GREENVILLE, S.C. (June 21, 2022) – Several Bob Jones University students attended the Statesmanship and Religious Freedom (SaRF) Seminar Series hosted by the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Dr. Jim Bennett, BJU Division of History, Government and Social Science professor, was a featured lecturer and tour guide.
Emily Hallas, a 2022 graduate from Taylors, SC; Jonathan Hallas, a senior history major from Taylors, SC; Gaby Gonzalez, a junior political science major from Antioch, CA; and Sarah Whiteley, a junior political science major from Camas, WA, attended the conference in Washington, DC. Audrey Huffman, a junior political science major from Acworth, GA, and Randy Page, BJU chief of staff, attended the Philadelphia conference.
The origin of religious freedom as a concept was traced from ancient societies to the present. The various political figures who advanced religious freedom were also discussed. The role of religious liberty in the founding of America and church/state formation was explored in relation to the Founding Fathers.
At the Philadelphia conference, attendees heard lectures from leading religious liberty scholars including David Trimble (RFI), Dr. Jim Bennett (BJU), Dr. Mark David Hall (George Fox University), Dr. Daniel Dreisbach (American University) and Reverend Dr. Andrew Bennett (Cardus Religious Freedom Institute).
Other sessions explored biblical influences on American constitutional tradition, the origin of the wall of separation between church and state law concept, and a presentation on how the court system has interpreted the Free Exercise Clause. As part of this immersive experience, participants went on a guided walking tour through Philadelphia’s historical sites. Rev. Dr. Bennett, former Ambassador for Religious Freedom for Canada, led a discussion regarding the differences in religious expression in the public square between the United States and Canada. The Washington, DC, cohort had the opportunity to interact with members of Congress.
The SaRF Seminar Series will expand to other sites around the world in 2023, including Eastern Europe and the Middle East.