by Taylor Kilgore
University of West Georgia professors Dr. Daniel Williams, Department of History, and Dr. Robert Schaefer, Department of Political Science, presented in celebration of Constitution Day on September 17. The program entitled “Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Religion: The First Amendment and American Politics” gives insight how the First Amendment was formed and how it continues to present issues in modern society.
Dr. Schaefer, former technical chair of Bob Riley’s Alabama citizen’s Constitution Commission, explained how the First Amendment is a confusing topic to most individuals including those involved in the political arena. He compared interpreting difficult scripture to the difficulty of interpreting the Constitution. For example, the Congress Clause has caused an ongoing debate since day one and continues to cause issues today.
“The Bill of Rights is so difficult to explain because they were inserted into the Constitution to protect the state’s rights from the national government,” Dr. Schaefer said.
What he focused on in the First Amendment is that it was created to protect established churches at the state level.
Dr. Williams, author of God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right, spoke on the involvement of Christian advisors throughout the history of the United States. Also, he delved into the involvement of the Catholic Church during this period. He gave insight into the history of the political right and the transition into the political left. Also, he briefly described the role of Catholicism into the political system.
Dr. Williams explained, “Religion has made a shift to the political left over the last two decades.”