Matters of Faith

Matters of Faith Speakers

Moderators: William Brewbaker, Heather Elliott, Bryan Fair, Paul Horwitz, and Meredith Render

Speaker List

Professor Corey Brettschneider
Brown University

Professor Brettschneider is Associate Professor of Political Science at Brown University, where he teaches courses in political theory and public law. He is also Associate Professor, by courtesy, of Philosophy and Public Policy. For the academic year 2010-2011 Brettschneider is a Rockefeller Faculty Fellow at the Princeton University Center for Human Values. He was a Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard Law School for the Winter Term 2009 and a Faculty Fellow at the Harvard Safra Center for Ethics during the 2006-2007 academic year. Professor Brettschneider received a PhD in Politics from Princeton University and a JD from Stanford University. He is the author of Democratic Rights: The Substance of Self-Government (Princeton University Press, 2007). His most recent articles include “The Politics of the Personal: A Liberal Approach,” in the American Political Science Review (2007), “A Transformative Theory of Religious Freedom,” in Political Theory (2010), and “When the State Speaks, What Should it Say? Democratic Persuasion and the Freedom of Expression,” forthcoming in Perspectives on Politics. These articles are part of a larger book project in progress, Democratic Persuasion: Promoting Public Values in Private Life. In addition, Aspen Press will publish Professor Brettschneider’s three-volume casebook on constitutional law in 2011.

Professor Douglas Laycock
University of Virginia

Professor Douglas Laycock is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the law of remedies and also on the law of religious liberty.

Before joining Virginia’s faculty in 2010, Professor Laycock served as the Yale Kamisar Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. Prior to that he taught for 25 years at the University of Texas and for five years at the University of Chicago.

Professor Laycock has testified frequently before Congress and has argued many cases in the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the author of the leading casebook Modern American Remedies; the award-winning monograph The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule; and many articles in the leading law reviews. He has co-edited a collection of essays, Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty, and he recently published Religious Liberty, Volume I: Overviews and History, the first of a four-volume collection of his many writings on religious liberty. He is vice president of the American Law Institute, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the 2009 winner of the National First Freedom Award from the Council on America’s First Freedom.

Professor Amanda Porterfield
Florida State University

Fascination with the power of religion drives Professor Amanda Porterfield’s work. Since the time she was an undergraduate, Professor Porterfield has set herself to the task of trying to find out how religion operates in people’s lives. In several decades of work, her quest has turned up a number of answers and an even greater number of questions.

As a graduate student, Professor Porterfield came to the conclusion that religion was a cultural phenomenon connecting individuals with larger social and intellectual forces, leading them to embody those forces and sometimes prompting them to respond to those forces in ways that established new ways of thinking and acting. She also fell in love with history, with the kaleidoscopic variety of historical expressions of religion and with the hard work of trying to understand the role that religion plays in how people and cultures change over time.

As an historian of American religion, Professor Porterfield is interested in the interplay between religion and politics, religion and social change, and religion and social conservatism. She has studied the role of religion in gender formation and written about Americans who used religious interpretations of gender to promote social order and their own influence in American society. She is also interested in the religious struggles of American intellectuals and particularly in the way intellectuals employ God and other religious ideas and then handle the challenges that develop in the course of living out their ideas.

Professor Porterfield does not see religion as an entirely intellectual matter, however. Several of her books emphasize the priority of religious practice. “People believe because they practice religious behavior and religious thinking as much as the other way around,” Professor Porterfield argues. “Belief in God crystallizes for people in the process of bowing their heads in prayer.” Attention to the many ways that religion is embodied in practice, along with attention to the engaging forms of material culture that encourage religious practice, helps Professor Porterfield in her continuing effort to explain the power of religion.

Professor Steven Smith
University of San Diego School of Law

Professor Steven D. Smith is one of the nation’s foremost scholars in the area of law and religion, and teaches in the areas of law and religion and constitutional law. Before joining the USD law faculty in 2002, he was the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School and was, previously, the Byron R. White Professor of Law at the University of Colorado School of Law. Among his many scholarly works are The Constitution and the Pride of Reason (Oxford University Press 1998) and Foreordained Failure: The Quest for a Constitutional Principle of Religious Freedom (Oxford University Press 1995). Professor Smith’s articles on law and religion and constitutional law have been published in the Michigan Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Virginia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and the Texas Law Review.

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