Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

FFRF underwrites law symposium

Vol. 37 No. 02 March 2020
“Is This a Christian Nation?” symposium                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

FFRF is proudly underwriting a scholar-studded late March symposium at the Roger Williams University School of Law focusing on the separation between state and church.

The one-day gathering with the title “Is This A Christian Nation?” will be held March 27 at the main campus in Bristol, R.I. Did the Founders intend the United States of America to be a Christian nation? Does it violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution to have a Latin cross on a World War I memorial on a public highway or a crèche on the front lawn of a town hall? How should history be used to resolve such questions? Some of the nation’s foremost First Amendment specialists are assembling in an attempt to grapple with the timely subject.

Among them is Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law. He is the author of hundreds of professional and popular articles and the author or editor of 11 books, including, most recently, We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century. Chemerinsky is considered one of the most prominent legal scholars and public intellectuals in the nation.

The other notables include University of Pennsylvania Professor Marci A. Hamilton, whose writings include God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Also on the roster is John A. Ragosta, a historian at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and the author of three books, including Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed. Teresa M. Bejan is associate professor of political theory at Oxford University and the author of Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration. And Steven K. Green is the director of the Willamette Center for Religion, Law and Democracy and the author of seven books, including, most recently, The Third Disestablishment: Church, State, and American Culture, 1940-1975.

Roger Williams University School of Law Associate Dean Jared Goldstein and Professor Carl Bogus will moderate the symposium. The event is open to the public, with paid registration. The cost for the general public is $195 and includes all symposium sessions, lunch and 6.5 Rhode Island Continuing Legal Education credits. The fee is $125 for employees of government, nonprofit, public interest and educational organizations. Roger Williams University law students and members of the judiciary may attend the symposium free of charge but need to register. Friday, March 20, is the registration deadline.

“We’re gratified that we’re enabling a gathering of some of the best legal minds in the country to focus on an issue that defines us a country,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The belief that the United States is a ‘Christian nation’ is unfortunately a common and dangerous misconception.”

FFRF, which is underwriting the symposium’s costs, thanks its Legal Director Rebecca Markert, a graduate of the Roger Williams University School of Law, and FFRF Strategic Response Director Andrew Seidel, as well the Roger Williams University School of Law itself, for their work and initiative in making possible this symposium.