Neumann University to Host Religious Freedom Lecture

Dr. Matthew J. Franck
Dr. Matthew J. Franck

Dr. Matthew J. Franck will present “Individual, Community and State: How to Think About Religious Freedoms,” a Constitution Day lecture, on Thursday, September 13, at 4:30 p.m. at Neumann University. This lecture is free and open to the public and will be held in room 364, Bachmann Main Building.


In Franck’s view, “Recent developments in American politics, law, and policymaking have brought religious freedom under new and sustained pressures.  From the federal ‘contraception mandate’ in health-care policy, to attacks on the right of religious students to organize on college campuses, to demands that religious individuals and institutions recognize and honor same-sex unions, there seems to be a concerted effort in our secular culture to enclose religion—or at least traditional, orthodox biblical religion—in a ‘cage’ where it is no longer free to be a vital part of our public conversation.”  


He holds that “Religious believers, communities, and institutions are increasingly threatened directly in their ability to act on their own consciences.  Under these circumstances, it is vitally important that we think through again, from the ground up, the nature of religious freedom, and the purpose it serves in a just political order.”  


Dr. Matthew J. Franck of the Witherspoon Institute will guide the audience through this rethinking, examining the ground of religious freedom in the human dignity of each individual, the peculiar value of religious communities as contributors to a free and vibrant civil society, and the proper limits on the state’s power over belief and conscience, faith and witness.


Franck is the director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ. He is professor emeritus of political science at Radford University, Radford, VA, where he taught constitutional law, American politics, and political philosophy from 1989-2012. He also served as chair of the Department of Political Science at Radford from 1995-2010.


He is the author of Against the Imperial Judiciary: The Supreme Court vs. the Sovereignty of the People (1996); co-editor with Richard G. Stevens of Sober as a Judge: The Supreme Court and Republican Liberty (1999); and a contributor to several other books. He has published essays and reviews in numerous academic journals, and reviews and commentaries on constitutional and political subjects in such places as the Washington Post, First Things, and the National Review.


Franck, a Delaware native, earned his B.A. in political science (magna cum laude) from Virginia Wesleyan College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University. He was a J. William Fulbright Professor of American Studies in 1998 at the Graduate School of International Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea; a visiting fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, 2008-09; and a visiting lecturer in politics at Princeton in 2012.



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