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Princeton Seminary to host series on the future of American democracy

In a time defined by cascading crises, many people across the nation and the world are wondering aloud about the future of American democracy. In the months ahead, Princeton Theological Seminary will discuss threats to democracy in a series of conversations with leaders poised to shape the future.

The kickoff conversation on the challenge of hyper-polarization and how this phenomenon affects Christian communities, the ability to sustain government of-and-by the people, and the course of everyday life, will take place on Thursday, Oct. 13, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the atrium of the Wright Library at 1 Library Place in Princeton. The free event will also be live-streamed. Registration is required. You can register online via Eventbrite.

The panelists, moderated by Dr. Heath W. Carter, associate professor of American Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary, include three young leaders:

  • Jane Coaston, columnist for The New York Times and host of The Argument
  • Peter Meijer, Republican congressman representing Michigan’s 3rd district since 2021
  • Symone D. Sanders-Townsend, former chief spokesperson for the vice president of the United States

Coaston’s writing has been featured in publications ranging from the National Review to ESPN Magazine, and she is an ABC News contributor. She was the senior politics reporter at Vox, with a focus on conservatism and the Republican party. Her work also has appeared on MSNBC, CNN and NPR, The Washington Post, and The Ringer, among others. In addition, she is a former resident fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. She attended the University of Michigan.

Meijer was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2020, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the Committee on Homeland Security as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Management, and Accountability. He also serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Meijer is also a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group working to find common ground on many of the country’s key issues.

Symone rose to prominence in 2016 as the national press secretary for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s then-presidential campaign. At 25, she became the youngest presidential press secretary on record and was named to Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 16 young Americans shaping the 2016 election. At 29, she published her first book, “No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America” and served as a senior advisor for President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. At 31, Symone was appointed as a senior member of the Biden-Harris administration serving as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris. Symone is a former political commentator for CNN and a resident fellow of both Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School and the University of Southern California’s Center for the Political Future.

The multi-part series will examine current conversations around the topic of democracy and its effect on people’s lives today. The series is funded by the Princeton Theological Seminary Board of Trustees’ “New Faculty Initiatives” grant, a major goal of which is to create new pathways for public engagement.