Baptist president, Pulitzer winner, Reagan speechwriter to speak at BYU in coming months

Published: Saturday, Oct. 19 2013 6:25 p.m. MDT

Brigham Young University campus

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PROVO, Utah — This year's lineup of BYU forum and devotional speakers is headlined by conservative columnists George Will and Peggy Noonan and the president of the flagship seminary for educating Southern Baptist ministers.

Will is scheduled to speak Tuesday at BYU's October forum assembly, three weeks after ending a 32-year run as a mainstay on the ABC Sunday morning news show "This Week." He left ABC to join Fox News, where he already is a frequent contributor.

Will, 72, won the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. His Washington Post column is syndicated in more than 400 newspapers. His BYU speech is titled "The Political Argument Today." He originally was to speak at BYU last year before a scheduling conflict arose. Now he arrives on campus a week after the government shutdown ended and the debt crisis was averted.

"When we scheduled George Will, we didn't realize it would come at such a crucial moment in time," said Jeff Keith, BYU's associate academic vice president. "I think he'll have some interesting things to say about his version of what happened in Washington last week."

Noonan will speak Nov. 19. Also a best-selling author, Noonan was a speechwriter for President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush and coined the terms "a thousand points of light" and "a kinder, gentler nation." She is now a popular Wall Street Journal columnist.

Noonan's weekly columns in the Wall Street Journal are regularly the most popular items on the Journal's website. She is the author of five best-selling books, including "What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era." The speech she wrote for Reagan after the Challenger explosion is one of the top 10 presidential addresses in history, according to one list.

Albert Mohler Jr., called by Time.com the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.,” is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. On Monday, he will give a lecture at BYU on religious liberty, marriage and family. He will return to BYU in February to deliver that month's forum address.

BYU forums and devotionals are held on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. in the Marriott Center during the fall and winter semesters. Devotionals by LDS Church leaders and BYU faculty are interspersed with monthly forums that feature illustrious speakers from a variety of fields.

Past forum speakers include Chief Justice John Roberts (2007), historian David McCullough (2005), astronaut James Lovell (2010) and filmmaker Ken Burns (2007). Some are Republicans, like Condoleezza Rice (2011). Others are Democrats, like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (2007), or independents, like Sen. Joseph Lieberman (2011). Still others have been faith leaders, like Cardinal Francis George (2010).

Cardinal George was one of several speakers BYU has invited to campus to talk about religious freedom. The latest is Mohler, who 20 years ago became president of the Southern Seminary at age 33 and led a difficult movement to reform the Louisville, Ky., campus. The school provides associate, bachelor, master and doctoral programs in disciplines like divinity, theology, ministry and missionary work.

Mohler will speak at BYU's Feb. 25 forum, but he is in Utah now. He will meet with BYU Religious Education faculty on Monday and deliver a lecture titled, "A Clear and Present Danger: Religious Liberty, Marriage and Family in the Late Modern Age" at noon in the Wilkinson Students Center's Varsity Theater.

Monday's lecture is the third in BYU's Faith, Family and Society series, following last month's first two lectures by Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, and George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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