Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

May 24, 2002

Whitworth to Host Lectures on Lessons from the Holocaust and How the Bible Was Used to Justify Slavery in America

An estimated 60 million men, women and children were victims of genocide in the 20th century; the dawn of the 21st century promises little relief in the onslaught of destructive acts humans perpetrate against each other in times of social conflict, collective violence, and war. Two widely recognized scholars in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies will present public lectures at Whitworth College exploring the universal lessons to be learned from the devastating effects of hatred and prejudice.

Victoria Barnett will present a lecture, "Bystanders During the Holocaust: Lessons for Us Today," on Thursday, June 6, at 7 p.m., and Stephen Haynes will present a lecture, "Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery," on Thursday, June 20, at 7 p.m. Both lectures will take place in the Music Building Recital Hall at Whitworth College, and both are free and open to the public. For more information about the lectures, please call (509) 777-4424.

In her lecture, Barnett will scrutinize the behavior of "bystanders" - those who saw the Nazi atrocities and did nothing, but then claimed they bore no responsibility - during the Holocaust. Drawing from a wide variety of sources, she will examine the historical and ethical implications of bystander behavior on three levels - individual, institutional, and international - then will suggest lessons for contemporary audiences.

Haynes contends that Americans have long relied on the Bible to help them organize their social world, and his lecture will examine the wellspring of the American South's religious rationale for slavery. Tracing the continuum between racism and the Southern ruling class' exaggerated sense of honor, between the curse of Noah and the Confederate flags that still wave over some buildings in the Southern states, Haynes will make the case that the Bible is one of the foundational texts of American slavery.

The public lectures are part of a Lilly Summer Seminar, "Deliver Us from Evil: Genocide and the Christian World," hosted by Whitworth College. The June 3-26 seminar will bring academics from church-related colleges and universities nationwide to the Whitworth campus, where they will critically examine the role of Christian churches and individuals in 20th-century genocide, and will explore the subsequent consequences for Christian thought and practice in the contemporary world

The seminar and lectures are co-sponsored by Whitworth's Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith and Learning and by the Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and the Arts, a network of more than 60 church-related colleges and universities that provides a national forum for exploring issues of common concern.

Victoria Barnett is an independent scholar, translator, and author. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary, in New York, she lived in Germany from 1979 to 1992, where she collected more than 60 oral histories from former members of the Confessing Church, which was a 1930s revival movement within German Protestant churches that resisted Hitler's attempt to make the churches an instrument of Nazi propaganda and politics. Barnett's research was published in her book, For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler (Oxford University Press, 1992).

Barnett has published more than 70 articles and book chapters, and is the author of Bystanders: Conscience and Complicity During the Holocaust (Greenwood Press, 1999); editor and translator of And the Witnesses Were Silent: The Confessing Church and the Jews by Wolfgang Gerlach (University of Nebraska Press, 2000); and editor and translator of the newly revised English edition of Eberhard Bethge's Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Fortress Press, 2000).

Barnett has taught and lectured extensively on the history of the church in Germany during the Holocaust and has served since 1994 as a consultant to the Committee on Church Relations at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She is currently completing a doctorate on religion and conflict at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, at George Mason University.

Stephen Haynes is an associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College, in Memphis, Tenn. He was educated at Vanderbilt University, Florida State University, Columbia Theological Seminary, and Emory University, where he earned a Ph. D. in religion and literature.

Haynes is the author of numerous books, including Prospects for Post-Holocaust Theology (Scholars Press, 1991); Reluctant Witnesses: Jews and the Christian Imagination (Macmillan, 1995); Holocaust Education and the Church-Related College: Restoring Ruptured Traditions (Greenwood, 1997); and Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (Oxford University Press, 2002).

Haynes serves on the regional advisory board for Facing History and Ourselves; the Tennessee Holocaust Commission; and the Committee on Church Relations at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Jim Waller, director of the Lilly Summer Seminar and professor of psychology, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4424 or jwaller@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, Public Information Specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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