The Institute for Religion, Politics & Culture will formally begin its work in January 2021, led by former Executive Director of The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Rev. Amanda Henderson.

In response to conversations with advocacy partners, media, legislators, faith leaders, and funders, a repeated refrain is a desire for more in-depth research and education on religious frames to drive policy and culture change. The Institute will build integrated frameworks for political and social change movements through academic research and analysis, generating media content, offering training & workshops, and activating culture change.

[Read the Christian Post’s interview with Rev. Henderson on the Institute.]

Too often, in American politics and culture, we continue to be stuck in frameworks of hyper-individualism and hierarchical binary social structures. We can see this in the ways we talk about and build policy around issues such as economic reform, criminal justice reform, and expanding reproductive rights. These frameworks are products of deeply embedded religious assumptions and language, even in so-called “secular” languages. Alternative frameworks that allow for change and human flourishing are also available in our religious roots. We need new ways to understand the history and religious language that shapes views on essential issues such as abortion rights, health equity, racial equity, criminal justice reform, homelessness, economic inequality, and LGBTQ rights.

The Institute will invite and support experts (faculty) in particular areas (religion, theology, ethics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, history, etc.) to contribute to scholarship on key political issues with the goal of informing political and cultural foundations for social change. The Institute will engage people in spaces of public leadership (elected officials, foundations, advocacy organizations, political strategists) to connect and bridge thought leadership in the public sphere.

In 2021 we will:

• Conduct a deep analysis nationwide of work happening in this space

• Build an advisory team to guide the work

• Create and distribute a podcast, Complexified, interviewing leaders navigating the complex questions and realities at the intersection of religion, politics, culture

• Host a workshop series for advocacy partners and legislators on key political issues such as:

– Criminal justice reform

– Reproductive rights

– Economic inequality

The Institute is made possible through generous seed funding from The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and the First Plymouth Foundation.