Faith and Politics

Poverty, Power, and Privilege

Alumni Memorial Common Room (152 Langford)

February 16, 2015

The 7th annual AEHS Study Day, “Faith and Politics: Poverty, Power, and Privilege,” will be led by Luke Bretherton, associate professor of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School and senior fellow at Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics. The event is open to both clergy and laity. 

Topics to be covered include:

  • A scriptural and theological framework for negotiating life in our “secular” age
  • Rethinking the “preferential option for the poor” and gaining greater understanding of the inter-relationship between poverty and privilege
  • Reflecting on faithful, hopeful, and loving practices of social, political, and economic engagement in the contemporary context

Bretherton writes, “I will address issues that, in my experience, have direct bearing on how we engage politically as Christians and as democratic citizens. These questions are provoked for me from many years of being involved in community organizing and grassroots democratic initiatives in London while at the same time working with and teaching those involved in running faith-based organizations, some of which operated locally whereas others worked internationally. An often unacknowledged set of tensions and questions plague these kinds of engagements. The questions include the following:

  • “Should we be more concerned about the politics of Israel-Palestine or the drug pushers on our doorstep?
  • “Is the priority campaigning for structural change—however distant a prospect that might be—or helping people here and now in desperate need?
  • “How should we talk about public concern for suffering and impoverished others, and what form should that concern take?
  • “Is it more important to be faithful or to be effective? And what is more faithful: prophetic and radical actions that prefigure the change we want to see happen, or undertaking the slow boring work of reform within the constraints of the current system?

"I cannot hope to address all these questions in the study day but I do hope to suggest some ways for how we might think through them in a theologically constructive way.”

Bretherton’s primary teaching interests are theological ethics, Christian political thought, and community organizing. Before joining the Duke faculty, he was reader in theology and politics and convener of the Faith & Public Policy Forum at King's College London. His latest book, Christianity & Contemporary Politics: The Possibilities and Conditions of Faithful Witness (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), won the 2013 Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing.  He also writes for various media outlets including The Guardian, The Times, and The Huffington Post.   

Learn more about Professor Bretherton »

Registration fee: $65
AEHS alumni: $40
Parking $6

Registration includes lunch and all study materials.

The online registration deadline is Feb. 9, 2015.

To register after the deadline, please contact Sonja Tilley at (919) 660-3539 or

Clergy of the diocese of North Carolina may apply to the School of Ministry for a scholarship. To register you will still need to pay the full amount, a portion of which may be reimbursed in cases of need. Contact Shelley Kappauf at the School of Ministry at (336) 273-5770.

8:30 a.m. Registration and Refreshments
9:00 a.m. Morning Prayer
9:30 a.m. Morning Session
11:45 a.m. Noon Prayer and Lunch
1:00 p.m. Afternoon Session
3:30 p.m. Blessing and Dismissal

The Duke discounted rate of 25% off the Best Flexible Rate is available at the Millennium Hotel in Durham, N.C.

To make a reservation, call (800) 633-5379 or (919) 383-8575; be sure to request the Duke Divinity rate. Reservations call also be made online.

Please e-mail Sonja Tilley, AEHS staff specialist, or call (919) 660-3539.