Sounds like a real timely program at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus this Tuesday (April 28) at 6 p.m.:
Matters of Conscience: When Moral Precepts Collide with Public Policy
Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture describes the forum like this:
What happens when individuals or institutions are called upon to cooperate with actions that they consider gravely immoral but that the law and public policy allow?
Recent legislative and judicial developments touching on life, death, sexuality, and family have stirred deep conflicts about traditional moral and religious norms. Abortion has deeply divided American society, so have physician-assisted suicide and same-sex marriage. Sometime these developments are said to pose a threat to individuals or institutions asked to participate in actions that they consider immoral. In some circumstances exemptions have been created for those holding conscientious objections of a religious or moral nature—most notably in the case of abortion. In turn, these exemptions have been criticized as threats to social or individual rights and needs.
Should “conscience clauses” or other safeguards protect individuals or institutions from being compelled—by licensing laws, prohibitions against discrimination, or withdrawal of public funding or tax exemption—to cooperate with conduct that violates religious or moral principles? Can protection for conscience be balanced against the rights of those seeking morally controversial but lawful and possibly momentous services?
Here’s the line-up:
Moderator: Russell Pearce holds the Bellet Chair in Legal Ethics, Morality, and Religion, Fordham University School of Law.
Nadine Strossen, professor of law at New York Law School, was president of the American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008). She has written, lectured, and practiced extensively in the areas of constitutional law, civil liberties, and international human rights. She is author of Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight for Women’s Rights and Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Marc D. Stern, now acting co-executive director of the American Jewish Congress, has long served as a leading expert on church-state issues. As the Congress’s general counsel, he litigated, prepared amicus curiae briefs, drafted legislation and gave public testimony on religious freedom questions for three decades. He is the author of Religion and the Public Schools: A Summary of the Law, co-author of Your Right to Religious Liberty: A Basic Guide to Religious Rights, and contributor to the book Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty.
Douglas Kmiec is professor of constitutional law and Caruso Family Chair in Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University. He also served as dean and St. Thomas More Professor of Law at The Catholic University of America and on the law faculty at the University of Notre Dame. He is co-author of three books on the Constitution — The American Constitutional Order; Individual Rights and the American Constitution and The History, Structure and Philosophy of the American Constitution.
Robert Vischer, associate professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School, has written extensively on law, religion, and public policy, focusing in particular on the religious and moral dimensions of professional identity. His forthcoming book, Conscience and the Common Good: Reclaiming the Space Between Person and State, addresses the communal dimensions in which the dictates of conscience are shaped, articulated and lived out.