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First Things is launching a reading group to discuss classical readings that focus on the proper relationship between church and state. The readings include leading American statements about church and state, arguments from the ancient world, biblical material, and theological analysis from the Catholic and Protestant traditions. We will see how the understanding of the relationship varies with different understandings of the divine and of the purpose of the political community, as well as changing historical conditions.

The reading group will be led by David Gallagher, former professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America. 

The reading group will meet on a Thursday morning of each month (8am-9:30am), starting on October 10, 2019 and ending on June 11, 2020. They will take place at our offices at 9 East 40th Street on the 10th Floor.

Membership in the group will be capped at 20. The fee for the 9 session sequence of seminars will be $600. Limited scholarships are available. For more information email  Readings and light breakfast provided.'

The dates for each reading group are: 

October 10th, November 14th, December 19th, January 16th, February 13th, March 19th, April 16th, May 14th and June 11th.   

Church-State Readings 

  • The American Tradition of Separation
    • James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, excerpts from relevant Supreme Court decisions 
  • Ancient understandings 
    • Plato
  • Scripture
    • Old and New Testament; commentary by Thomas Aquinas
  • Christian stance toward the world and the state
    • Letter to Diognetus, St. Augustine
  • The Christian Empire
    • Constantine, Justinian, Pope Gelasius I, Charlemagne
  • Medieval theory
    • Thomas Aquinas
  • The Christian Commonwealth
    • John Cotton
  • Enlightenment: 
    • John Locke
  • [Coming to terms with] Modernity
    • Pius IX, Leo XIII, Vatican II