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 One Nation Under God: Religious Freedom In The U.S.

  • 06:00 PM

One Nation Under God: Religious Freedom In The U.S.

Hot Topics

With Don Clark, Kelly Shackelford and Susan Thistlethwaite

Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; program begins at 6 p.m.

Beaver Creek Chapel | Beaver Creek


Religious freedom is called “the first freedom,” not only because the Bill of Rights begins with two clauses concerning religion, but also because distinct conceptions of religious freedom have distinguished the United States since its inception. However, our nation has found itself continually renegotiating the meaning of religious freedom in every age.
This panel will examine the meaning of religious freedom in American law by exploring the proper limits on religious displays on government property and the deep debates over whether religious dissenters should be exempted from statutory protections against discrimination in commerce and public accommodations. Speakers will draw upon actual cases to illustrate these issues.
Don Clark is the former General Counsel and principal legal advisor for the United Church of Christ (UCC), a Protestant religious denomination of nearly one million members and five thousand local churches. He recently completed service as Acting President of the Chicago Theological Seminary. In these capacities, Mr. Clark has in-depth experience with the religious freedoms and civil rights at issue. For example, Mr. Clark advised the United Church of Christ regarding its federal lawsuit General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Resinger, et al. (W.D. N. C.2014), which successfully challenged state statutes that had the impermissible effect of criminalizing religious ceremonies blessing same sex marriages and which ultimately led the court to declare the constitutional right to marriage equality in the state of North Carolina. Mr. Clark also has firsthand experience with Johnson Amendment and I.R.S. regulations governing political campaign activities of churches and not for profits, having successfully represented the UCC during an IRS church tax inquiry asserting that the appearance of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama at the denomination’s general synod constituted a violation of campaign prohibitions, the first time that the IRS challenged the tax-exempt status of an entire religious denomination. Don Clark has argued free exercise and establishment clause cases in state and federal courts throughout the country, including successfully arguing before the highest state court in Massachusetts.  Among the recent awards and recognition he has received for his work in these areas, Mr. Clark received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Crain’s Cleveland Business magazine and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Rutgers University.
Kelly Shackelford, Esq. is president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, the largest legal firm in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom for all Americans. He has served in this role since 1997, leading First Liberty’s efforts to defend religious freedom in the courts and in the public arena. Under his leadership, First Liberty’s legal team has participated in cases before the United States Supreme Court, federal courts of appeals, federal district courts and various state courts, where they have won more than 90 % of their cases.
Shackelford is a constitutional scholar who has argued before the United States Supreme Court, testified before the U.S. House and Senate and has won a number of landmark First Amendment and religious liberty cases. He was recently named one of the 25 greatest Texas lawyers of the past quarter-century by Texas Lawyer and is the recipient of the prestigious William Bentley Ball Award for Life and Religious Freedom Defense for pioneering work protecting religious freedom. Shackelford is a highly sought-after speaker and frequent guest on national news and talk shows including Good Morning America, The Today Show, The O’Reilly Factor, CNN, Fox and Friends, MSNBC and Hannity. He also has been featured in the National Law Journal, Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Times, The Washington Post, The L.A. Times and many others. Shackelford is on the Board of Trustees of the United States Supreme Court Historical Society and earned his law degree from Baylor University.
Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (moderator) is professor of theology at Chicago Theological Seminary. From June of 1998 until June of 2008, she served as the 11th President of CTS. Prior to the presidency, she had been a Professor of Theology at CTS for 20 years and director of the Ph.D. Center for five years. She has a Ph.D. from Duke University, a Masters of Divinity (Summa Cum Laude) from Duke Divinity School and a B.A. from Smith College. An ordained minister of the United Church of Christ since 1974, she is the author or editor of thirteen academic books, including two different translations of the Bible. She has also published two works of fiction and is hard at work on a third.
This program is generously underwritten by Jan & Dr. Maurice John and Holly & Ben Gill. The Hot Topics series is generously underwritten by Kathy & Neal Kimmel

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