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Professor Emeritus and Author Benjamin Hubbard Discusses His New Book, 'A Battlefield of Values'

Ben Hubbard

Benjamin Hubbard, professor emeritus of comparative religion, authored "A Battlefield of Values."

KUCI radio personality Claudia Shambaugh, host of "Ask a Leader," spent an hour on Jan. 19 with guest Benjamin Hubbard, professor emeritus of comparative religion at Cal State Fullerton.

Hubbard discussed his new book, “A Battlefield of Values: America’s Left, Right, and Endangered Center,” a collaborative effort with his colleague Stephen Burgard, whom Hubbard survived while completing the project. Just published by Praeger Press, "it is a tome that is a very good fit for these times," says Shambaugh.

Hubbard says the book is for “interested open-minded people who are worried about the state of our country, the state of the government, and wonder if there aren’t some better ways for us to approach it, and along with that, of course, it’s meant to be a possible textbook.”

The book’s first chapter, "The Religion Factor," begins:

This is a book about the problem of polarization in America and about ways to understand and narrow the great divide between liberals and conservatives and between traditional people of faith and their liberal (and sometimes non-religious) counterparts. We hope that understanding the complicated relationship between religion and politics in Chapter 1 will provide an entrée into the problem.

The chapter continues:

Co-author Ben Hubbard opens his college course Religion and Politics in the United States by calling these two vital and emotional areas of life “the undiscussables.” They are such touchy subjects that bringing them up for example, around the dinner table at a Thanksgiving family gathering, is risky. Yet, they need to be discussed.

America’s great political divide has made it more and more difficult to discuss religion as it relates to politics, whether in a small group, a town hall, a state legislature, or the U.S. Congress without the conversation ending in rancor.

So we start with a basic principle: Whether or not you are a believer, religion will have an impact on your world. This was true when French journalist Alexis de Tocqueville toured our new nation in the 1830s, and it still is. He expressed it this way: “Upon my arrival in the United States it was the religious aspect of the country that first struck my eye. As I prolonged my stay, I perceived the great political consequences that flowed from these new facts.”

The debates over abortion, contraceptive coverage in Obamacare, climate change, teaching evolution in public schools, school prayer, and gay rights all intersect with the faith factor. We will analyze these topics in detail at various points in this study to help find common ground in a divided nation.

Listen to the interview.

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