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LR launches With Malice Toward None initiative in lead up to 2020 presidential election
LR launches With Malice Toward None initiative in lead up to 2020 presidential election

Lenoir-Rhyne University announces the launch of a new initiative With Malice Toward None. The program is part of the university's commitment to support conversations that model civil discourse connected to the 2020 presidential election. A series of virtual events also will be offered for students, churches and the community.

"This presidential election provides an opportunity for university leaders, church leaders and community leaders to reflect on how we wish to move forward and how we regard those who may vote differently from us," said University President Dr. Fred Whitt. "While Lenoir-Rhyne serves as the host for this initiative, all members of our community are encouraged to form group discussions in their churches and organizations to gain a better understanding of our neighbor and to respect different political beliefs."

As part of the initiative, Dr. Whitt and First Lady Donna Whitt will relate their personal experience and passion for the With Malice Toward None campaign in a two-minute video with the full story extended to the website at lr.edu/wmtn.

Additionally, With Malice Toward None conversations and programs are being supported in the residence halls at the Hickory campus with additional discussions offered for graduate students at the Asheville, North Carolina, campus and the Columbia, South Carolina, campus. These programs help students, particularly first-year students, engage in thought on their political beliefs and provide an opportunity to hear from their peers on beliefs that may be different from theirs.

LR students, faculty and staff will be invited to sign the With Malice Toward None campaign pledge:

"Regardless of how the election turns out, I will not hold hate, disdain or ridicule for those who voted differently from me. Whether I am pleased or upset about the outcome, I will seek to understand the concerns and aspirations of those who voted differently and will look for opportunities to work with people with whom I disagree."

As part of a semester-long effort, LR will offer the following community virtual webinars and conversations:

University to engage students through voter registration events

As part of an effort to engage students in the election process, Lenoir-Rhyne kicked-off a voter registration event Tuesday, Sept. 22, to celebrate National Voter Registration Day, a massive cross-country effort to register voters well in advance of Election Day this November. A team of student organizations will be the driving force behind the event. Additional registration events for students will be offered through Friday, Oct. 9, which is the voter registration deadline for the 2020 general election.

Author Jim Wallis to speak on faith and politics

A globally respected writer, teacher, preacher and justice advocate, Jim Wallis will discuss, "Civic Leadership in a Politically Fractured World" during a Lenoir-Rhyne virtual lecture at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6. Registration is required for the online presentation at lr.edu/wmtn.

As part of his discussion, Wallis will recommend ways that students, staff, faculty, churches and the community can prepare for respectful, earnest conversations regarding the 2020 presidential election, which promises to be one of the most divisive in American history. LR students will have an opportunity for small group conversation on various dates following the event.

A New York Times bestselling author, Wallis is the founder and president of Sojourners and the author of 12 books, including "Christ in Crisis," "America's Original Sin," "God's Politics," and "The Call to Conversion." He served on former President Barack Obama's White House advisory council on faith-based and neighborhood partnerships and has taught faith and public life courses at Harvard University and Georgetown University. Known as Coach Jim by some, Wallis also served for 22 seasons as a Little League coach for his two baseball playing sons. Learn more about the author at sojo.net.

Emma Sellers leads webinar on diversity and inclusion at LR

Since the establishment of the Office of Multicultural Affairs in 2012, the LR student body has become more diverse, reflecting trends seen across the United States. This provides a unique opportunity for the university to focus on providing an inclusive environment for all students and discuss some of today's topics related to social justice.

Emma Sellers, director of multicultural affairs at LR, will lead a virtual webinar at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 14. This webinar is free and open to the public; however, registration is requested at lr.edu/wmtn.

In her 14th year at Lenoir-Rhyne, Sellers' presentation will center on the ways LR is working to meet the needs of a more diverse population. The webinar also will highlight initiatives and programs that are in place to ensure an inclusive campus community. Participants will learn about ways they can support these efforts and there will be time reserved for questions. In her role, Sellers works with all divisions within the university at all three campuses to reach diversity and equity goals.

Speaker forum promotes conversation among different political views

In an effort to consider the diverse views of the political parties, LR will host a virtual forum that encourages conversation from a Democrat, Republican and independent voter. In a conversational format, speakers will discuss topics on social justice, religious issues and more. Once the presenters are confirmed, additional information, including registration, will be available at lr.edu/wmtn.

Day after election prayer scheduled

To encourage unity and prayer after election night, LR will conclude the semester-long initiative with a virtual prayer at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4. The prayer, led by Christy Lohr Sapp, interim campus pastor, will be specifically for newly elected and re-elected officials.