The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Lunchtime Lecture Series

Daniel Burns

Wed, February 11, 2015 | BAT 5.108

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

"Augustine, Locke, and the American Experiment in Religious Liberty"

When the American founders decided to set up a government that would protect religious liberty, they were influenced by a range of different authors over the centuries who had written on the relationship between religion and politics. Two of these authors were John Locke and St. Augustine, who present sharply contrasting understandings of religious liberty. I argue that understanding the American founding as a practical compromise between the extreme positions of Augustine and Locke can help us appreciate the strength of that compromise, and can also help us understand some of the tensions within the American understanding of religious liberty that are still visible in our political debates today.

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