Opening Panel Discussion


Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)

"Religious Freedom and The Bill of Rights: Remembering the Importance of Our Nation's First Freedom."

Mike Lee is a U.S. Senator from Utah, where he serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is a constitutional lawyer and former law clerk to Samuel A. Alito, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.


Dr. Jan Shipps (IUPUI)

"The Prophet and the POTUS: Religious Freedom and the Mormons—Who, Where, When and How?"

This approach to religious freedom and the Latter-day Saints will begin with an account of Joseph Smith's visit to the White House when the President himself answered the door. That incident prompted the question of identity, who wanted to know about freedom of religion? It also generated the issue of location, the place among the executive, legislative, or judicial divisions as well as the federal, state or local levels of government where decisions about religious freedom should be and were made. The questions of when and how are historical: at what points in time did freedom of religion matters arise and what was the role of government as they played out in Mormonism and in the surrounding culture?

Dr. Jan Shipps is a Professor emeritus of History and Religious Studies at IUPUI and the foremost non-Mormon scholar of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


Dr. Sally Gordon (Penn Law)

"Religion in Public Life: The Supreme Court, School Prayer, and Secularism in Modern America."

We have all witnessed the partisan divides that dominate American politics. Frequently, both sides of the debate rely on religious rhetoric and ideas to drive home the stakes of given policies, from patriotic rituals such as school prayer and the pledge of allegiance, to the notion of America as a Judeo-Christian nation. This lecture places the Supreme Court at the center of such debates, situating the Court's decisions in religious history, and documenting the ways that current political divides have roots in the reaction to the jurisprudence of religion in the mid-twentieth century.

Dr. Sally Gordon is a Professor of Constitutional Law and History at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and a widely recognized scholar and commentator on religion in American public life and the law of church and state.




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