Rachael Denhollander Named Calvin University's 2021 Kuyper Prize Recipient

Rachael Denhollander. Photo by Shanna Simpson Photography

(RNS) — Activist and abuse survivor Rachael Denhollander will be awarded the 2021 Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life, Calvin University announced Tuesday (Dec. 7). Denhollander will receive the prize, which includes a $10,000 award, and deliver a lecture at a Dec. 15 event hosted by Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The annual Kuyper Prize, named after Dutch theologian and politician Abraham Kuyper, was founded in 1996 to honor a leader who has made outstanding contributions in his or her "chosen sphere" of society, reflecting "the Neo-Calvinist vision of religious engagement in matters of social, political, and cultural significance," according to a press release from Calvin University.

Denhollander is a lawyer and former gymnast and the first woman to publicly accuse USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault in 2016.

"We so often confine theology to the four walls of church and home. We don't look at how theology shapes issues we face every day," said Denhollander in a press release. "To marry Kuyper's work to what's taking place in the public square right now on many levels is incredibly challenging, but Calvin has long had a history of making place and priority for these conversations. It's a place with a rich understanding of faith and application of theology. So, to be part of that tradition in some small way is deeply humbling."

Denhollander is author of the 2019 book "What Is a Girl Worth?" and recipient of numerous awards, including Sports Illustrated's Inspiration of the Year award in 2018. She is also a vocal opponent of sexual abuse in the church, most notably in the Southern Baptist Convention and other evangelical circles. Last month, she made headlines for supporting Liberty University students who reported sexual abuse.

"At Calvin, we equip students to act justly, it's one of the central components of our mission statement, and we do this work so that students learn how to represent Christ as agents of renewal in the world," said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin University, in a press release. "Rachael has and continues to model what living this out looks like by boldly engaging challenging conversations in the public square, seeking justice, and empowering others to do the same."

The Kuyper Prize is funded by a grant from the late Rimmer and Ruth de Vries. Previous recipients include civil rights leader John Perkins in 2019 and conservative political commentator David Brooks in 2020.  

#Interfaith is a self-paced, online learning opportunity designed to equip a new generation of leaders with the awareness and skills to promote interfaith cooperation online. The curriculum is free to Interfaith America readers; please use the scholarship code #Interfaith100. #Interfaith is presented by IFYC in collaboration with ReligionAndPublicLife.org.


more from IFYC

Many content creators use their platforms to build community beyond their brick-and-mortar congregations, to dispel myths, break stereotypes and invite people from diverse faiths to get a glimpse into their lives.
IFYC's innovative online learning experience, #Interfaith: Engaging Religious Diversity Online, offers lessons on how to approach others online in a way that leads to building bridges.
Lessons from Thich Nhat Hanh, the person who nominated Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize and encouraged King to speak out against the war in Vietnam.
What Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and activist Thich Nhat Hanh taught me about the power of mindful breathing through art.
A scholar of democratic virtues explains why Dominican monk Thomas Aquinas’ thoughts on hope are relevant today.
From covering spirituality in Silicon Valley to writing an online newsletter about her own journey to Judaism, reporter Nellie Bowles keeps finding innovative ways to reflect on religion and technology.
Six ways religious and spiritual leaders can help the internet serve their communities right now.
At the request of his editors at Religion News Service, Omar Suleiman writes about waiting with hostages’ families.
Regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill, the PNBC leaders said they plan to lobby Congress in March and register voters weekly in their congregations and communities.
King’s exasperation at self-satisfied white Christians holds up a mirror that is still painfully accurate today.
A day before the U.S. Senate was expected to take up significant legislation on voting rights that is looking likely to fail, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s eldest son condemned federal lawmakers over their inaction.
The congregation’s rabbi, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, is particularly well connected to the larger interfaith community and on good terms with many Muslim leaders.
For Martin Luther King Day, an interfaith panel reflects on the sacredness of the vote and the legacy of Reverend King.
In his new book, Princeton historian Julian E. Zelizer reexamines the life of Abraham Joshua Heschel and finds lessons for interfaith political activism today.
King drew criticism from Billy Graham, who told journalists that he thought King was wrong to link anti-war efforts with the civil rights movement.
Some are calling out historical injustices the church has carried out against Native Americans, even as others find their faith empowering.
IFYC’s Vote is Sacred campaign launched on January 13. Faith leaders, public intellectuals, activists, and organizers are joining to advocate for an inclusive, nonpartisan interfaith approach to restoring and protecting our democracy.
One out of five Muslims is in an interfaith relationship, surveys suggest. But few imams are willing to conform the traditional Muslim wedding ceremony to their needs, couples say.
In her popular podcast series, Corrigan invites guests to wonder about 'the elephant in America's living room': belief and religion. 'I hope I have a hundred more conversations like these in 2022 and beyond,' she says.
In his annual address to the Vatican's diplomatic corps, the pope stressed the individual's responsibility 'to care for ourself and our health, and this translates into respect for the health of those around us.'
The very people who have been subject to the worst of the United States have embodied its best.

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.