In 1802, then-President Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association advocating a "wall of separation between church and state", which led to the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and countless discussions on the nature of such a wall. The discussion continues in this presentation, taped live at the 92nd Street Y, between famed individual rights attorney Alan Dershowitz; Christian cleric and social justice advocate Jim Wallis; and Amy Sullivan, a journalist who focuses on religion and the political left. This conversation takes a deep look into framers’ intentions, the nature of Constitutional interpretation, and how "the wall" has fared. It is also filled with good humor, as when Dershowitz claims he once represented Jesus Christ, only to find the jury was hung.
Explore the relationship between church and state, and the role of faith in politics. Jim Wallis, an evangelical Christian, is a preacher and the author of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the editor of a collection of essays entitled What Israel Means to Me. Amy Sullivan, a contributing editor at The Washington Monthly, is writing a book about religion and the left. Moderator Jon Meacham is the managing editor of Newsweek and the author of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation.