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Reflections on "Attracting Conservatives" Workshop

During the conference, Tim Erickson posted the following reflections on his Politalk blog at http://politalk.org/archives/138. It’s a nice summary of some of the main points made in a great workshop that was offered at the conference, so I thought I’d post it here as well.

Conservatives and Dialogue

One of the themes that has come up at every dialogue and deliberation conference that I’ve attended, is the challenges that we face as a community of attracting conservative viewpoints to our conferences and oftentimes to our dialogues.
Yesterday, I attended a workshop called “Attracting Conservative Citizens to Dialogue Events: Liberal-Conservative Campus Dialogue & Mormon-Evangelical Interfaith Initiatives.” The workshop was lead by Jacob Hess (Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Illinois) and Rev. Greg Johnson (Pastor and Director of Standing Together).

The Rev. Greg Johnson gave a very personal and inspirational account of his personal relationship with a Mormon professor, Robert Millet. This video captures much of his story.

Jacob Hess talked about his experiences facilitating a class that brings together a specially selected group of students with both liberal and conservative viewpoints, for a series of discussions about “hot” political topics.  He provided a very interesting outline of three “fears” that conservatives bring to the table.

  1. Doesn’t Dialogue assume that all truth is relative? (Fear of having to give up the truth).
  2. Is dialogue part of a larger effort to convince me of something? (Fear of hidden agenda)
  3. Does dialogue mean I’m going to have to compromise my beliefs? (Fear of being changed)

He suggests, that facilitators or organizers wishing to engage conservatives in their dialogue or deliberation events, need to carefully frame and organize their events, taking these fears in mind.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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