The Rev. James Lawson spoke at Belmont University in conjunction with the sociology department’s Living Sociology Speaker Series. Lawson was expelled from Vanderbilt University in 1960 for training black and white students how to organize sit-ins and engage in other forms of social action to end segregation.
Lawson came to Nashville at the request of Martin Luther King, Jr., who called him “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.” Lawson’s passion for justice and nonviolence for all subjected him to imprisonment and threats of violence. Lawson, a retired ministor of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, is currently teaching for one year as a visiting professor and fellow at Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Religion and Culture.
Dr. Rodney Stark, professor of social sciences at Baylor University, comes to Belmont University Monday, March 24, to present a talk exploring the evangelistic tactic of door-to-door missionizing, and why it persists despite seemingly long odds of success. Stark, a sociologist of religion who teaches in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Baylor, has authored 26 books including The Rise of Christianity, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1996. Stark’s talk, titled “Knock, Knock: The Benefits of ‘Irrational’ Missionizing,” addresses why some religious groups persist in door-to-door missionizing when they know the odds of success are small.