David Adler

The Constitution and Religion: Origins, Challenges, and Accommodations

Few provisions of the Constitution have generated as much discussion and debate as the religion clauses of the First Amendment. The principle of religious liberty, protected by “Freedom of Religion” and the “Establishment Clause,” has injected heat and passion into American politics, from Main Street to Wall Street, and inspired libraries of articles, books and essays, sermons from the pulpit, lectures in ivory towers and rants and drunken orations in taverns across America. More often than not, these debates shed more heat than light.

Adler’s lecture will review the historical origins of the religion clauses, including the hopes and fears that inspired them, landmark Supreme Court cases that shaped the understanding of the scope of religious liberty, and controversial religion cases currently before the Court. What promises to be a lively, energetic Q & A session following the lecture will afford audience members the opportunity to probe this central area of constitutional freedom.