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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Political Science

Constitution Day Speaker slated for Sept 16

As part of the University's celebration of Constitution Day, Professor Michael Lienesch of the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill will present a talk on "The Problem of Church and State: Why the Constitution Can't Solve It."  Scheduled for Thursday evening, September 16 at 7pm in Gambrell Hall Auditorium, the event is free and open to the public.  It is sponsored by the University Provost's Office, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Law School, as well as by this Department.  Professor Lienesch is a member of the Political Science Department at UNC.  He is the author of numerous books, articles, and essays, most of which focus on religion and politics, particularly religious fundamentalism and political conservatism, in American history, politics and culture.  His most recent book is entitled In the Beginning: Fundamentalism, the Scopes Trial, and the Making of the Antievolutuion Movement (2007).  Professor Lienesch has been a fellow of the National Humanities Center and has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lilly Endowment, and the Earhart Foundation.  He has won a number of teaching awards, and in 2010 was named University Professor of Distinguished Teaching at UNC.

Professor Lienesch's presentation will recognize that the relationship between church and state is one of most contested issues in American law and politics, and the main goal of the talk will be to explain why this is the case.  Focusing on the First Amendment, he will trace ideas of religious freedom from the creation of the Constitution to today, using some of our most famous court cases to show why Americans have had so much trouble finding the right role for religion in our public life.  In concluding, he will make some predictions about the future of this perennial problem, and also offer some suggestions about how we might begin to think more carefully about it. 

Professor Lienesch will also be presenting a paper to the Department's graduate students and faculty at a session of the Department's Political Science Research Workshop on the following day, September 17, at 1:30.  The paper is entitled "Antievolutionism and the Transformation of the Social Sciences."

Thursday, September 16, 2010