God in America: The First Amendment Center Discussion

We hope you’ve been enjoying the landmark six-hour/three-day series God in America, which concludes tonight with hours five and six and is also available to view online.

A program like God in America is ripe for discussion, and we held two screenings of segments from the documentary prior to its broadcast, at Lipscomb University and the First Amendment Center, to get people engaged and talking about it. Following the screening of the second hour at the First Amendment Center in Nashville hosted by Vanderbilt Divinity School, we gathered some of the brightest minds in religion and First Amendment studies to discuss the concepts and issues raised in the documentary. It’s a fascinating discussion that we think adds a great deal to the series. A listing of panelists follows the video link. Be sure to let us know what you think of the series and the discussion.


DR. KATHLEEN FLAKE – Professor Flake researches the strategies by which religious communities maintain a sense of fidelity to an originating vision, while changing over time. Consequently, her particular research interests are in the constructive uses of narrative and ritual by modern religious communities. She teaches courses in American religious history and in the interaction of American religion and law. Prior to her appointment at Vanderbilt Divinity School, Professor Flake was a litigation attorney in Washington, D.C., having received her J.D. from the University of Utah and her B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.

DR. DENNIS DICKERSON – Dennis C. Dickerson specializes in American Labor History, the History of the U. S. civil rights movement, and African American religious history. He also is interested in the social history of American medicine and Wesleyan Studies. He has written Out of the Crucible: Black Steel Workers in Western Pennsylvania, 1875-1980 (Albany, State University of New York Press, 1986) which chronicles the failed century long struggle of black steel laborers to attain occupational parity with their Caucasian counterparts. He also wrote Militant Mediator: Whitney M. Young, Jr. (Lexington, University Press of Kentucky, 1998) which analyzes the leadership of a major leader in the U. S. civil rights movement in the 1960s. This book was awarded the 1999 Distinguished Book from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. Dickerson’s new book, African American Preachers and Politics: The Careys of Chicago (Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 2010) examines the intersection between religion and politics in the careers of two clergy/politicians during most of the 20th century. He has received grants and fellowships to support his research and writing from the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Louisville Institute.

SABINA MOHYUDDIN – Sabina Mohyuddin was born and raised in Nashville where she earned by B. E. in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University. She’s been active in interfaith dialogue both among adults and youths. She is married with 4 children, three of whom she homeschooled up until the 8th grade. She currently live in Tullahoma.

DR. MARTY BELL – Dr. Bell is the church historian in the School of Religion, having taught eighteen years at Belmont. He has a B.A. in religion and history from Belmont, an M.Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. In addition to the various courses he teaches in the history of Christianity, he is a trained spiritual director with deep interests in contemplative spiritual disciplines.

DAVID HUDSON – David L. Hudson, Jr. is a scholar at the First Amendment Center. Hudson writes for firstamendmentcenter.org and for other publications devoted to First Amendment issues. He is the author or co-author of 20 books, including several on the U.S. Supreme Court, the Constitution and student rights.

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