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CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. (Oct. 20, 2023) — The Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III ’67 Institute for Religious Liberty (IRL) at Thomas More University hosted an interfaith event on campus Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, entitled “In Defense of Strictly Scrutinizing Religious Rights.” The event was moderated by Robert Stern, Ph.D., assistant professor in history & legal studies at Thomas More University and featured as the keynote speaker Stephanie Barclay, University of Notre Dame faculty member and director of Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative. Guest commentators included Holly Hinckley Lesan, of Brigham Young University (BYU) Law School, and Gary L. Greenberg, former principal at the law office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

“Our keynote speaker, Stephanie Barclay, is one of the leading scholars in the country in first amendment/religious liberty issues that reach the Supreme Court,” explains Raymond Hebert, Ph.D., executive director of the IRL. “She is considered an expert on issues involving the nature of constitutional rights, the free exercise clause, and strict scrutiny issues. Religious liberty cases are complex because frequently the value of the constitutional right involved clashes with the government’s public policy concerns.”

Barclay encouraged participation and open dialogue from the crowd. “When people are religious, they tend to give back and be more committed to their communities, no matter what religions are represented within that community,” she explained when asked about the importance of religious liberty. “Protecting religious freedom tends to act as an alarm bell, as the canary in the coal mine, that government is intruding more than it should into that or other freedoms.” Barclay went on to cite several court cases throughout U.S. history that have influenced religious liberty protections provided by the first amendment and how those have changed over time.

Barclay’s research focuses on the role our different democratic institutions play in protecting minority rights, particularly at the intersection of free speech and religious exercise. Barclay’s academic writing has been published or is forthcoming in publications such as the Harvard Law Review, the Washington University Law Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, and the Boston College Law Review. She directs Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative, which promotes freedom of religion or belief for all people through advocacy, student formation, and scholarship.

Both guest commentators have also made significant contributions in the area of religious liberty. Lesan co-directs the Young Scholars Fellowship on Religion and the Rule of Law, held annually at Oxford University. Greenberg has more than 40 years of experience counseling and representing employers in a wide variety of workplace legal issues including representation of religious employers in employment law matters. He also served on the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Board of Governors Executive Committee until May 2022, and as president of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati from May 2018 to May 2020.

A recording of the event will be available Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, on the IRL webpage found HERE.

For more information about Thomas More University, visit www.thomasmore.edu.


About Thomas More University

For 100 years, Thomas More has created a university for the student who wants to Be More, Do More, Seek More, Win More, Achieve More, and Create More. Since its founding in 1921, Thomas More has provided a mission-driven, liberal arts education that is based in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Students learn to harness the power of human reason to solve problems and discover truth, which allows them to begin the journey to become the person they were created to be. Entering into the second century, it’s time for More. Serving more than 2,000 students, Thomas More aspires to be the premier Catholic university in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, build upon its excellent return on investment (ranked #1 among private universities/colleges in Kentucky by MSN Money in 2021 and ranked #2 for long term gain in Kentucky by a 2022 Georgetown University study) and share with this generation the transformative power of the Thomas More experience. To find out more, visit thomasmore.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lyna Kelley, director of communications and PR, kelleyl@thomasmore.edu, 859.344.3309