Contemporary Jewish Heresy: Israel, Palestine, and the fate of American Judaism

A talk from Dr. Benjamin Sax about contemporary Jewish Heresy 

Monday, October 8, 2018 at 7:00 pm in the McBride Gathering Space, Numen Lumen Pavillion

Dr. Benjamin Sax of the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies will explore the phenomenon of heresy in modern Jewish thought. He will focus on two questions: Is there a concept of heresy in contemporary American Judaism and, if so, how does the reality of the state of Israel change a Jewish view of heresy? Does the Jewish-American community value multiple points of view, or does it segregate itself based on how members view the state of Israel, Zionism, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? This talk will explore how the role of Israel has changed in contemporary American Jewish life, while also exploring the language used in support of Israel’s policies and in opposition to them. More importantly, it will examine whether Jewish Americans can criticize the state of Israel in its current political form or its policies, or even question the intentions of Zionism, without being deemed “heretical.”

“Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” Screening in Turner Theatre

An enticing and raw documentary about Pope Francis’s vision for the future of religion.

Thursday, October 25 2018 at 7:00 pm in Turner Theatre, Schar Hall

Widely discussed for his many initiatives for reforming the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is the subject of a new documentary titled, “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” which takes audiences into never-seen-before aspects of the Pope’s life in the Vatican. Pope Francis gave unprecedented access to world renowned director, Wim Wenders, and to different actors in the Vatican. The Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society and Catholic Campus Ministry will screen the film Thursday, Oct. 25 at 7pm in Turner Theatre.

In the documentary Wenders underscores three distinguishing features of this papacy: Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first pope to hail from the Americas (specifically Argentina), and the first pope to adopt the name of St. Francis of Assisi. Wenders was able to speak with Francis in candid settings, and the pope speaks his mind frankly, giving audiences direct access to the leader whose words and decisions have stirred controversy and admiration in the Catholic Church.

The documentary covers other aspects of the current papacy, such as Pope Francis’s emphasis on his three T’s: trabajo (work), tierra (earth), and techo (roof), each of which he believes is fundamental to the rights of all people. The pope has also become a vocal advocate for the earth, reflected in his encyclical on the environment called “On Case for Our Common Home.” This was the first encyclical about the environment ever written by a pope.

A Public Conversation about “Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice” by Rebecca Todd Peters

An open panel with Ann Cahill, Loretta Ross, and Toddie Peters about her new book about abortion. 

Monday, October 29 2018 at 5:30 pm in LaRose Theater, KOBC

In her recent book, Elon Christian ethicist Rebecca Todd Peters argues that “the problem that we face in this country is our failure to trust women to act as rational, capable, responsible moral agents” when it comes to their decisions about pregnancy and abortion. Publishers’ Weekly has called the book “theologically astute and social justice–minded,” saying “Peters’s book is dense with the history of women’s rights, as well as analysis of patriarchal oppression and the ways the church, legislators, and businesses have tried to control and govern women’s bodies.”

This conversation about Peters’s work and the issues it raises features leading feminist theorists from Elon and beyond. It is co-sponsored with Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies and Religious Studies.


  • Ann Cahill, Department of Philosophy
  • Loretta Ross, author of Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundations, Theory, Practices and Critique
  • Toddie Peters, Department of Religious Studies
  • Buffie Longmire-Avital, Department of Psychology, Moderator

Can We Talk About Christian Terrorism?

Monday, November 12 2019 at 5:30 pm in the McBride Gathering Space, Numen Lumen Pavilion

The spate of violence in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections in the US shows many of the characteristics of terrorism. The attacks targeted specific populations—Jews, African-Americans, and the leaders of the opposition political party—and the acts were all committed by white men who appeared to identify as Christian. Can we call these acts and others like them “Christian Terrorism?” Is there even such a thing as Christian Terrorism? What are its features, historical roots, or objectives? Elon faculty and Truitt Center staff members with expertise on these issues will engage in an informal panel discussion on Christian Terrorism with plenty of time for audience questions and discussion.


  • Damion Blake (Political Science)
  • Joel Harter (Truitt Center)
  • Lynn Huber (Religious Studies)
  • Megan Squire (Computer Science)

“Searching for the Soul in the Doll’s Body” Keynote Address for “Religious Body Reimagined” Symposium

The keynote address for the “Religious Body Reimagined” symposium will be given by S. Brent Plate and sponsored by the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society. 

Thursday, February 7 2019 at 5:30 pm in Yeager Recital Hall.

The machines are coming for us, threatening to take over our jobs, ideas, creative works and even our most intimate relations. But a look at a history of dolls–from automatons to action figures to robots–provides a historical and religious backdrop for thinking through our cyborgian futures by showing us how we have always merged the human body with our technology. This keynote address for the “The Religious Body Imagined” symposium highlights how dolls are vital technological tools that find their way into our rituals, personal devotional lives, workplaces and social spaces.

