The Genius of America: The Separation of Church and State

Date(s) - 11/07/2015
10:00 am - 11:45 pm

Northway Christian Church


The Genius of America: The Separation of Church and State
Ninth W.A. Welsh Seminar
Saturday, November 7, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Ronald B. Flowers, John F. Weatherly Emeritus Professor of Religion, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

Stalcup icons_EventAll Americans know of the American Revolution. In the creation of the government for this new nation, the founders created what Americans call, in shorthand form, the “separation of church and state.” A revolutionary idea because it was the first time in human history that a nation had disengaged itself from some religious orthodoxy or another and had declared its citizens free to be religious, or as non-religious, as they chose. We will explore what the U.S. Constitution says about the relation of religion and government by first looking at the Constitutional principles regarding that relationship and then by examining selected decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that interpreted the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment. Discussion of these clauses will focus on some hot button issues, mostly on how the Court has not been able to make up its mind on the proper interpretation of the Clauses, and will be guided by the interest of the group.
Ronald B. Flowers taught at TCU for 37 years and was chair of the Religion Department for 9 years. He is the author of several books, including Toward Benevolent Neutrality: Church, State, and the Supreme Court (co-authored with Robert T. Miller) which went through five revised and updated editions; Religion in Strange Times: The 1960s and 1970s; That Godless Court?: Supreme Court Decisions on Church-State Relationships (2nd edition 2005) and To Defend the Constitution: Religion, Conscientious Objection, Naturalization, and the Supreme Court. He has also served as President of the American Academy of Religion/Southwest and is currently a member of the Editorial Council of the Journal of Church and State. He is still teaching at TCU part-time and in 2008 wrote a book, with Steven K. Green and Melissa Rogers, entitled Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court.