Ave Maria University Observes Constitution Day

This Wednesday is Constitution Day. On September 17th, 1787 the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, best summed up the significance of the day when he wrote in the first Federalist Paper, “It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, to decide by their conduct and example, the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

To mark Constitution Day a panel of Ave Maria faculty (Dr. Seana Sugrue, Politics; Dr. Michael Breidenbach, History; Dr. John Colman, Politics) will discuss the following question:

“The U.S. Constitution: Christian or Secular?”

The colloquium will discuss the nature of the U.S. Constitution as a Christian or secular document.  The framers of the Constitution were in many respects products of the Enlightenment and its complex understanding of religion.  In some ways the Constitution reflects that complexity as evidenced by the continuing debates over the First Amendment.  Some claim that the Constitution is based on Christian values while others suggest that it is a secular document aimed at reducing religion’s influence on political life.  Is the Constitution Christian or is it informed by a strictly secular understanding of government and society?  Can it be argued that the uniqueness of the Constitution is that it is both secular and Christian?  Is such a thing possible?

The Colloquium will be held in the Demetree Auditorium in the Henkels Academic Building at 5 p.m.

Suggested Readings:

The Constitution (http://www.constitution.org/cons/constitu.htm)
Federalist Papers, No. 10 (http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm)
Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors (http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9syll.htm)
John Courtney Murray, We Hold These Truths:  Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition (London:  Sheed and Ward, 1960), chapter 2 (http://www.library.georgetown.edu/woodstock/Murray/whtt_c2_1954d) and 3 (http://www.library.georgetown.edu/woodstock/Murray/whtt_c3_).  The full book is available at http://www.library.georgetown.edu/woodstock/Murray/whtt_index.