Presidential appointee, noted church-state expert to deliver annual lectureship on religious liberty

Melissa Rogers, a church-state expert recognized as someone “politicians will call on when they get serious about addressing an important public policy issue,” will deliver the annual Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State April 4-5 at Georgetown College.

John L. Hill ChapelRogers will make three presentations as part of the lectureship: At 4 p.m. Monday, April 4, and at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5. Each lecture will be held in the John L. Hill Chapel on campus. The lectures are sponsored by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, a Washington, D.C.-based education and advocacy organization, and Georgetown College.

On Monday, April 4 Rogers will present “Keeping Faith Free: Religious Expression in American Public Life.” At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 5, she will present “A Christian and American Case for Defending Muslims’ Free Exercise Rights” and at 4 p.m. the lecture will be “Continuity and Change: Faith-Based Partnerships under Presidents Bush and Obama.”

Rogers serves as director of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs and as a nonresident senior fellow within the Governance Program of The Brookings Institution. She also teaches courses on church-state relations and Christianity and public policy within the divinity school.

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed her chair of the first Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Rogers previously served as the executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C. Prior to her leadership at the Pew Forum, Rogers served as general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee. She has co-authored a case book on religion and law for Baylor University Press, Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court.

In 2004, the Shurdens of Macon, Ga., made a gift to the Baptist Joint Committee to establish the annual lectureship. Designed to enhance the ministry and programs of the Baptist Joint Committee, the lectures will be held at Mercer University every three years and at another seminary, college or university the other years.

A nationally noted church historian, Dr. Walter B. Shurden is the founder of the Center for Baptist Studies and, until his retirement in 2007, was the Callaway Professor of Christianity at Mercer. He is now Minister at Large, Mercer University. Dr. Kay W. Shurden, a retired professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Mercer University School of Medicine, is a noted author and maintains a practice in counseling and supervision.

The Baptist Joint Committee is a 75-year-old religious liberty organization dedicated to defending and extending religious liberty for all. It serves 15 Baptist bodies and works with a wide range of religious groups but is the only religious agency devoted solely to religious liberty and the separation of church and state.



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