‘Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation’ Topic of Crader Lecture


2007_Loc_Grauel-001-MCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 11, 2012 – An American University professor and Rhodes Scholar will present a lecture, titled “Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation,” Sept. 25 at Southeast Missouri State University.

Dr. Daniel Dreisbach will speak at 7 p.m. in Rose Theatre. The lecture is free and open to the public.

The Crader Family Endowment for American Values, within the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, is dedicated to education, research and public engagement in the historical traditions of the United States of America and Western Civilization. The endowment’s objectives are to increase knowledge and appreciation of the political, religious and economic heritage of this nation and the West, and the values of individual liberty, constitutional principles and civic virtue that are at the foundation of this society. The endowment is named in honor of the Crader Family: Don and Saundra Crader of Marble Hill, Mo., and Stan and Debbie Crader of Jackson, Mo.

The lecturer, Dreisbach, is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. He received a Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia. Following law school, he served as a judicial clerk for Circuit Judge Robert Chapman of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and for two years he practiced public interest law specializing in civil and religious liberties.

Dreisbach’s research interests include constitutional law and the intersection of politics, law, and religion in the American founding era.

“This lecture examines Jefferson’s celebrated figure of speech in its literary and historical context and considers how his trope has informed popular and judicial interpretations of the constitutional provisions governing church-state relations,” Dreisbach has said.

“We are delighted to bring Professor Daniel Dreisbach to campus, as our fourth annual Crader Lecturer in the Humanities, made possible through the generosity of the Crader Family,” said Dr. Wayne Bowen, chair of the Department of History at Southeast Missouri State University. “Dr. Dreisbach’s topic, on Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State, is particularly timely in this Election Year.”

Dreisbach is a current member of the editorial board of “Politics and Religion” (a Cambridge University Press journal) and a former managing editor of the “Journal of Law and Politics.” He has authored or edited eight books, including “Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State” (New York University Press, 2002), “Faith and the Founders of the American Republic” (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) (co-editor), and “The Sacred Rights of Conscience” (Liberty Fund, 2009)(co-editor). He has contributed essays to leading reference works such as “The Cambridge History of Religions in America” (2012) and “Oxford Handbook on Church and State in the United States” (2010). He has published more than 70 book chapters, reviews and articles in scholarly journals, including “American Journal of Legal History,” “Constitutional Commentary,” “Emory Law Journal,” “Politics and Religion,” “Journal of Church and State” and “William & Mary Quarterly.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has cited Dreisbach’s scholarship, and he served as a consultant to the Library of Congress for a major exhibit on “Religion and the Founding of the American Republic.” He has been a featured commentator in numerous documentaries, including Fox News Channel’s “Religion in America: Church and State;” PBS’s “Wall of Separation: The Phrase that Divided America;” “Charles Colson on Politics and the Christian Faith;” and the recent PBS American Experience and Frontline, WGBH-Boston series, “God in America.” He is a Senior Fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion. In 2006-2007, he was the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. Dreisbach is a past recipient of American University’s highest faculty award, “Scholar/Teacher of the Year.”