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Communication professor to examine church-state boundary

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Three days after terrorists attacked the United States by flying planes into buildings on Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush declared a nationwide day of "prayer and remembrance." There was a televised National Prayer Service held that day in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Did this media and communication event have anything to tell us about the separation of church and state?

This is one of the questions that Christine Crouse-Dick, assistant director of communication arts at Bethel College, raises in a project analyzing the National Prayer Service of Friday, Sept. 14, 2001. She will share her findings in the next Bethel College Faculty Seminar.

Crouse-Dick will speak on "Prayer and Remembrance (September 14, 2001): A Rhetorical Analysis of a National Prayer Service" on Monday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Administration Building chapel on the Bethel College campus. This event is free and open to the public.

President Bush "encouraged people to visit their places of worship" on Sept. 14, 2001, Crouse-Dick says, "to pray for the victims and the victims’ families. Bush spoke at this. Billy Graham spoke. A children’s choir sang. A variety of religious leaders--a rabbi, an imam and others--read Scripture and prayed. Denyce Graves sang. Lots of bigwigs attended, in addition to former presidents--Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford.

"My paper focuses on the rhetorical choices that brought together a sense of cohesion between church and state. That, then, leads to questions, more than answers about what should or should not have happened."

Crouse-Dick has a B.A. in communication and biblical/religious studies from Tabor College and an M.A. in communication studies from Wichita State University.

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