Professor Wins Novak Award

By Elizabeth Waibel

A Union political science professor has been recognized for his work by being named the winner of this year’s Novak Award.

Dr. Hunter Baker, associate dean of arts and sciences and associate professor of political science, said the award is given to younger scholars who write about religion, politics, economics and culture.

A press release from the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which presents the Novak Award, said Baker “has made a compelling and comprehensive case for the integration of the Christian faith into all areas of life, including economics and business.”

The award comes with a $10,000 prize. Baker will formally present some of his research at the Calihan Lecture, an annual public forum held by the Acton Institute.

Baker said the award is named for Michael Novak, a Catholic theologian who became famous for writing about politics and economics and the possible tie between religion, economics and culture. He said these are some of the same topics about which he himself has been writing.

“I have been trying to win it for years,” he said, laughing. “The majority of people who win the prize are Catholics, so to be an evangelical and win it was a happy thing for me.”

Baker said he was also grateful that Dr. David S. Dockery, university president, nominated him for the award.

“I’m very happy to win it my first year at Union,” he said. “It’s a good thing to come in and win something.”

Nominees are evaluated on their entire body of work, which for Baker includes the Gheens Lectures at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary last fall and a book titled, “The End of Secularism.”

Baker said part of what he covered in the Gheens Lectures is whether there is any relationship between socialism and secularism.

“The emphasis the Christian faith places on the individual — particularly the individual being created in the image of God — this is the basis of many of our rights and freedoms,” he said. “Another factor found in the relationship between Christianity and freedom is the understanding of human beings as sinful. Therefore, if human beings are sinful, it doesn’t make sense to give kings gigantic power — or anybody. It makes sense to limit power.”

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