RUSSLR 2011 Law and Religion Oration

Rights, Resistance and Revolution Protestant Contributions to Western Rights Talk by Professor John Witte, Jr

DATE Wednesday, 20 July
TIME 5:30pm
VENUE Moot Court Room, Ligertwood Building, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace
CONTACT Peter Burdon

SYNOPSIS:   Western rights talk was not born of the Enlightenment, but rooted in more than a millennium of earlier Jewish, Classical and Christian sources,  This lecture explores the vital contribution of early modern Protestants who wove these earlier teachings into a theory of fundamental inalienable rights whose breach by a tyrant was cause for revolution.  By 1650, European Protestants had already defined, defended, and died for every one of these rights that would appear a century and a half later in the U.S. Bill of Rights and other early democratic constitutuions.  This lecture tells that story, and its implications for a new theory and history of rights.

John Witte, Jr is Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, Alonzo L. McDonald Distinguished Professor, and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion Center at Emory University.  A specialist in legal history, marriage law, and religious liberty, he has published 180 articles, 13 journal symposia, and 24 books.

Recent book titles include: Sex, Marriage and Family Life in John Calvin’s Geneva. (2005); Modern Christian Teachings on Law, Politics, and Human Nature, 3 vols. (2006); God’s Joust, God’s Justice: Law and Religion in the Western Tradition (2006); The Reformation of Rights: Law, Religion, and Human Rights in Early Modern Calvinism (2007); Christianity and Law: An Introduction (2008); Sins of the Fathers: The Law and Theology of Illegitimacy Reconsidered (2009); Christianity and Human Rights: An Introduction (2010); and Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment (3d ed. 2011).

Professor Witte’s writings have appeared in ten languages, and he has lectured and convened conferences through North America, Western and Eastern Europe, Japan, Israel, and South Africa.  With major funding from the Pew, Ford, Lilly, Luce, and McDonald foundations, he has directed 12 major international projects on democracy, human rights, and religious liberty, and on marriage, family, and children.  These projects have collectively yielded more that 160 new volumes and 250 public forums around the world.  He edits two major book series, “Studies in Law and Religion,” and “Religion, Marriage and Family.”  He has been selected ten times by the Emory law students as the Most Oustanding Professor and has won dozens of other awards for his teaching and research.

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