The Columns

Professor Winnifred Sullivan Will Speak on the Politics of Religious Freedom on Oct. 26

— by on October 16th, 2015

Winnifred F. Sullivan, professor and chair in the department of religious studies at the University of Indiana at Bloomington, will lecture at Washington and Lee University on Oct. 26 at 5:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library, with a reception at 5 p.m. prior to the lecture. Sullivan also is an affiliate professor of law at Maurer School of Law.

Sullivan will speak on the “Politics of Religious Freedom Today: At Home and Abroad” and the lecture is free and open to the public. The talk is sponsored by the Departments of Religion and Politics, the Philip F. Howerton Fund and the Law Center in the School of Law.

Sullivan, who taught in the Religion Department at Washington and Lee from 1995-2000, will examine “the persistent definitional ambiguity at the heart of religious freedom.” This ambiguity, she says, “has created a situation in which these laws, because they can’t be fairly and coherently administered, have become merely expressive. They are, in a sense, no longer law.”

Sullivan is the author of “Chaplaincy, Spiritual Care and the Law” (2014); “Prison Religion: Faith-based Reform and the Constitution” (2009); “The Impossibility of Religious Freedom” (2005); and “Paying the Words Extra: Religious Discourse in the Supreme Court of the United States” (1994).

“Each of earliest three books offers a close reading of the texts of a U.S. religion case using the resources of legal anthropology, socio–legal studies and the academic study of religion,” said Sullivan, “with a view to displaying the multiple and contending models of and discourses about religion.”

Sullivan continued, “My fourth book portrays the chaplain and her ministry as a product of the legal regulation of religion and as a form of spiritual governance.”

She also is co-editor of “Politics of Religious Freedom” (2015); “Varieties of Religious Establishment” (2013); and “After Secular Law” (2011).

Sullivan wrote more than 50 chapters and academic articles; over 30 blog postings; and 20 book reviews. She is the co-editor of the series “Religion and Society” and was co-editor of “Religion and Reason.”

She is a fellow in “Material Economies of Religion in the Americas: Arts, Objects, Spaces, Mediations” at Yale University; had a fellowship at the American Council for Learned Societies; was a fellow at the Guggenheim Foundation; was a fellow at the National Humanities (Lilly Endowment Fellow); and was a visiting scholar at the American Bar Association, among others.

Sullivan received her B.A. from Cornell University and received her J.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.