2006-2007 Events Invite Civil Debate on Church-State Issues

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By April L. Bogle

The future of marriage, religion in American public schools, the role of Islam in Islamic societies, and the Jewish belief in scientific proof of God are among the subjects to be explored by the Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) at Emory University during the 2006-2007 academic year.

“We are fostering reasoned, public debate about some of the most contentious church-state issues in the United States and the world,” said John Witte, Jr., Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and CSLR director. “We hope to raise awareness of the facts surrounding the issues and help people make better informed decisions in their daily lives.”

All events take place at Emory University School of Law, Tull Auditorium. They are free and open to the public. For more information call 404-712-8710. The schedule:

September 18, 2006: The Decalogue Lecture in Law and Religion
Maimonides: Science Generates Faith

Speaker: David. R. Blumenthal, Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies and CSLR senior fellow
Respondent: Michael S. Berger, associate professor of religious authority & ethics in Judaism and CSLR senior fellow
Chair: Michael J. Broyde, professor of law and CSLR senior fellow
Description: Blumenthal outlines the scientific worldview of Maimonides, the most influential Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages, and shows how the theological concepts of creation, revelation, prophecy, textual interpretation, and mysticism fit into an all-encompassing religious philosophy that has enduring significance for the Jewish community still today.
Time: 7:30 p.m. Kosher reception to follow.

January 17, 2007: Future of Marriage and Family Life
Speakers: Anita Bernstein, Sam Nunn Professor of Law and CSLR senior fellow; Mark D. Jordan, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion and CSLR senior fellow; John Witte, Jr., Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and CSLR director; and Karen Worthington, clinical professor of law, Barton Fellow, co-director of the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic and CSLR senior fellow
Moderator: John C. Mayoue, Warner, Mayoue, Bates & Nolen, P.C.
Description: Panel discussion about the most explosive issues of modern American family life: same-sex marriage, covenant marriage, abolition of marriage as a legal category, impact of marital change on children, and the role of the church in marriage reform.
Time: 7:30 p.m. Reception to follow.

January 29, 2007: The Currie Lecture in Law and Religion
The Future of Shari'a: Secularism from an Islamic Perspective
Speaker: Abdullahi An-Na'im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law and CSLR senior fellow
Chair: Frank S. Alexander, professor of law and CSLR co-director Description: An-Na'im outlines his concept of a secular state for Islamic societies, while regulating the public/political role of Islam in Islamic societies and communities. Panelists will respond from different perspectives.
Time: 4 p.m. Reception to follow.

March 5-6, 2007: The Role of Religion in American Public Schools
T. Jeremy Gunn, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief and CSLR senior fellow, and Charles C. Haynes, senior scholar at the Freedom Forum 
Description: A civil discussion about a culture war issue, the event brings together legal scholars of various perspectives who can describe the state of the law with regard to religion in the public schools, includes the voice of school educators, and opens the discussion to the public for reasoned debate.
Time: March 5: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; March 6: 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 
Co-sponsors: American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom Forum
CLE Credit Available


The CSLR is home to world class scholars and forums on the religious foundations of law, politics, and society. It offers expertise on how the teachings and practices of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have shaped and continue to transform the fundamental ideas and institutions of our public and private lives. The scholarship of CSLR faculty provides the latest perspectives, while its conferences and public forums foster reasoned and robust public debate.

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