"The Study of Law and Religion: An Apologia and Agenda," Ministry & Mission, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1988): 4-15

In this article, John Witte, Jr. and Frank S. Alexander discuss how, according to many contemporary observers, Western law and Western religion are in trouble. At one time, it is argued, law and religion were intimately connected and internally consistent. This article discusses how they have now become alienated not only from each other but also from themselves.

Why this author matters

John Witte, Jr. is one of the world's foremost scholars on legal history.

About the Author: Frank S. Alexander

FRANK S. ALEXANDER is Sam Nunn Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion.  He is Co-Founder of the Center for Community Progress, an organization that helps U.S. communities integrate vacant, abandoned, and blighted properties back into their economic and civic life.  He has served as Interim Dean of the Law School (2005-2006) and as Visiting Fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University (2007). His courses include Property, Real Estate Finance, State and Local Government Law, Law and Theology, and Federal Housing Policies. The author of more than 50 publications in the fields of real estate finance, law and theology, and community development, some of his recent publications include Create Affordable Housing for All,(Spring, 2013); Land Banks, Andrew G. Carswell, ed., The Encyclopedia of Housing 2d edition (2012);  Georgia Real Estate Finance and Foreclosure Law 2011-2012 (6th ed. 2011); Land Banks and Land Banking (2011), Neighborhood Stabilization Strategies for Vacant and Abandoned Properties (2011), Land Banking As Metropolitan Policy (2008); Louisiana Land Reform in the Storms’ Aftermath (2008); Christianity and Human Rights:  An Introduction (Cambridge Univ. Press 2010) (with John Witte, Jr.); and Christianity and Law:  An Introduction (2008, with John Witte, Jr.).

Recipient of the Emory University Thomas Jefferson Award (2006), the Crystal Apple Award for Excellence in Professional School Teaching (2005), the Student Bar Association Award for Most Outstanding Professor (2010, 2004), the Laura Jones Hardman Crystal Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service (2001), the Ben F. Johnson Faculty Excellence Award (1998), and the Emory Williams Award for Distinguished Teaching in Professional Education (1991), Professor Alexander was selected eight times as the Professor Who Best Exemplifies the Ideals of the Legal Profession by the Emory Student Bar Association. 

Founder of Emory University's Law and Religion Program in 1982, Professor Alexander's work in recent years has focused on community development and affordable housing.  From 1993 to 1996, he served as a Fellow of the Carter Center of Emory University, specializing in neighborhood redevelopment activities and low-income housing in conjunction with The Atlanta Project.  He served as a Commissioner of the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless from 1994-98.   In May, 2008 he testified before Congressional subcommittees on the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, and in November, 2009 on strategies to address the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

Professor Alexander is past Chairman of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta, a non-profit community service agency providing consumer credit counseling, and of Community Friendship, Inc., a non-profit psycho-social rehabilitation program for the chronically mentally ill.  He is the recipient of The George A. Pindar Award, Real Property Law Section, State Bar of Georgia (2006), the Inspiration Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Public Interest, Emory Public Interest Committee (EPIC) (2002), the Outstanding Service Award of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society (1996), the Georgia Affordable Housing Award for Individual Initiatives (1995), and the Citizen’s Award for Outstanding Service from the Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority (1995).

Professor Alexander received a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from the University of North Carolina.


Selected Publications by This Author

About the Author: John Witte, Jr.

September, 2014


John Witte, Jr., JD (Harvard), is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law, McDonald Distinguished Professor, and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University.  A specialist in legal history, marriage law, and religious liberty, he has published 220 articles, 15 journal symposia, and 27 books. 

Recent book titles include: Sex, Marriage and Family Life in John Calvin’s Geneva, 2 vols. (Eerdmans, 2005, 2014); Modern Christian Teachings on Law, Politics, and Human Nature, 3 vols. (Columbia University Press, 2006); God’s Joust, God’s Justice: Law and Religion in the Western Tradition (Eerdmans, 2006); The Reformation of Rights: Law, Religion, and Human Rights in Early Modern Calvinism (Cambridge University Press, 2007); Christianity and Law: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2008); The Sins of the Fathers: The Law and Theology of Illegitimacy Reconsidered (Cambridge University Press, 2009); Christianity and Human Rights: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2010); Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment (Westview, 3d ed. 2011);  Religion and Human Rights: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012); From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition (Westminster John Knox Press, 2d ed., 2012); and No Establishment of Religion: America’s Original Contribution to Religious Liberty (Oxford University Press, 2012).  Forthcoming titles include: The Western Case for Monogamy over Polygamy (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Professor Witte’s writings have appeared in 15 languages, and he has delivered more than 350 public lectures throughout North America, Europe, Japan, Israel, Hong Kong, Australia, and South Africa.  With major funding from the Pew, Ford, Lilly, Luce, and McDonald foundations, he has directed 12 major international projects on democracy, human rights, and religious liberty, and on marriage, family, and children. These projects have collectively yielded more than 160 new volumes and 250 public forums around the world.  He edits two major book series “Studies in Law and Religion” (Eerdmans) and “Law and Christianity” (Cambridge University Press).  He has been selected twelve times by the Emory law students as the Most Outstanding Professor and has won dozens of other awards and prizes for his teaching and research.  

Professor Witte is married to Eliza Ellison, a theologian and mediator. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.


Education: JD, Harvard University, 1985; BA, Calvin College, 1982

Selected Publications by This Author

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