The Institute for Honor Symposium: Religious Values and Public Policy: Does the Separation of Church and State Also Require Separating Religion from Politics? March 16 - 17, 2018
W&L's fall, winter, and spring weekend seminars continue to be a popular feature of the Alumni College, for the programs offer participants a substantive weekend getaway in the beautiful environs of Lexington and Rockbridge County. Participants stay in local inns, with the program, receptions, dinner, and lunch on campus. Programs begin on Friday afternoon and conclude after lunch on Saturday.
Established in 2000 at Washington and Lee by a generous endowment from the Class of 1960, the Institute for Honor includes an array of initiatives and specific programs designed to promote the understanding and practice of honor as an indispensable element of society. The Institute for Honor Symposium is dedicated to the advocacy of honor as the core value in personal, professional, business, and community relations. The symposium is directed by Sam Calhoun, the Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and Law.
From the beginning of colonial America, religion was integral to public life. Religion's special place in the new American nation was enshrined in the First Amendment, which prohibited Congress from enacting laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise. In 1802, Thomas Jefferson characterized this language as "building a wall of separation between Church and State." Lively debate has ensued ever since. Was Jefferson correct? If so, what precisely does such a separation mean? In particular, does separating church and state also require separating religion from politics?
Join us for conversation on this important and complex subject, which is not only central to understanding American history, but also relevant to a number of current public policy disputes. A renowned law and religion scholar, Emory University's John Witte, Jr., will deliver a keynote address, "Separation of Church and State in American History and Today: Facts, Fictions, and Future Challenges." Daniel Mach, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, will share insights based on his ACLU experience and his prior legal practice specializing in First Amendment law. Sam Calhoun will examine the role of religious values in Abraham Lincoln's opposition to slavery. Calhoun will also introduce the symposium by setting forth key themes and issues, as well as lead a closing panel discussion.