The Future of American Democracy: The Challenge of Polarization

October 13 at 4:30–6:00 p.m.

Meta FOAD Polarization

This is the kickoff panel presentation is a series of three panel presentations/lectures (two more to be scheduled for Spring 2023) that will examine the most important conversations around the topic of democracy that are affecting people’s lives right now.

“The Challenge of Polarization: How do we sustain government, of and by an ever-more divided people?”

The first conversation — on the challenge of hyper-polarization — will be focused on how this phenomena affects Christian communities and on the big question of how polarization is affecting our ability to sustain government of-and-by the people, as well as how it’s affecting the course of everyday life.

In a moment defined by cascading crises, many across the nation and world are wondering aloud about the future of American democracy. In the months ahead Princeton Theological Seminary will confront this uncertainty head-on, convening a series of timely conversations with leaders poised to shape that future.

Where Americans once saw neighbors, they now see enemies. Increasingly, Republicans and Democrats alike see members of the other party as not just wrong on key issues, but — according to the Pew Research Center — as immoral, dishonest, closed-minded, and a threat to the nation’s well-being. The reverberations of extreme polarization are felt far from the realm of formal politics, in schools and churches and local communities where some seem ready to give up entirely on the age-old art of persuasion. How did we get so divided? And where do we go from here?

FOAD Photo Strip

On October 13, 2022, Dr. Heath W. Carter, associate professor of American Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary, will ask these questions and more, moderating a conversation with three eminent young leaders whose professional lives have been shaped in various ways by the sharp edges of our polarized society:

  • 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

Complete bios on all panelists are available here.

The program series is funded by the Board of Trustees’ “New Faculty Initiatives” grant, a major goal of which is to create new pathways to public engagement.


Join us in person at Princeton Theological Seminary's Wright Library or virtually via a YouTube livestream (link provided 24 hours prior to event). There is no cost to attend this event, but registration is required.

If you can't make the event but would like to receive information about upcoming conversations and resources in the Future of American Democracy series, please sign up here.

Register Now

Health Guidelines

All guests are expected to adhere to the Seminary’s current health and wellness guidelines, including being fully vaccinated and boosted, if eligible. Our health and wellness protocols regarding COVID-19 change based on the guidance of our local health departments officials and numbers of cases in our region. As a result, protocols are fluid and requirements regarding the use of face coverings, distance, and testing may change. For the latest guidelines, click here.

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Chaplain at the Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Khristi Adams, Class of 2008

“At Princeton, we had precept groups—we’d engage text and debate. That gave me confidence to have those conversations anywhere.”