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Author and professor Michael Perry, who holds a Distinguished Chair in Law at Wake Forest University, will speak on “One Nation Under God: Democracy, Morality, and Religion” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, in the auditorium of Lafayette College’s Kirby Hall of Civil Rights.

Sponsored by the religion department and the Ethics Project, the talk is free and open to the public.

Lafayette’s Ethics Project promotes sound moral analysis and reasoning and their application to a full range of contemporary problems. Directed by George Panichas, associate professor and head of the philosophy department, and involving faculty throughout Lafayette, the program has sponsored talks, seminars, and other activities for more than a decade. Funding is provided by an endowment established by the late Louise M. Olmsted and her husband, Robert Olmsted.

“Perry tries to work out how in a pluralistic society you can have a conversation around matters of morality and religion, and still preserve democracy,” says Stephen Lammers, Lafayette’s Helen H.P. Mason Professor of Religion and his department’s liaison to the Ethics Project. “He really struggles with the idea of talking about those three entities in American life, where they often seem opposed. What I really like is Perry’s willingness to change his mind about his conclusions, and see where that he leads him. He’s continually struggling with and refining his own thoughts.”

“Our students are entering a society where conceptions of morality and religion will be contested,” adds Lammers. “Perry is going to give at least one way that they can hold onto some sense of religious tradition and some sense of morality and democracy.”

Perry’s is currently writing a book entitled We the People: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Supreme Court for the Oxford University Press. His other books, all published by Oxford, include The Idea of Human Rights: Four Inquiries (1998), Religion in Politics: Constitutional and Moral Perspectives (1997), Love and Power: The Role of Religion and Morality in American Politics (1991), and Morality, Politics, and Law (1988). Perry also has published at least 50 articles and essays.

Perry holds degrees from Georgetown, Columbia, and St. John’s (Minn.) universities. Before coming to Wake Forest, he held the Howard J. Trienens Chair in Law from 1990-1997 at Northwestern University, where he was a professor of law since 1983. From 1975-1983, he taught in the law department at The Ohio State University. Perry has been a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo, New York Law School, Tulane University, and Yale University.

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