Many participants of the conference have written their reflections in our Schempp Blog.

photo of Jonathan Sheehan

Sarah Barringer Gordon, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, in "The Christian Century"

Leslie Ribovich, PhD candidate, Princeton University, “In Values We Trust: Doe v. Porter and Moral Education After Schempp

Tim Ruckle, PhD candidate, University of California, Berkeley, “The Seattle Bible Trial of 1966 after Schempp, from Right-wing Resistances to Ironic Inversions.”

Hayley Craigmiles, Religious Studies major, University of Missouri

Sarah Dees, PhD Candidate, Indiana University

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Schempp conference

Schempp Conference at Indiana University

From September 27th through 29th, Indiana University Bloomington welcomed 75 scholars and students of religion to a conference entitled “Religious Studies 50 Years after Schempp: History, Institutions, Theory,” a weekend-long conversation on the legacy of the 1963 Abington v Schempp decision (374 U.S. 203). Although the Schempp decision concerned the teaching of religion in elementary schools, the ruling has been regarded as formative for the development of Religious Studies departments in public colleges and universities. Participants in the Schempp Conference engaged in lively discussions on law and religion, religion in public schools, methods and theories in the study of religion, and the history of the academic study of religion. Plenary speakers included scholar of religion and law Sarah Barringer Gordon, historian of South Asian religion Gerald J. Larson, and scholar of African American religion Charles Long. Fourteen scholars presented papers on the study of religion in public schools and universities. On Sunday, representatives from Religious Studies departments at state universities participated in an afternoon workshop. Initially conceived of by David Haberman and brought to fruition by Winnifred Sullivan with the help of Sarah Imhoff, the Schempp Conference provided an important opportunity to reflect on the institutional history of the academic study of religion.

For a full conference schedule please click here

Schempp conference

Three plenary speakers focused our conversations. Find exerpts of their conversations below.

Sarah Barringer Gordon, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Gordon is a widely recognized scholar and commentator on religion in American public life and the law of church and state. Her insightful blog on the conference can be read in The Christian Century.

Gerald J. Larson, Rabindranath Tagore Professor Emeritus of Indian Cultures and Civilization, Indiana University, Bloomington, and Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. Larson, a prominent scholar of Indian religious traditions who helped to shape the study of religion at the University of Tennessee, UC Santa Barbara, and Indiana University, offered reflections on the place of the study of Asian religions in the academic study of religion.

Charles H. Long, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at UC Santa Barbara, and former professor of religion at the University of Chicago, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke University, and Syracuse University. Long, a distinguished historian of religion and leading scholar in the study of American religion, had a direct influence on the development of the academic study of religion in the latter part of the twentieth century.


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