News Center

A Conversation with Jeffrey B. Hammond
By CSLR | Emory Law | May 12, 2021 11:05:00 AM

This interview is part of a new series of discussions with distinguished CSLR alumni working at the intersections of law and religion in academic, legal, and religious professions.

Jeffrey B. Hammond is an Associate Professor of Law at the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law at Faulkner University. His research interests include law and religion, especially Christian theological intersections with Anglo-American law and Free Exercise and Establishment Clause theory, health law, and law and bioethics, especially end-of-life issues. He teaches constitutional law, health law, and other courses. In addition to his several law review articles, his latest project on the laws of conscience is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

Hammond holds a juris doctor from Emory University School of Law and a Master of Theological Studies from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harding University.

We sat down with Professor Hammond (virtually) to learn more about his time at CSLR and his advice for current students.



What first drew you to the study of law and religion?

I was interested in religion clause cases, even as a teenager. I told the interviewers (one of whom was Dr. Mike Williams, the current president of my home institution, Faulkner University) for the scholarship that I received as a college student at Harding University in Arkansas that I wanted to be a lawyer working on constitutional cases or a psychiatrist. I've come pretty close to the first aspiration, as I'm a law professor who teaches constitutional law (where I can feed my interest in the religion clauses). Since studying with Professors Witte and Alexander, I've come to grow in appreciation of not just the study of the religion clauses but law and theology more broadly, including its historical and constructive strands.


What is your fondest memory of your time at CSLR?

It has to be the people and the opportunities they afforded me. Eliza Ellison brought me into the joint-degree program after I had matriculated at Emory Law School. She was for me (and many others) a mentor, friend, and important advisor. After my first year at Emory Law School, Abdu An-Na'im asked me to copyedit the book that he was editing. That was a valuable learning experience for me. I started working with Joel Nichols over the Winter Break of my first year in the program, checking  footnotes with him on the first edition of Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment. I looked up to Joel as an older friend, and he mentored me in the ins and outs of working for Professor Witte. I loved every minute of sitting in Professor Witte's classes and working for him. It was a thrill to work on Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment and Law and Protestantism and several of his articles. Not only was Professor Witte an exceptional teacher (really the best I've ever had), he was an equally terrific boss. I wanted to do a great job for him. Frank Alexander's Law and Theology seminar was one of the most formative experiences I've had in my educational career. It's the single most important reason I claim researching and writing in the intersection of law and Christian theology as one of my scholarly pursuits. Frank was a generous and compassionate teacher. Of course, it was exhilarting to sit in Hal Berman's courses and learn from the man who founded law and religion studies. Charles Reid was a fine teacher, and I learned much from his Canon Law course. Now I'd say I'm closest to Amy Wheeler, Professor Witte's chief of staff. Amy was a key person in the CSLR twenty years ago when I graduated, and her profile has only grown. She's a good friend and has been an invaluable resource for the book I am publishing through the Center.


What are you doing (professionally) now?

I am an Associate Professor of Law at Faulkner University's Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, where I teach courses in constitutional law, health law, and other subjects. I have participated in projects sponsored by the CSLR in line with my research interests, and I have a book, Christianity and the Laws of Conscience: An Introduction (co-editor, with Helen M. Alvaré) (Cambridge University Press) that should be published this year as part of the Center's Law and Christianity series for which Professor Witte is the series editor.


How has your law and religion training impacted your work, directly or indirectly?

It's directly impacted my work. I am part of a religious tradition (the Churches of Christ, part of the American Restoration Movement) whose orientation is focused on close reading of the Bible more than anything else. It would not have occurred to me to be interested in theology of Luther and Calvin and the other Reformers had I not worked with Professor Witte and taken other key courses - in particular, the incredible seminar on Calvin’s theology taught by the distinguished Candler School of Theology social ethicist, Dr. Jon Gunnemann. I now consider my theology to be evangelical and Reformed in spirit, though I still attend the Churches of Christ. At bottom, my law and religion training prepared me to be a law professor whose research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of law and Christian theology, the religion clauses, and constitutional law more broadly. I'm sure that my joint degree and affiliation with Professor Witte, in particular, played no small part in securing the job I have now. I'm enormously grateful of all the opportunities my work at the CSLR afforded me.


What advice would you give to current students?

Take advantage of all the opportunities you have to work for and be mentored by the world class faculty affiliated with the CSLR. Do a great job for them. You will be blessed in many ways, both tangible and intangible.



Don't miss Professor Hammond's latest book with Helen M. Alvaré — Christianity and the Laws of Conscience: An Introduction — available soon from Cambridge University Press!