Is This a Christian Nation?
A Roger Williams University School of Law Symposium
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 One memorial on a public highway or a crèche on the front lawn of a town hall, or to open a meeting of a public body with the Lord’s Prayer? How should history be used to resolve such questions? The Roger Williams University School of Law assembles some of the nation’s most prominent scholars for a one-day symposium on its main campus in Bristol, Rhode Island.
8:15 AM – 8:45 AM Registration
8:45 AM – 9:00 AM Welcome, RWU Law Dean Michael A. Yelnosky
Introduction to Symposium, RWU Law Professor Carl T. Bogus
Meet the Presenters
Teresa M. Bejan is Associate Professor of Political Theory at Oxford University. She was previously a research fellow at Columbia University and a member of the political science faculty at Toronto University. She is the author of Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration (Harvard University Press), which compares views about civil discourse by Roger Williams, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes, as well as articles and book chapters about the philosophies of those three men on religious freedom and toleration. Her TED Talk, “Is civility a sham,” has more than 1.6 million views. She received a B.A. from the University of Chicago, a M. Phil. from Cambridge University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University.
Mary Anne Case is the Arnold I. Shure Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. She has also taught at Columbia University Law School, Princeton University, American Academy Berlin, New York University School of Law, and the Virginia School of Law. She is the author of dozens of articles and book chapters about religious freedom, gender equality, feminism, and other topics. Her work has appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, California Law Review, Supreme Court Review, and other leading journals. She received a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Erwin Chemerinsky is Dean and the Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California Berkeley School of Law. He was previously the Founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of the University of California Irvine School of Law, where he also held a joint appointment in the Political Science Department. Prior to that, he taught at Duke, UCLA, USC, and DePaul law schools. He is the author of hundreds of professional and popular articles and the author or editor of eleven books, including most recently We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century (Picador Macmillan). Dean Chemerinsky is one of the most prominent legal scholars and public intellectuals in the nation. He was named one of “top 20 legal thinkers in America” by Legal Affairs, and twice named the Most Influential Person in Legal Education by National Jurist. He received a B.S. from Northwestern University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Steven K. Green is the Fred H. Paulus Professor of Law and Affiliated Professor of History and Religious Studies, and the Director of the Willamette Center for Religion, Law and Democracy. He is the author of seven books, including most recently The Third Disestablishment: Church, State, and American Culture, 1940-1975 (Oxford University Press), and dozens of book chapters and articles about religious freedom. From 1992 to 2002, he was Legal Director and Special Counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He received a B.A. from Texas Christian University, a J.D. from the University of Texas, and both an M.A. in American Religious History and a Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He did additional graduate work at Duke Law School and Duke Divinity School.
Marci A. Hamilton is the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program Professor of Practice, and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the founder, CEO, and Academic Director of CHILD USA, a nonprofit academic think tank at the University of Pennsylvania dedicated to interdisciplinary research on child abuse and neglect. Her writings include God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty (Cambridge University Press), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She was a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Professor Hamilton received a B.A. from Vanderbilt University, an M.A. in English (Fiction Writing) from Penn State, and both an M.A. in Philosophy and a J.D. from the University of the Pennsylvania.
John A. Ragosta is a historian at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. He has taught law and history at University of Virginia, George Washington University, Oberlin, Hamilton, and Randolph College. He is the author of three books, including Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed (University of Virginia Press), which was selected as a featured alternate of the History Book Club, as well as articles and book chapters about the Founders and religious liberty. He has, over the course of his career, worked not only as an historian but as a beekeeper and practicing lawyer. He has been a member of the Advisory Committee for the U.S. Court of International Trade and the American Law Institute, and he is a member of the American Bar Federation. He received a B.S. from Grove City College and both a J.D. and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Virginia.
Jay D. Wexler is a Professor of Law at Boston University. He is the author of six books, including most recently Our Non-Christian Nation: How Atheists, Satanists, Wiccans, and Others are Demanding Their Place in American Public Life (Stanford University Press/Redwood), and is presently at work on a seventh book about marijuana policy, which will be published by the University of California Press. He has also written more than two dozen law review articles about church-state relations and other topics, which have been published by Stanford Law Review, Texas Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, and other leading journals, as well as commentary and humor articles in popular publications. Professor Wexler received a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.A. in Religious Studies from University of Chicago Divinity School, and a J.D. from Stanford University.
Associate Dean Jared Goldstein and Professor Carl T. Bogus will moderate the symposium.
Rhode Island MCLE Credit
This program has been approved for 6.5 CLE hours in Rhode Island.
$195 includes all symposium sessions, lunch, and 6.5 Rhode Island MCLE credits.
$125 for employees of government, nonprofit, public interest, and educational organizations (that's a $70 discount).
RWU Law students and members of the judiciary may attend the symposium complimentary but registration is required.
The last day to register is Friday, March 20, 2020.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Symposium cancellations received by Friday, March 20, 2020 are eligible to receive a full refund less a $10 administrative fee. Cancellations received after the stated deadline will not be eligible for a refund. Cancellations are accepted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Persons who, because of a special need or condition, would like to request an accommodation for an event should contact the Office of Programs & Events, as soon as possible, but no later than 72 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements can be made. email@example.com
This symposium is supported by a generous grant from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.