Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

April 4, 2007

Whitworth Lindaman Chair James Waller to Present April 18 Lecture
on the Institutional Christian Response to Genocide

In recent history, religious institutions have been notoriously silent, or even complicit, in the face of genocidal violence, according to Whitworth Professor of Psychology and Edward B. Lindaman Chair James Waller, who will present the 2007 Lindaman Lecture at Whitworth College. During his lecture, Waller will explore how religion, which has wielded such a tremendously civilizing effect on human society, can shape a culture in which genocidal violence may occur and how the church responds to such a culture both during and after genocidal violence.

Waller's lecture, "From Ruin to Renewal: Religious Institutions and Genocide," will take place on Wednesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre, in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth College. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-4738.

Waller's lecture is based on his research and analysis of the institutional Christian response to genocide during the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In his evening presentation, Waller will address the following questions: Why do Christian institutions that should exemplify the human face of God in a suffering world fail to live out Christ's highest ideals? Why do those who should recognize the human face of God in their persecuted brothers and sisters fail to do so? What are the historical and ethical implications of Christian institutions' response to genocide – particularly in respect to fostering future periods of tolerance?

Waller's lecture is the fourth installment of the annual Lindaman Lecture, which is held at Whitworth each spring and features Whitworth's appointed Edward B. Lindaman Chair. The position is an endowed, rotating chair for senior Whitworth faculty who are engaged in significant regional and national academic initiatives and who contribute to public dialogue concerning important social issues. Waller's four-year appointment began in fall 2003.

In March 2007, Oxford University Press released the revised and updated second edition of Waller's book Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing (the first edition was published in 2002), which is used by universities worldwide in courses on Holocaust and genocide studies.

Waller is currently completing a book-length manuscript, tentatively titled Deliver Us from Evil: Genocide and the Christian World, and an essay on social science and the Holocaust to be included in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies. He is also the author of Prejudice Across America (University Press of Mississippi, 2000) and Face to Face: The Changing State of Racism Across America (Perseus Books, 1998).

Waller is the founder of two groundbreaking Whitworth off-campus study programs: Prejudice Across America, which he began in 1996; and Religion, Peace and Conflict in Northern Ireland, which he inaugurated in January 2006.

Waller's upcoming engagements include speaking at the April 24 community commemoration of the Armenian genocide; the commemoration will be held at St. Gregorios Syrian Orthodox Church of India, in Spokane. This summer, Waller will teach at the 2007 Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Later in the summer, he'll travel to Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he will deliver a paper on perpetrators of genocide as part of an invited presentation at the biennial meeting of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Waller will also participate in a pre-conference seminar held on the grounds of the former Auschwitz death camp in Krakow, Poland.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college, which has an enrollment of 2,500 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


James Waller, professor of psychology and Edward B. Lindaman Chair, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4424 or jwaller@whitworth.edu.

Kathy Fechter, program assistant, psychology department, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4739 or kfechter@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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