2013 CLS National Conference

Christian Legal Scholars’ Symposium


Discrimination, Pluralism, and Religious Freedom

Friday, October 18
with Optional Workshop Saturday, October 19

Stephanie Summers, CEO, Center for Public Justice
Stanley Carlson-Thies, President, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance


James A. Sonne, Director, Religious Liberty Clinic and Lecturer in Law, Stanford Law School
Michael P. Moreland, Vice Dean and Professor of Law, Villanova University School of Law
Zachary R. Calo, Michael and Dianne Swygert Research Fellow & Associate Professor of Law, Valparaiso University Law School

The Topic

Is it wrongful discrimination when a Christian college or other faith-based service organization seeks staff committed to its religious beliefs and conduct standards?  Should a Catholic adoption agency be required to place children without regard to the marital status or the sexual practices of families hoping to adopt?  May a Sikh institution require homeless people who enter looking for help to follow religious guidelines such as removing shoes and covering heads, or is this unjustifiable discrimination when serving the public? 

Our society is less and less a moral monoculture, and yet governments at all levels are increasingly imposing on private activities and private organizations uniform standards drawn from the secular majority.  Should the faith-full practices of religious student clubs, pro-life health clinics, religious higher education institutions, and thousands of other faith-based service organizations vital to our civil society and our social safety net be accommodated as legitimate elements of diversity or suppressed as illicit discrimination?

This year’s symposium will feature a luncheon presentation with interactive workshops to follow. It is geared toward students, but attorneys and others are welcome to attend. Our focus will be the challenges that arise when non-discrimination requirements collide with our commitment to religious liberty and pluralism. 

Tentative Schedule


Friday, October 18

12:30 -1:30 pm:  Lunch

Is religious freedom essential for diversity and civil rights, or their opposite?

Stephanie Summers, Center for Public Justice
Stanley Carlson-Thies, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance
Michael P. Morleand, Villanova University School of Law

1:30-3:00: Directed Roundtable Discussion with Faculty Facilitators

 Note: Lunch is free to any registered law student; cost is $45 for attorneys and guests. Attorneys must register in advance!

 Saturday, October 19

1:00-2:30 PM

Follow-up Workshops: Join us for deeper discussions carrying forth from Friday’s presentations and discussion, including:

          • Keeping Faith-based Service Organizations Faith-full:  Stanley Carlson-Thies, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance
          • Can Sharia Law be Treated Like Other Religious Accommodations?  James Sonne, Stanford Law School
          • The Enlightenment Didn’t Invent Human Rights:  Zachary Calo, Valparaiso University Law School