Recorded conversations help faithful differ with civility

Mon, 2019-07-22

DALLAS—Two people of faith—but not necessarily the same faith—who hold drastically different political opinions talked for 40 minutes in a Dallas Baptist University recording studio. In the process, they discovered more common ground than they expected.

And it didn’t just occur once. It happened multiple times.

“We’ve heard things like: ‘I thought I would be with somebody really different from me. We are so much more alike than we are different.’ People see the connections more than they see the differences,” said Chelsea Aguilera, outreach specialist for the One Small Step project of StoryCorps.

‘Listening is an act of love’
Since 2003, StoryCorps has facilitated and collected interviews involving about 500,000 people throughout the United States. Digital files of all the interviews are archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Excerpts from a tiny percentage of the recorded interviews are aired during “Morning Edition” on National Public Radio.

“It helps us remember we all have a story. We have something to share,” Aguilera said. “Listening is an act of love.”

Last year, StoryCorps launched its One Small Step initiative to facilitate civil dialogue by bringing together people who disagree politically for facilitated conversations.

Recently, One Small Step piloted an effort in North Texas focused specifically on the intersection of faith and politics. Aguilera worked with Theo Brown, director of outreach to faith-based organizations at the National Institute for Civil Discourse. Together, they enlisted people of faith in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who view political issues differently to record facilitated conversations with each oth