times, NPR Morning Edition, The Times of London, The Tyra Banks Show, and five documentary films including Logo TV's "Be Real" program. He helped produce and appears in the new documentary film, "This is What Love in Action Looks Like." He has been published in The New Statesmen and in various LGBTQ anthologies including the Lambda Literary Award winner, "Gender Outlaws--The Next Generation" (edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman) Peterson lives in Sunbury, PA with his husband, Glen Retief. He is a frequent tweeter www.twitter.com/p2son His web site is www.petersontoscano.com
Co-sponsored with Spectrum, the LGBTQIA Office, Women's and Gender Studies, Elon's Multicultural Center, and the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.
According to a 2012 report by the Pew Research Center, U.S. voters are growing increasingly divided over the role of religious rhetoric and prayer in politics. 38% of voters, the highest number in the past decade, said that politicians prayed and talked about religion too much, while 30% said that politicians did not talk enough about religion. While voters disagree whether religion should be part of candidates’ stump speeches and rallies, the candidates’ religious affiliations continue to be discussed and assessed, as various interest groups use the affiliations of the candidates (or supposed affiliations) as grounds for supporting or combatting their campaigns. Moreover, religious affiliation and religiosity (e.g. regular attendance at religious services) continue to be significant indicators in voter decision-making. Join the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society for a public lecture and discussion on the role of religion in voter decision-making.
Dr. Robert P. Jones is the founder and CEO of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a non-profit and non-partisan research and education organization dedicated to examining the intersection of religion, politics, public life, and values. PRRI’s provides research for publications as varied as the Washington Post and the Huffington Post. With a background in the study of religion and sociology, Dr. Jones is often tapped by news organizations (C-Span, Chris Matthew's Hardball, etc.) to comment on the role of religion in politics and political decision-making. For example, he has recently appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Chris Matthew’s “Hardball,” and on C-SPAN.
Dr. Jason Husser's research focuses upon partisan polarization in relation to religious behavior and political behavior in campaigns and elections. With his work at the Elon Poll, Dr. Husser will be able to offer a unique perspective on the intersection between religion and politics in North Carolina.
A public conversation featuring: Dr. Kelly J. Baker, Lecturer in Religious Studies, University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Author of Gospel according to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America 1915-1930; Dr. Jason C. Bivins, Professor of Religion and American Culture, NC State; Author of Religion of Fear: The Politics of Horror in Conservative Evangelicalism; Dr. Tom Mould, Professor of Sociology/ Anthropology, Elon University; Author of Still, the Small Voice: Narrative, Personal Revelation, and the Mormon Folk Tradition; Dr. Jeffrey Pugh, Maud Sharpe Powell Professor of Religious Studies, Elon University; Author of Devil’s Ink: Blog from the Basement Office.
This event is made possible by a grant from the Elon Fund for Excellence in Arts and Sciences.
An ordained Presbyterian minister, Ellison has published widely on the topics of sexuality and the sacred, same-sex marriage and heterosexism. He is currently co-chair of Maine’s Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, a member of the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and on the advisory board for the Religious Institute on Sexuality, Morality, Justice and Healing.