CSLR Talks make innovative, interdisciplinary scholarship accessible to the public. Canopy Forum provides opportunities for emerging and established scholars in the field(s) of law and religion, broadly defined, to present their research in a TED-talk style format. Browse our talks below, or watch them all on YouTube.


Pathways to Gender Equality: Religion-state Relationships and Women’s Rights

Taylor Randleman

Ms. Taylor Randleman graduated magna cum laude with a degree in International Studies and History from Emory College, and is a current JD student at Emory Law School. She has previously worked at Amnesty International, the Center for Law, Economics, and Political Science, and Care USA.

In this talk, Randleman analyzes whether the level of commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) influences effectiveness in increasing global women’s rights and how the relationship between religion and the state may limit the realization of women’s rights. Ultimately, she shows how a greater level of commitment to CEDAW has a positive impact on the realization of women’s rights but that a strong relationship between religion and the state negatively impacts the realization of women’s rights.


The Religion of Race: America’s First Religion

Dr. Audra L. Savage, SJD

Dr. Audra L. Savage, SJD, is the Postdoctoral Fellow in Law, Religion and Human Rights at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion.  Her work examines the law’s effect on the rights of racial and religious minorities, engaging several different fields of study.

Racism is the lingering effect of the American holocaust of slavery. In this talk, Savage argues that the reason for the persistence of racism is embedded in the founding of America.  By compromising on the issue of slavery, the Founding Fathers established a national civil religion based on racism.  In the Religion of Race, whiteness is sacred and blackness is profane.  The Constitution is the sacred text divined by the Supreme Court, who uses the ritual of Law to perpetuate this religion.  The only way to move the country forward and end racial injustice against Black Americans is for a true reformation that sacrifices white privilege in order to reestablish the natural law rights of Black people. 


America First, Border Walls, and Muslim Bans: A Place Based Approach to National Identity

Adam McDuffie

Adam McDuffie is a PhD student in American Religious Cultures at Emory University. Adam received his Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies at Wake Forest University before pursuing a Master of Divinity at Emory’s Candler School of Theology. His current research centers on the intersection of religion and politics, with a particular focus on the unique place of the military in American civil religion.

The surge of white nationalist and anti-immigrant rhetoric during the Trump presidency can be explained through a “place-based” analysis. The reification of American identity by bolstering borders and restricting the means of legitimate entry is a result of changing notions of what constitutes the American “space” in an era of increasing globalization. The growth of fervent white nationalism is an attempt to reverse the perceived shrinking of this American space in an ever more crowded globalizing world.


Taxation and Redistribution: What the Christian Tradition Can Teach Us

Dr. Allen Calhoun

Allen Calhoun’s career has followed parallel tracks in law and theology. After completing seminary, he became a tax lawyer and earned an LL.M. in taxation. He received an M.Th. and then a Ph.D. in theological ethics from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Dr. Calhoun’s Ph.D. project examined taxation from the perspectives of theological ethics and legal history.

Is taxation an instrument of justice or simply a source of revenue? The contemporary American tax discussion vacillates between these two views. In this talk, Calhoun argues that taxation is uniquely positioned to balance competing considerations, such as equity and efficiency, and that this role comes from the Christian tradition.


Our Non-Christian Nation: How Atheists, Satanists, Wiccans and Others are Demanding their Place in American Public Life

Professor Jay Wexler

Jay Wexler is a Professor at the Boston University School of Law, where he has taught law and religion, among other topics, since 2001.  In addition to many scholarly articles, Wexler is the author of five books, including Holy Hullabaloos: A Road Trip to the Battlegrounds of the Church/State Wars and When God Isn’t Green: A World-Wide Journey to Places Where Religious Freedom and Environmentalism Collide.  His sixth book, Our Non-Christian Nation, will be published by Stanford University Press in June 2019.  Professor Wexler tweets @SCOTUSHUMOR.

In the past two decades, the Supreme Court has largely torn down the wall separating church and state, allowing Christians to display monuments on public property, apply for public funds, and pray before town meetings.  At the same time, though, the United States has become more religiously diverse, with a particular increase in the number of people who identify as having no religion.  In this talk, Wexler describes how religious minorities, including atheists, have been demanding to take part in public life alongside Christians and argues that this is a trend that should be celebrated and continued.