Dead Letter or Living Document?

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn '70

Advocate for Separation of Church and State to Deliver Constitution Day Lecture

Activist, analyst and civil-liberties lawyer the Rev. Barry W. Lynn ’70 will explore the challenges in interpreting the U.S. Constitution during a lecture at Dickinson. The Constitution Day Address, “Celebrating a Dead Letter or a Living Document,” will be held Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Anita Tuvin Schlechter (ATS) Auditorium and is available online via live stream.

Lynn will examine the difficulties in interpreting the original intent of the framers of the Constitution and alternate approaches to what the Constitution means in the 21st century. He also will explore proposals for changing the nature of the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, and the dangers of seeking to hold a new constitutional convention.

Lynn is the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based advocacy group. In addition to his work as an activist and lawyer in the civil-liberties field, Lynn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He began his professional career as legislative counsel for the Church’s Office of Church in Society and for the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Lynn has appeared on national television and radio broadcasts to offer analysis of First Amendment issues. He also has written articles on religious liberty issues for USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Nation.  He is the author of Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault On Religious Freedom, and co-author of First Freedom First: A Citizen’s Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State. His latest book, God & Government: Twenty-Five Years of Fighting for Equality, Secularism, and Freedom of Conscience was published in 2015.

Lynn earned his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and his theology degree from Boston University School of Theology.

The annual Constitution Day Address was endowed by a former Dickinson Trustee Winfield C. Cook. Each year, a prominent speaker discusses a contemporary constitutional issue. This event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues, Penn State’s Dickinson Law and the Churchill Fund. It is also part of the Clarke Forum’s Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty Series.

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Published August 25, 2016