The separation of church and state will be the focus of a forum and panel discussion next week in Oak Ridge.
The forum starts at 2 p.m. Sept. 9 at Grace Covenant Church in the Trinity Center on Robertsville Road. It will be led by Paul W. Sharkey, a professor emeritus of philosophy and religion, a press release said.
Sharkey’s presentation is titled “Separation of Church and State: Protect Your Religious Freedom.” He will discuss the country’s founders and their position on the issue, the Constitution’s First Amendment, and the challenges to the amendment that have continued from colonial times to the present day, the release said.
The forum will conclude with a panel discussion in which Sharkey will be joined by the Rev. Jake Morrill, pastor of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church; attorney Ann Mostoller; and the Rev. Larry Dipboye, pastor of Grace Covenant Church. Jo Ann Garrett, co-chair of the Women’s Interfaith Dialogue, will moderate the discussion.
Sponsored by the Women’s Interfaith Dialogue of Oak Ridge, there is no cost for attending the forum, and reservations are not needed.
The press release said the Women’s Interfaith Dialogue brings together women of diverse, faith, color, and culture to explore, understand, and learn from one another for the purpose of advancing justice, compassion, friendship, and human rights with a focus on women and children.
The proper separation of church and state was part of the recent public debate over whether to place “In God We Trust” signs over four doors at the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton. Opponents of the signs opposed them, in part, because they wanted to keep government separate from religion. Meanwhile, supporters of the signs said “In God We Trust” is the national motto and is found on the dollar bill, and they said the separation of church and state is often misunderstood.
The Trinity Center is located at 320 Robertsville Road.