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UVU to host prominent religious freedom symposium

By Melinda Colton uvu - | Apr 1, 2015
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Douglas Kmiec, Caruso Family Chair in Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University

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Calvary Baptist Choir of Salt Lake City

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David Archuleta 

The Center for Constitutional Studies at Utah Valley University will host a religious freedom symposium on April 15.

The Spring Constitutional Symposium on Religious Freedom will include an imposing lineup of distinguished religious studies and constitutional scholars, former U.S. Supreme Court law clerks, multidenominational contributors, and a finale program featuring popular musical performer David Archuleta.

“Some of the most important constitutional issues currently facing the nation involve religious freedom. If one wishes to learn more about how recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions will affect the religious freedom of individuals, businesses and religious organizations, then they will want to attend this academic symposium,” said Rick A. Griffin, director of the Center for Constitutional Studies. “Moreover, the evening finale will include a combination of remarks and musical performances that will add to the overall richness of the symposium.”

The symposium will begin with the opening keynote address, “The Quest for a Moral Presidency: Jimmy Carter, Progressive Evangelicalism and the Religious Right,” given by one of the most prominent presidential and religious scholars in the nation, Randall Balmer, the chair of the Department of Religion at Dartmouth College. Prior to this position, Balmer taught American religious history at Columbia University and was a visiting professor at such prestigious universities as Princeton, Yale, and Northwestern. He is perhaps best known, however, for his book “God in the White House.” Balmer’s remarks at the symposium will be based on his newest book, “Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter.” The address will begin at 10 a.m. in the Lakeview Room of the Library.

A distinguished afternoon panel featuring Balmer; UVU President Matthew S. Holland; Douglas Kmiec, Caruso Family Chair in Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University; and Gene Schaerr, a prominent constitutional law attorney who provided counsel on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, will examine what role, if any, presidents should play in religious matters, with particular focuses on the views of presidents Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. The panel will begin at 1 p.m. in the Library Auditorium.

From 3 to 5 p.m., a panel composed of Hannah Smith, former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Matthew Franck, director of the Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute; Nathan Oman, professor of law at the College of William and Mary; and Alexander Dushku, a member of the Kirton McConkie law firm, will discuss recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions pertaining to the religious freedom of individuals, businesses and religious organizations. The panel will be held in the Library Auditorium.

The symposium finale will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the UCCU Center and will provide a vibrant program of final remarks and musical performances.

“Because freedom of religion is a freedom shared by all Americans and because music has been such a powerful medium of religious expression, vibrating through the pages of our nation’s political and constitutional history, the center was especially interested in including a prominent musical guest speaker,” Griffin said. “We are excited to have popular singer and songwriter David Archuleta as the finale’s featured speaker and musical performer.”

As a former “American Idol” runner-up and member of America’s demanding music industry, Archuleta will share via word and song his unique life experience and provide insight into how religious freedom has impacted his life and career as an international musical performer. The finale will also include contributions by Kmiec, former U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Malta, and the popular Calvary Baptist Choir of Salt Lake City.

Admission to the symposium is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Free tickets for the morning and afternoon sessions are available at uvu.edu/ccs/events, or by calling (801) 863-5470. Free tickets for the finale program featuring David Archuleta and the other contributors are available at (801) 863-7469 or (801) 863-7474, the UCCU Center ticket office, Campus Connection, or at CCS in suite 305 of the UVU Library.

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