I am just back from passing a wonderful few days of fellowship and reflection at the Libertas Project’s workshop on religious freedom, hosted by the gracious and erudite Michael Moreland at Villanova Law School and sponsored by the generous Templeton Foundation. Together with other MOJ denizens Kevin Walsh and Michael Scaperlanda, I had the pleasure of talking together with a terrific group of learned political theorists, historians, theologians, and law professors about various issues–old and new–concerning the historical trajectory and current condition of the right of religious freedom.
Zak Calo and I had the privilege of moderating the seven sessions of the workshop. And the three of us–Michael, Zak, and I–worked together to assemble a panoramic set of readings to direct the group’s attentions and reflections:
- Chapters from Brad Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation and Mark Lilla’s The Stillborn God kicked things off
- A historical session on Burke, the relationship of establishment and regimes of religious toleration, and the intellectual history of the maxim, “Christianity is part of the common law”
- A session that included readings by Murray and Niebuhr set against United States v. Seeger
- A session that considered Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Address, Micah Schwartzman’s article about the moral justifiability of religion’s special constitutional protection, and Town of Greece v. Galloway
- And finally a few sessions devoted to Steve Smith’s recent book, The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom, with applications and speculations about various contemporary controversies
In all it was an extremely successful and productive event bringing together a broad range of disciplinary expertise and insight. I’ll have a bit more to say about some of the more particular subjects that interested me, but for now just want to congratulate Michael on organizing this excellent conference.