The Volokh Conspiracy

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RWU Law Review Symposium, Sponsored by the Freedom from Religion Foundation Foundation, "Made No Attempt to Create a Balanced Symposium."

"We made no effort to seek out scholars who we thought would answer yes to the question our Symposium poses."


In September 2020, the Roger Williams Law Review held a symposium. The theme was "Is this a Christian Nation?" Professor Carl Bogus wrote the introduction to the issue. Here is a snippet:

We are grateful to the Freedom From Religion Foundation for providing a generous grant that allowed us to recruit some of the most distinguished scholars and thinkers on this subject. It needs to be noted that we made no attempt to create a balanced symposium. That is, we made no effort to seek out scholars who we thought would answer yes to the question our Symposium poses. We did that because we believe that opposite viewpoint—that America should not consider itself a Christian nation—is underrepresented in the current debate. However, the contributors were entirely free to speak and write as they so desired. In no fashion, were they encouraged to take or discouraged from taking any position. You will find their contributions in the pages that follow well worth your consideration.

A symposium on the Separation of Church and State was sponsored by the leading organization that promotes the Separation of Church and State. The word "recruit" suggests that generous honoraria were offered. And the organizers felt no need to invite a balanced panel, because the perspective that "America is a Christian nation" is overrepresented in the current debate. I can count on two hands the number of law professors who would argue in public that America is a Christian nation, whatever that even means. Still, I appreciate Professor Bogus's candor. If you wish to read what Erwin Chemerinsky, Marci Hamilton, and other likeminded professors think about the Establishment Clause, check out the symposium.

In 2018, I spoke at the Roger Williams Law Review symposium. The topic that year was immigration law in the Trump Administration. I was happy to serve as the token conservative. I wrote about the travel ban and the Establishment Clause. I'm grateful that an attempt at balance was made that year.