St. Louis Public Radio News
9:21 am
Thu December 17, 2009

New Washington University Center on Religion & Politics named for Sen. Danforth

St. Louis – Washington University in St. Louis will soon be home to a new institute on religion and politics.

It's being named for former U.S. Senator John Danforth; his family's foundation gave $30 million dollars to start the center.

At Wednesday's dedication, Danforth, who's also an Episcopal priest, acknowledged the importance of separating government from religion, but he said that does not mean religion should be absent from public policy debates.

"It's been clear from the very outset that while there is to be separation of church and state, religious people and people who see things in a religious light are involved in public affairs," Danforth said.

Danforth, a Republican, said the center will be "ideologically neutral" and will attempt to foster unbiased scholarship that encourages conversation between conflicting points of view.

The new center will include five new faculty members, and organize conferences that will involve experts from around the country.