Religion & the Constitution: A podcast

Professor Jerry Dunklee spent Spring 2017 on sabbatical, researching religious freedom and recording podcasts on the topic.

Two of the podcasts can be heard below.

First, Dunklee gives a brief history of religion in the United States, from early settlers, the Revolution, the creation of the First Amendment, the Civil War and the attempt at the Blaine Amendment in 1879. This episode includes the Supreme Court Mormon Polygamy case in 1878.


In the second episode, Dunklee speaks with guest Lyle Denniston, a journalist who has covered the Supreme Court for decades.

The discussion covers the failure of the federal Blaine Amendment(1879), why the dislike of Catholics motivated it, the subsequent amendments to state constitutions and the impact of the Trinity Lutheran case in June 2017 on the issues.

Photo at top shows Dunkee next to the textbook, The Power of Free Expression in America, which chronicles the First Amendment. Dunklee and Harris wrote the textbook for the Southern Journalism course, The Media: Freedom & Power.

To hear other episodes, click play on the files below:

#3: Wenger.

Prof. Tisa Wenger-Yale Divinity School discusses discrimination against Native American religions and the process of adopting the First Amendment to their spiritual practices.

#4: Establishment & Free Exercise

Dan Barrett, CT ACLU, discusses the distribution of religious literature, Cantwell V. CT., and public schools having graduation ceremonies in a church.

#5: Employment Law

Atty. Bernard Jacques, of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, Hartford, and adjunct professor at UCONN Law School, discusses religion and the workplace.

#6: Public Accommodations

Atty. Sasha Samberg-Champio of Relman, Dane & Kolfax, in Washington, D.C. discusses  public accommodation in relation to the First Amendment.


Atty. Karla Chaffee, of Robinson & Cole in Boston, along with Mujahid Farid, lead organizer for the Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) Campaign in New York, discuss The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.


More discussion on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, this time with Atty. Roman Storzer, of Storzer and Associates in Washington, D.C.

#9: Military Chaplains and Official Prayer

Jerry Dunklee talks about how, under the First Amendment religion clauses, the U.S. military can provide chaplains. Discussion of the court cases and tradition that permit prayer as part of official government meetings.

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