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At this conference, graduate students will discuss religious freedom, the church-state relationship, and the role of religion in shaping the moral order of free societies. These issues will be examined through the lens of history, and readings and discussion will explore the relationship by illustrating how, at different points in history, Christianity has acted as a support for liberty and, at others, has failed to do so. The conference readings will focus on the writings of Lord Acton and Alexis de Tocqueville, two of the most insightful nineteenth-century liberal thinkers to write about the relationship between Christianity and liberty. The sessions progress chronologically and thematically: from a focus on antiquity and the rise of Christianity; to the central socio–political problems of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (religious freedom and the church-state relationship); to a key event that provoked re-thinking of those problems (the formation of the United States); to the treatment of issues that remain contemporary areas of concern (such as the implications of economic prosperity for religion and liberty).

Intended Audience: Acton alumni who are currently enrolled in or have recently completed graduate level work

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