On April 13–14, Cairn University and The John Jay Institute co-hosted a lecture and seminar series titled “Religious Liberty and the American Founding” delivered by Dr. Mark Hall, George Fox University Herbert Hoover distinguished professor of politics.
Mark Hall holds a PhD in political science. He is director of the John Dickinson Forum for the Study of America’s Founding Principles. In addition to teaching at George Fox University, Mark is associated faculty at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, senior fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, and an affiliate scholar at the John Jay Institute.
This event was funded through a grant from the Institute of Humane Studies—an institution devoted to research and education with the conviction that a greater understanding of human affairs and freedom will foster peace, prosperity, and social harmony. Participants throughout the event included John Jay Fellows, and students from Cairn University and Westminster Theological Seminary. Dr. Hall delivered a lecture on Friday evening in the Highlander Cafe, followed by an all-day colloquium on Saturday.
The lecture on Friday was entitled “Why Tolerate Religion?” In this lecture, Dr. Hall focused on the arguments made by the American Founders regarding the importance of securing religious liberty in the United States Constitution. Dr. Hall urged students to consider some modern day issues that concern the protection of religious liberty in light of this lecture.
On Saturday, students participated in a colloquium, which included lively discussion. They focused on dozens of original documents from the founding era of the United States. The documents considered consisted of competing arguments concerning the extent of religious liberty.
Greg Schaller, president of The John Jay Institute and Cairn professor, commented, “It was interesting to consider how the original authors of the establishment and free exercise clauses of the United States Constitution might weigh in on current issues such as the Hobby Lobby case and the Affordable Care Act requirements that abortions and abortifacients be required components of health care plans.”
Students from diverse backgrounds with differing opinions were able to engage with one another through a discussion of early documents. Cairn and The John Jay Institute were pleased to host this event which was a valuable experience for all involved.
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