Religion committee moves past cross

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March 23, 2007

3:34 PM

The William and Mary Committee on Religion at a Public University convened Wednesday, March 21, at 1 p.m. in Blow Memorial Hall. The Subcommittee on Speakers opened the meeting and announced Erwin Chemerinsky, Duke University Law Professor, as the first in a series of committee-sponsored speakers. At 6 p.m. April 5, he will speak on “Why Church and State Should be Separate” in Millington Hall.

p. Co-chairs Alan Meese, Ball Professor of Law, and James Livingston, Professor Emeritus of Religion, discussed recent meetings between alumni and the committee. They reported on meetings with alumni in Chicago and the Board of the Alumni Association of the College. In February, the committee announced plans to meet with alumni from northern Virginia, Richmond and Chicago. The meeting in Richmond is scheduled for March 26, and the meeting in northern Virginia is scheduled for March 28 at Falls Church High School.

p. “The purpose is to inform alumni about the process the Committee employed before reaching its decision, the exact content of the recommendation and resulting policy promulgated by the President and the Board and the activities of the Committee going forward. We will, of course, be soliciting any feedback they might provide and fielding any questions they might have,” Meese said.

p. “At the meeting with the Board of the William and Mary Alumni Association, we were asked what alternatives we had considered, including whether we had considered as an alternative the policy that existed before the President had issued his new policy in October 2006. As I said at the March 21 meeting, we did not divulge the contents of the Committee’s deliberations,” he said.

p. Meese and Livingston summarized a previous discussion with Louise Kale, director of the historic campus, to determine the exact nature of the cross display. The meeting’s focus then shifted to conferring on such issues as providing alternative spaces for student worship and prayer. Meese spoke on the short and long-term mission of the group. He mentioned goals including coordinating talks for the community, examining the role of religion in a liberal arts college, discussing multi-culturalism and religious diversity and suggesting an essay contest on the role of religion in a public university. Livingston concurred and stated that the committee has an educational role to play.

p. Julie Galambush, associate professor of religious studies, brought up three facets of the group. She discussed the committee’s need to examine broad philosophical issues, such as the separation of church and state, to clean up the controversy generated by Nichol’s original decision about the Wren cross and to provide practical places of worship for students.

p. The next meetings for the William and Mary Committee on Religion at a Public University are scheduled for April 9 and 11.

p. __Sean Dalby contributed to this report.__

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