Skip to main content
Center for Faith and Vocation group photo
Center for Faith and Vocation

Religion Seminar Series, 2019–2020

Butler University Center for Faith and Vocation Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs  presents

Religion and Incarceration

Four Public Seminars: September 24, October 29, January 28, and March 3

Each seminar meets at 7:00 PM at the Shelton Auditorium located at Butler South Campus, corner of 42nd and Haughey Avenue.

For parking on Butler University’s campus, patrons should park in the Sunset Avenue Parking Garage. Fees can be found at

The Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs is a program of the Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University, promoting understanding of interfaith and intercultural relations through the discussion of religious issues in global perspectives.

We wish to thank our sponsors...

  • The NEH/Frederic M. Ayres Fund
  • Muslim Studies Fund
  • The Butler Peace Lab well as the support of the Philosophy, Religion, and Classics Department.

Incarceration, Christianity, and Black Bodies

Tuesday, September 24, 7:00 PM

Shelton Auditorium

Why are black Americans disproportionately incarcerated in America? In this session, we explore the historical, social, cultural, and religious roots of this injustice through the lens of black theology and with reference to the resources of the black church.

Keynote Speaker

Very Reverend Dr. Kelly Brown DouglasThe Very Reverend Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas is Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School and Professor of Theology at Union Theological Seminary; she also serves as Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral. Author of Stand your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, she researches womanist theology, sexuality, and the black church.


Dr. Terri JettDr. Terri Jett is Associate Professor of Political Science; affiliate faculty in both the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Program and the Peace and Conflict Studies Program; and Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusivity at Butler University. Her research interests include post-Civil Rights-era economic development and inclusive pedagogical practices.

Dr. James LoganDr. James Logan holds the National Endowment for the Humanities Endowed Chair in Interdisciplinary Studies at Earlham College. He teaches in the Religion Department and directs the Program in African and African American Studies. He is the author of Good Punishment? Christian Moral Practice and US Imprisonment.

The Most Merciful: Muslim Work with Ex-Offenders

Tuesday, October 29, 7:00 PM

Shelton Auditorium

Many of America’s prisoners have embraced Islam while incarcerated, and Muslims have also been active in caring for the social and religious needs of ex-offenders. In this session, we explore what Islam has to say and what Muslims are doing about incarceration in America.

Keynote Speakers

Born on the South Side of Chicago, and trained in sociology at Langston University, Shamar Hemphill is an expert in civic engagement, community organizing, and youth development. In 2008, he began working for the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), and now serves as one of the organization’s Associate Directors.

Dr. Harriet LewisDr. Harriet Lewis is Senior Director at IMAN, where she provides oversight to community/economic development initiatives. Having served previously as Executive Director of organizations serving women, small business owners, survivors of domestic violence, and youth, she has been recognized for her work by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts House of Representatives.





Note: Speaker change

Michael Nasir Blackwell has been an advocate for change as long as he can remember.  Having served 24 ½ years in prison, Nasir studied jurisprudence the entire time of his incarceration, and became a staunch advocate while incarcerated.  Nasir advocacy work within Illinois Department of Corrections focused around literacy, policy, and was co-founder of Danville Prison Veterans’ organization DANVETS, where Nasir served as commander for two years prior to his release in March of 2015. Nasir also served on the ACT (Awareness, Change, & Triumph) committee, where the committee was integral with increasing the graduation rate within Danville prison. Since his release, Nasir began working with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network as a Resident Coordinator, and is now a full-time organizer.


Kareem BilalOriginally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kareem Bilal became a Muslim in 1975 and associates with various mosques in Indianapolis, particularly NurAllah. For more than a decade, he has used his experiences in life and faith to help promote personal and spiritual transformation among incarcerated men at various Indiana prisons.

Judge David Shaheed, JDJudge David Shaheed, JD, retired from the Marion County Superior Court in Indianapolis in 2014. Named Advocate of the Year by the Indiana Minority Health Coalition in 2006, he has presided over Civil Court 1 and, before that, Criminal Court 14 (the Drug Treatment Diversion Court and Reentry Court).  

