Bridging Divides In Post-Election Season Will Be Challenging for Churches, Baptist News Global Panelists Say

Byron Williams (Photo/Norman Jameson/BNG)
Byron Williams (Photo/Norman Jameson/BNG)

While sociologists slice the population into thinner and thinner samples for examination, columnist and radio host Byron Williams says the most neglected — and dangerous — segment is “the Bob Dylan demographic.”

Quoting a famous Bob Dylan song, Byron said, “When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.”

When that “growing demographic, that cuts across race, gender, orientation and zip code” feels they have nothing to lose, then neither the civility of discourse, nor “the values this country was founded” will matter to them, he said.

Williams was participating in a panel discussion about how churches can bridge the post-election season, and try to heal the rifts some congregations are feeling in a sharply divided electorate.

Katy Harriger, chair of the politics and international studies department at Wake Forest University, said she “actually despairs at where our civic discourse is. It matters how we talk to each other. “

Panelists joined 60 others during a Baptist News Global dinner held at Knollwood Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Williams, who also writes for the Huffington Post, said “dissent is the oxygen of democracy,” and “we’re in a pretty bad place” if we demonize those who hold a position different from our own.

Americans who “want change with comfort” are demonizing those who publicly protest, but Williams said, “Dissent is the oxygen of democracy.”

“There’s a difference between loving the country and being naïve about the country,” he said. “Loving the country may mean dissent. We want change with comfort. Change only comes with discomfort.”

“Dissent is the oxygen of our democracy,” Williams said. “Without it we will choke on the fumes of our own megalomania. Change always starts as the minority opinion.”

Harriger and Williams encouraged deliberation, and finding a place and time where “instant reaction” to the news is not necessary.

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SOURCE: Baptist News Global
Norman Jameson