The Wake Forest University School of Divinity has welcomed former Obama Administration official Melissa Rogers back to its faculty.
Her hiring was announced Jan. 30 on the Divinity School web site.
Rogers rejoins the institution as a visiting professor and practitioner-in-residence for the Spring 2019 semester. She previously directed the Divinity School’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs from 2003 to 2013.
She went on to serve as special assistant to President Barack Obama and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Rogers’ White House experience has deepened her interchange of government and communities of faith, which she will use to serve students.
The divinity school also announced that Rogers has written a book, scheduled for publication in 2019, to serve as a legal guide and a warning about threats to religious freedom and pluralism in the U.S.
Rogers said she’s eager to share her experience in the classroom.
“The intersection of religion and government is a busy one these days, and it is so important for students to understand what law and theology have to say about these issues,” she said in the divinity school announcement.
A former attorney for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Rogers is teaching a course titled “Religion in American Public Life: Legal and Theological Perspectives.”
Bill Leonard, professor emeritus at the School of Divinity, said Rogers’ return is a win for the institution and for students. He noted that Rogers and the late James Dunn, a long-time director of the BJC, taught religion and public courses together nearly from the founding of the divinity school.
“Her work with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Obama Administration, along with her outstanding legal experience, makes her an ideal guide for students interested in church-state issues,” he said in the divinity school announcement.
BWA protests arrest of Venezuelan Baptist
The Baptist World Alliance announced today it is mobilizing efforts to gain the release of a Baptist leader in Venezuela.
Gregory José Pérez, BWA said, was arrested Jan. 23, apparently on the erroneous suspicion that he was connected to local protests. Another 30 people were arrested along with him, including children ages 12 to 14.
Pérez is the executive director of the National Baptist Youth Union of Venezuela, which is a ministry of the National Baptist Convention in that country.
He was arrested when nearby protests prompted police to order the evacuation of a communications center where he had been working. There is “no evidence” he was connected to the unrest, BWA added.
“Brother Pérez has dedicated his life to serving others, most especially the children and youth of Venezuela,” BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown said in a news release.
“Yet since his arrest, Brother Pérez has been held in detention, publicly humiliated, charged with a lengthy set of allegations, and treated as a terrorist.”
Pérez and has family have suffered as a result, Brown added.
“This constitutes an excessive and disproportionate restriction on his right to freedom.”