Dharma in Hell: Buddhist Mindfulness in Prisons

Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 7:00 PM

Shelton Auditorium

From the office to the hospital room, the benefits of mindfulness have been scientifically proven. In this session, we learn about various efforts to improve the lives of inmates through the practice of meditation.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Fleet Maull, CMT-PDr. Fleet Maull, CMT-P, is an author, certified mindfulness teacher, social activist, and peacemaker who founded the Prison Mindfulness Institute and the National Prison Hospice Association while serving a 14-year sentence for drug smuggling. A senior meditation and Dharma teacher, he is the author of Dharma In Hell and Radical Responsibility.


David CulpDavid Culp is a Dharma Teacher at the Indianapolis Zen Center, which is part of the Kwan Um School of Zen, a Korea-based lineage of Buddhism. He has been practicing for approximately 18 years. For the past three years, he has been leading a Buddhist group at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.

Ven. Lobzang Dorje (a.k.a. Dr. Leon E. Pettiway)Ven. Lobzang Dorje (a.k.a. Dr. Leon E. Pettiway) is an ordained monk in the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Author of Honey, Honey, Miss Thang: Being Black, Gay, and on the Streets and Workin' It: Women Living through Drugs and Crime, he is Professor Emeritus in Criminal Justice at Indiana University.

Incarceration, Nationalism, and Religious Identity in China

Tuesday, March 3, 2020, 7:00 PM

Shelton Auditorium

The Chinese government has a troubled relationship with the nation’s religious minorities. In this session, we hear from experts on the persecution and mass incarceration of China’s Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims.


Dr. Elise AndersonWith doctorates in both Ethnomusicology and Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University, Dr. Elise Anderson conducts research on Uyghur music, exploring ways in which the Chinese state and ethnic minority elites have drawn expressive forms into political projects. She is a vocalist, musician, translator, and dancer who integrates scholarship, performance, and advocacy.

Dr. Timothy GroseDr. Timothy Grose is Assistant Professor of China Studies at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Author of Negotiating Inseparability, his research on Uyghur ethno-national identities has been published in the China Journal, Journal of Contemporary China, and Foreign Policy, and featured in the Economist, The Atlantic, and CNN.

Dr. Fenggang YangDr. Fenggang Yang is Professor of Sociology and the founding Director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University. Author or editor of more than a dozen books, his work on religion in China is also regularly featured in national and international news media outlets.

Previous Years' Brochures

For many years Butler University has sponsored the Butler Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs. In 2003, the Lilly Endowment Inc. funded the creation of the Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University which now sponsors the Butler Seminar. Below is a selection of past seminars in the form of the original brochures that were created for each event.

World Christianity in the New Century, 1999–2000

Religion and Law at Home and Abroad, 2003–2004

Religion and Science, 2004–2005

Religion and Media, 2005–2006

Religion and the Corporation, 2006–2007

Secularism and Religion in Global Perspective, 2007–2008

Darwin, Religion and Society, 2008–2009

Jerusalem: Traditions, Realities and Prospects, 2009–2010

Religion, Peacemaking and Conflict, 2010–2011

Global Christianity in the 21st Century, 2011–2012

Religion and Global Health, 2012–2013

Freedom of Expression and Religion, 2013–2014

Religion and Reconciliation in Global Perspective, 2014–2015

Religion, Race and Culture, 2015–2016

Religion and Trans Lives in a Global Perspective, 2016–2017 (View the recorded series sessions)

Religion, Refugees, and Migration, 2017–2018 (View the recorded series sessions)

Sacred Places: Intersections of Religion and Ecology, 2018–2019 (View the recorded series sessions)

For more information, please go to


The Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs is a program of the Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University, promoting understanding of interfaith and intercultural relations through the discussion of religious issues in global perspectives.

After each event, video will be available on this website.

View videos from the current year's presentations.

View videos of the previous year's presentations.