Mercer Hosts Inaugural Shurden Lectures


MACON, Ga. — A longtime Washington, D.C., religious liberty advocate, once called the “quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill” will deliver the inaugural Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State April 4-5 on the Mercer University campus. 

The lectures are sponsored by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and Mercer University.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will present “Separation of Church and State: Past, Present and Around the World” in three lectures in the McCorkle Music Building’s Fickling Recital Hall on the Macon, Ga., campus.

Rabbi Saperstein will deliver the following lectures: (1) “The Framers, the Justices and Us: An Overview of Changing Church-State Relations in American Life,” (2) The Use and Abuse of Religion in American Political and Public Life: Elections, Ten Commandments and Intelligent Design,” and (3) “Separation of Church and State in Israel: Insight from Another Democracy.”

In 2004, the Shurdens of Macon, Ga., made a gift to the Baptist Joint Committee in Washington, D.C., to establish the annual lectureship. Designed to enhance the ministry and programs of the Baptist Joint Committee, the lectures will be held at Mercer University every three years and at another seminary, college or university the other years.

A nationally noted church historian, Dr. Walter B. Shurden is executive director of the Center for Baptist Studies and the Callaway Professor of Christianity at Mercer. Dr. Kay W. Shurden, a retired professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Mercer University School of Medicine, is a noted author and maintains a practice in counseling and supervision.

The Baptist Joint Committee is a 70-year-old religious liberty organization dedicated to defending and extending religious liberty for all. It serves 14 Baptist bodies and works with a wide range of religious groups but is the only religious agency devoted solely to religious liberty and the separation of church and state.