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- Politics, Law and Public Policy
Endowed Rutgers Law–Camden Lecture Explores Counseling Faith-based Organizations April 4
CAMDEN —Rutgers Law–Camden students are immersed from day one with how to best represent future clients. But what if the client happens to be a church? What particular legal challenges arise when religious entities, some with distinct belief systems dating thousands of years ago, must also function within federal laws born just this year?
The fifth annual Donald C. Clark, Jr. ’79 Endowed Law and Religion Lecture, titled “Religious Practice: Counseling and Representing Faith-Based Organizations,” will let Rutgers Law students hear from practitioners in the field about the day-to-day experiences of advocating for religious entities, at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 4.
Confirmed panelists featured in the program, include Jeffrey Hunter Moon, director of legal affairs and solicitor of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; K. Hollyn Hollman, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee For Religious Liberty; and Donald C. Clark, Jr., a ’79 Rutgers Law–Camden alumnus, and general counsel for the United Church of Christ.
According to Matan Shmuel, editor-in-chief of the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, the academic publication that organizes the endowed lecture, this year’s program will give students an opportunity to hear how current issues are impacting the practice of law and religion.
“This annual event has become part of the fabric of the law school,” says the third-year Rutgers Law student. “This year, I’m interested to learn how you balance a lawyer’s obligations and the law and the daily conflicts that might arise as a religious person representing that organization as an attorney.”
While the invited speakers will address the roles and functions of their offices, there will also be opportunity to discuss what situations might threaten or have threatened the religious autonomy and liberty interests of the organizations represented. “Religious liberty, properly understood, is not a liberal versus conservative versus libertarian issue. It is not a partisan political issue at all,” says Moon.
“It is, rather, a shorthand phrase for the right of all religious believers and organizations to decide for themselves who they are and what their beliefs are, and then to the maximum extent possible to be allowed to act on the basis of those religious principles, and not to be disfavored by government in doing so.”
Encouraging comprehensive dialogue on law and religion outside of the legal classroom is precisely why Clark endowed this annual lecture at Rutgers Law–Camden. “Religion clause jurisprudence is not just a theoretical exercise. It has real meaning for millions of adherents of faiths throughout the country that requires lawyers of those faith communities to understand, interpret, and apply the legal principles within their faith,” notes the Rutgers Law–Camden alumnus.
Clark credits his Rutgers Law–Camden
education for providing him with a strong foundation of critical legal analysis
that he continues to carry with him throughout his professional career.
“[The law school] places a premium on critical legal analysis and the importance of it being applied to all legal issues and all aspects of life in which legal issues arise,” says Clark. “I’m interested in making today’s students aware of an example of how the foundational principle of critical legal thinking has real meaning throughout one’s career and everyday life.”
All three speakers will be featured in the spring issue of the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion. More information about the Rutgers Law publication is available at lawandreligion.com.
CLE credit will be offered for the public lecture, which will take place in Penn 401, accessible from the side of the Paul Robeson Library on Fifth Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the Rutgers–Camden campus. For directions to campus, visit camden.rutgers.edu.
Media Contact: Cathy K. Donovan