U.S. Sen. Harry Reid to Deliver Inaugural U.Va. Lecture on Religious Liberty


Addressing the intersections of religion and politics, U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid will deliver the University of Virginia’s inaugural Joseph Smith Lecture on Religious Liberty on Sept. 26.

Sponsored by the College and Graduate School of Arts & SciencesDepartment of Religious Studies, the afternoon event will feature an interview with Nevada’s senior U.S. senator, now serving his fifth term. Reid will answer questions from the audience about the Senate’s role in mediating rights of religious conscience following the interview.

“Too often, the courts are seen as the sole arbiters of religious liberty in relation to minority interests,” said Kathleen Flake, U.Va.’s Richard Lyman Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies. “We seek to balance that view with Senator Reid’s insight into the legislative process, as well as less formal political activity. In any case, we expect the conversation to be a lively one.”

The lecture is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. in the Newcomb Hall Theater.

Reid’s appearance is part of a planned series of lectures and conferences supported by U.Va.’s Mormon studies program. An endowed professorship was created for this emerging field of scholarship within the Department of Religious Studies in 2013, when Flake was named the University’s inaugural Bushman Chair.

U.Va. was the first major public university to establish a Mormon studies chair. The sixth endowed chair in the College’s Department of Religious Studies, the Bushman Chair was established with a $3 million endowment funded by anonymous donors.

A leading scholar in the field of Mormon studies, Flake came to U.Va. from Vanderbilt University after 13 years of teaching experience in American religious traditions. A former attorney, she continues to research issues related to the influence of law on religion and to the tensions inherent in the First Amendment religion clauses.

Her present book project aims to bring these varied interests together in a study of the first generation of plural marriages and the significance of gender to the development of early Mormonism’s power structure.

Reid’s lecture is free, but tickets must be reserved. Reservations may be made through the U.Va. Arts Box Office, and tickets may be picked up Sept. 26 between 12:45 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. For information, click here or call 434-924-3376.

Media Contact

Caroline Newman

Associate Editor Office of University Communications