Where can you find informed and opinionated citizens passionately engaging with top constitutional scholars regarding key constitutional issues? Where are the most engaging debates about the current challenges facing America taking place? Where can you join the fray?
In the Bill of Rights Institute’s Founders Forum.
Every month, the Institute’s top donors participate in a conference call led by key figures in constitutional scholarship and current events. October’s Founders Forum was hosted by Dr. Daniel Dreisbach of American University, and he discussed the role of religious liberty in America’s history and its relation to recent events in the news. He also talked about the impact the Institute’s new curriculum,Religious Liberty: the American Experiment, would have on students.
Among Dr. Dreisbach’s main points:
- The Founders’ support of disestablishment introduced a new approach to nurturing religious culture; each religion was now free to compete in the marketplace of ideas.
- The First Amendment was the culmination of this disestablishment approach.
- The First Amendment was designed to prohibit a national church, but the Founders did not intend to silence the voice of religion in public life.
-While the First Amendment prohibited the federal government from interfering with religion, America’s federalist system left states the right to determine the line between church and state. In fact, when the Constitution was ratified, several states had established churches.
Dr. Dreisbach then posed a challenging question to participants, one we’ll leave for you to weigh in on as well: How do we provide the social discipline necessary for self-government?
This is just one of the many difficult issues wrestled with during our Forums. Check in next month when we report on the Founders Forum taking place on Bill of Rights Day!