Theologian to discuss racism, antisemitism and human dignity

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October 13, 2020

Beverly E. Mitchell

Beverly E. Mitchell

Ted Gordon

Beverly E. Mitchell, professor of historical theology at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., will be interviewed about different forms of exclusion in American society and how a more inclusive society can be fostered and sustained during a one-hour webinar at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Ted Gordon, visiting professor in the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Department of Sociology, will conduct the interview and moderate an open question-and-answer session for the webinar, titled “Challenging Racism, Antisemitism and Other Assaults on Human Dignity.”

This event, sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at Saint John’s University and its partner Jay Phillips Center at the University of Saint Thomas, is free and open to the public. The link to join this webinar will be posted on the center’s website within a week before the event.

“It is a critical moment in the history of our country as we reckon with the threat of white supremacy becoming more mainstream,” Mitchell said. In the webinar, she will focus on this threat, including how, as an “overarching ideology,” white supremacy is being used not only against Black people but also against Jews, Muslims and other minorities in the United States.

Mitchell was invited because “for many years she has been critically examining the dehumanizing effects of white supremacy on people of color and other minorities and she has been cogently defending the common humanity of all people,” according to John Merkle, director of the Jay Phillips Center and professor in the CSB/SJU Department of Theology,

Merkle said that Gordon is “an ideal person to conduct the interview because in his research and teaching over the past several years, Ted has been focusing on exclusionary attitudes and practices and, in particular, he has been passionate about promoting greater inclusion in our college community.”

Among the issues to be discussed are “how different faith traditions emphasize the human dignity of all people and how interfaith and intercultural solidarity and action are crucial in the stand against racism and other forms of exclusion,” Merkle said.

Mitchell earned her Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston College-Andover Newton Theological School. She is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters as well as two books, “Black Abolitionism: The Quest for Human Dignity” (Orbis Books, 2005) and “Plantations and Death Camps: Religion, Ideology, and Human Dignity” (Fortress Press, 2009).

Gordon earned his Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology at the University of California, Riverside. He directs the Transforming CSB/SJU for Native and Indigenous Inclusion Project, which is a part of the Becoming Community Initiative funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and is the author of “Cahuilla Nation Activism and the Tribal Casino Movement” (University of Nevada Press, 2018).