Mercer to Host Shurden Lectures on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State April 7-8


ATLANTA/MACON – Mercer University will host the 2015 Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State, April 7-8, on both the Atlanta and Macon campuses. All three lectures are free and open to the public.

This year's lecturer is Alan Brownstein, professor emeritus at the University of California, Davis, School of Law. Brownstein is a nationally recognized constitutional law scholar who primarily focuses on church-state issues. He has been published in numerous academic journals, provided assistance to advocacy groups on issues relating to religious liberty and equality, and has been invited to lecture at many academic conferences and law-related programs.

Brownstein's first lecture, titled “Engaging in Respectful Discourse about Religion and Equality,” will be hosted by the McAfee School of Theology on April 7, 4 p.m., in the Atlanta Administration and Conference Center on the Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus.

His second lecture, “The Multi-Dimensional Nature of Church-State Controversies,” will be hosted by the Roberts Department of Christianity on April 8, 10 a.m., in the Medical School Auditorium in Macon.

His final lecture, “Liberty and Equality Values in the Hobby Lobby and Town of Greece Decisions,” will be hosted by Mercer Law School on April 8, 3:30 p.m., in the school's first-floor courtroom in Macon.

In 2004, Dr. Walter B. Shurden and Dr. Kay W. Shurden of Macon made a gift to the Washington, D.C.-based Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) to establish an annual lectureship on the issues of religious liberty and separation of church and state.

A nationally noted church historian, Dr. Walter B. Shurden is founding executive director of the Center for Baptist Studies and a minister-at-large for Mercer. He served at the University for almost 25 years as Callaway Professor of Christianity in the Roberts Department of Christianity in the College of Liberal Arts. During 18 of those years, he served as chair of the department.

Dr. Kay W. Shurden, a retired professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in Mercer's School of Medicine, is a noted author and maintains a practice in counseling and supervision.

Designed to enhance the ministry and programs of the Baptist Joint Committee, the lectures are held at Mercer every three years and at another seminary, college or university the other years. The lecturers, selected by the executive director of the BJC, may be academicians, politicians, ministers, church historians, ethicists or activists.

The BJC's mission is to defend and extend God-given religious liberty for all, furthering the Baptist heritage that champions the principle that religion must be freely exercised, neither advanced nor inhibited by government. For more information, visit

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.