When Law and Religion Meet 2012-2013


What happens to deeply needy populations when the modern welfare state begins to collapse? No longer provided with a safety net and devoid of other means of protection, the most vulnerable people in the Western world are left to suffer without support from the state. During 2012-2013, CSLR will explore “The Rights of the Needy” by focusing on the plight of the most vulnerable populations and offer provocative solutions.


Previous Lectures in this Series:

March 27, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

The Rights of the Needy: The Power of Mercy in Biblical Law

The McDonald Lecture in Christianity and Law

Michael Welker, Chair for Systematic Theology at the University of Heidelberg, investigates major biblical law codes to show that mercy -- the care for the weaker -- is not a surplus and luxury in common human life. Instead, it is a fundamental component of legal systems, institutions, and organizations that want to promote justice and are rightly called "humane.”

Ordained in the Protestant Church of Palatinate, Germany, Welker is a world-renowned theologian who works through the biblical traditions and through philosophical and sociological theories to address questions of contemporary culture. He is director of the University of Heidelberg’s Research Center for International and Interdisciplinary Theology, and studied with Jürgen Moltmann, one of the most celebrated theologians of modern times.Candler School of Theology, Rita Anne Rollins Building, Room 252


February 20, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Housing America's Families -- Investments, Risks, and Families

Currie Lecture in Law and Religion

Frank S. Alexander, Sam Nunn Professor of Law at Emory, will reexamine the basic American ethos of housing and homeownership in light of the Great Recession.  He will probe the goals of homeownership, the competing stories of housing as investments and as shelter, and ask that we get the story right as we seek to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for all Americans.

Alexander is CSLR’s founding director and co-founder of the Center for Community Progress. He is one of the nation’s leading experts on the mortgage crisis, affordable housing, and homelessness.


September 13, 4:30-6 p. m.

The Rights of the Needy: Children as the Most Vulnerable

Harold J. Berman Lecture

Martha Albertson Fineman, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory, outlines “Vulnerability and the Human Condition.” She presents “vulnerability” as an alternative to the “equal protection” standard, arguing that it should be understood to be universal and constant, and has the potential to move society beyond the “stifling confines of current discrimination-based models.”

Fineman is the founding director of Emory Law’s Feminism and Legal Theory Project and the director of its Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative. She is a world authority on feminist legal theory.

Don S. Browning Lecture

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, L.Q.C. Lamar Professor of Law at Emory, discusses "Blessing Vulnerability, Building Resilience: Children, Church, and Community." She explores how a shared religious tradition honoring the child plays a role in fostering laws, policies, and practices that are a response to every child's vulnerability -- and are designed to help children build resilience.

Directions and Parking

Driving directions, public transportation schedules, and parking information for CSLR are available here.

"An Apt and Cheerful Conversation on Marriage,"February 7, 2001

In this essay, John Witte, Jr. argues that modern Anglo-American marriage law was formed out of two traditions–one rooted in Christianity, a second in the Enlightenment. Each of these traditions has... MORE

Notable Lectures and Essays