Public Panel Discussion

In August 2022—just over two decades since the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston sex abuse scandal—a group of academics, journalists, and faith leaders visited campus. They convened a workshop reshaping the public conversation about religion. Their meeting focused on religion’s roles in preserving memories of past violence as well as memories of healing and rebuilding after the worst happens.

How should academics, faith leaders, and journalists remind the public of decades-old traumatic events involving religion? Are we ready to begin revising these stories in light of more recent events—for instance, the United States’ pullout from Afghanistan, new abuse reports on Christian denominations, the fallout around mass shootings, or the repeal of Roe v. Wade? How might recalling past disasters spur us to act on behalf of today’s victims and prevent future violence? And, while redressing wrongs, how can we avoid losing sight of the abundant good that flows into the world through religion?

Faith seems ever more present in the national conversation, but are there better ways to talk about it? Why is it that some stories are never forgotten and others never aired? In this discussion, several of our workshop participants shared with us what they discerned as we continue to commemorate our losses and repair our mistakes.

Watch the Conversation


Nichole Flores

Dr. Nichole M. Flores
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
University of Virginia



Bilal Malik

Imam Bilal Malik
Islamic Center of Northeast Florida
Jacksonville, Florida



Brendan Mcallister2

Brendan McAllister
Former Director of Mediation, Northern Ireland
Former Victims Commissioner for Northern Ireland



Bob Smietana

Bob Smietana 
National Religion Writer
Religion News Service