The role of religion in human and political affairs is evolving rapidly in Western democracies, as well as other nations. While the influence of traditional religious institutions may be fading, newer sects and means of influence are rising, with profound social and legal consequences. Courts and legislatures are being asked to make difficult choices, and free speech often seems to suffer. This panel of scholars, journalists, and legal experts engaged in conversation about what to do when the right to free speech and religious rights come into conflict.
Rights in Conflict: Speech and Religion
Event Series: Free Speech at the Crossroads: International Dialogues
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Kelsey Dallas, who grew up in Illinois, covers religion, politics, and the Supreme Court for the Deseret News in Utah and serves as deputy editor of the newspaper's national news team. She holds a master's degree in religion from Yale Divinity School, and her work has been recognized by Religion News Association, the American Academy of Religion, and several other journalistic organizations.
Edward Hadas is a research scholar at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford University, as well as a fellow at the Institute of Human Ecology, Catholic University of America, and a visiting senior fellow for the School of Management and Social Sciences, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, United Kingdom. He worked for many years as a financial analyst and then as a journalist, mostly at Reuters Breakingviews but also for one year as assistant editor of the Lex column of the Financial Times.
William Kay is a former senior lecturer in the Department of Education and Professional Studies at King’s College, London, and he was founding director of the Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies at Bangor University in North Wales. He has published widely on religious education. His most recent research, funded by a Templeton grant, was on Pentecostal-style church growth in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. Kay is also a Pentacostal minister.
Louise Melling is a deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and heads its Center for Liberty, which works on reproductive freedom; women’s rights; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights; freedom of religion and belief; and disability rights. She leads the ACLU's efforts to address the intersection of religious freedom and equal treatment, and she has established it as a national leader in opposing the use of religion to discriminate.
Professor Michael Scott (moderator) is senior dean, fellow of Blackfriars Hall, the University of Oxford, college adviser for postgraduate students, and a member of the Las Casas Institute. He also serves as senior adviser to the president at Georgetown University. Scott was on the editorial board which relaunched Critical Survey from Oxford University Press. He previously served as the pro-vice-chancellor at De Montfort University and founding vice-chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University.
Sanford J. Ungar
Sanford J. Ungar (moderator), president emeritus of Goucher College, is director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, which documents challenges to free expression in education, government, and civil society in the United States. Director of the Voice of America under President Bill Clinton, he was dean of the American University School of Communication after a distinguished career in journalism. Ungar is a former co-host of All Things Considered on NPR.
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