S. Brent Plate is a writer, public speaker, editor and part-time college professor whose books include “A History of Religion in 5 1/2 Objects” and “Blasphemy: Art that Offends.” His essays have been published in Newsweek, Slate, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Christian Century, The Islamic Monthly, Huffington Post and elsewhere.

Holocaust Survivor Hank Brodt Speaks About Remembrance

Brodt, a native of Poland who now lives in High Point, N.C., shared his story of tragedy and strength through one of the darkest periods in history.

Wednesday, February 13 2019 at 5:30 pm in LaRose Theatre, KOBC.

Born in 1925 in the town of Boryslaw in Poland, Brodt was a prisoner in five Nazi concentration camps including Plashov, Matthausen and Ebensee. He and his fa

mily were forced into a ghetto and separated before being sent to camps. He would never see them again. In the camps, the work was neverending, Brodt said. Prisoners faced brutal conditions, and they were given little to nothing to help them survive.

“It wasn’t easy but at least we had a place to stay and a bed — not a good bed, but you stayed there,” Brodt said. “Around lunchtime they brought you hot water. It was supposed to be soup, but you were glad that you just got the hot water.”

After being freed, Brodt met an American soldier who gave him a job as a kitchen worker in a U.S. Army camp. The soldier gave him his address and told him he would “sponsor” him to come to the United States, but Brodt was unsure whether he would ever see him again because “talk is cheap,” he said. But that soldier stayed true to his word, and eventually helped Brodt immigrate to the United States in 1949.

Arabic Calligraphy in the Chinese Style

Renowned master of Arabic Calligraphy joined us for a demonstration and exhibition of his calligraphy.

Thursday, March 7 2019 at 5:30 pm in Numen Lumen Pavilion

Haji Noor Deen is a renowned master of Arabic Calligraphy whose work has been collected an displayed in galleries and museums around the world. Deen has lectured and led workshops in some of the most renowned and prestigious institutions namely Harvard University, Cambridge University, University of California-Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Bukhari Institute.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness with Austin Channing Brown

Austin Channing Brown presented from her recent book exploring intersections of racial justice, faith and black womanhood.

Tuesday, March 12 2019 at 6:00 pm in McBride Gathering Space, Numen Lumen Pavilion

Austin Channing Brown presented from her new book on black dignity and whiteness. Austin is a leading new voice on racial justice, who is committed to exploring the intersections of racial justice, faith and black womanhood. Her presentations are one of a kind infused with justice, pop culture, humor and truth-telling. Austin invites people of all races to learn about whiteness and to celebrate blackness with her. Austin has worked with nonprofits, churches and universities for the advancement of racial justice and reconciliation.

Robert Orsi as Inaugural Smith-Chase Lecturer

Orsi, the Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies at Northwestern University, spoke about clerical sexual abuse

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 5:30 pm in LaRose Theatre, KOBC

Robert Orsi, Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies at Northwestern University, visited Elon April 3 and delivered a lecture titled “Violence, Memory, and Religion Among Survivors of Clerical Sexual Abuse,” drawing from his forthcoming book about the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

Orsi’s talk was the inaugural event for the new annual Smith-Chase lectur, sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies. Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Lori and Eric Sklut Scholar in Jewish Studies Geoffrey Claussen, who chairs the department, opened the event and explained that the lecture honors the legacies of H. Shelton Smith, a 1917 graduate of Elon College and the founding director of graduate studies in religion at Duke University, and Carole Chase, professor emerita of religious studies at Elon, who started the endowment fund for the lecture.

Multifaith Scholars Senior Presentations

Wednesday, April 17 at 5:30 pm, Isabella Cannon Room

The inaugural class of Elon Multifaith Scholars – Kristina Meyer, Styrling Rohr and Sophie Zinn – presented their two-year undergraduate research projects. An exhibition of Styrling Rohr’s photographs drawn from her ethnographic research at the Sikh Gurudwara of North Carolina were displayed in the space and she also screened a short film featuring this community.

Kristina Meyer ‘19, is a religious studies and mathematics double major from Richmond, V.A. Kristina’s project studied faith-based organizing by the labor rights organization, Interfaith Worker Justice.

Sophie Zinn ‘19, is an international studies and political science double major from Indianapolis, I.N. Sophie has studied Danish secularism and the experience of Muslim migrants and long-term residents in Denmark.

Styrling Rohr ‘19, is a religious studies and anthropology double major from Cincinnati, O.H. Styrling spent more than two years with the Sikh community in Durham to understand keertan, Sikh devotional music.

School of Communications Professors to Discuss Recent Books on Religion and Media

Dr. Anthony Hatcher and Dr. Amanda Sturgill joined by TV Reporter Meredith Stutz ‘16.

Thursday, April 25, at 4:15 pm in McEwen 013

On Thursday, April 25 the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society will host a conversation featuring Drs. Amanda Sturgill and Anthony Hatcher about their recently published books on religion and media. The conversation will be moderated by Elon Alumna, Meredith Stutz ‘16, who is currently a reporter at WXII TV in Winston-Salem.