Upcoming Program: Thursday, February 25, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 12 – 1:30 p.m.
Livestream Link

Wesley Lecture

Black Queer Christian Lives Matter: Race, Religion, and Sexuality – an Intersectional Conversation

Rev. Dr. Jay Williams – Senior Pastor at Union Church in Boston

The Annual Wesley Lecture will feature the Rev. Dr. Jay Williams, Senior Pastor at Union Church in Boston. The Rev. Jay (as he is known) is a queer cisgender man and partner to Robert. Williams is known as a charismatic leader and will discuss the deep roots of liberation theology and the Christian church’s difficult and important history of racism and anti-LGBTQIA+ actions. A keynote will be followed by a Q & A session to discuss these important intersections.

This lecture is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice and co-sponsored by the Office of LGBTQ Services, the Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity, and the Department of Religion.

Topic overview written by Rebecca Fox ’22


Rev. Dr. Jay Williams returned to Union Church in Boston as lead pastor on July 1, 2018, having guided this congregation September 2012 – June 2017. An ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, Jay has served congregations in New York City, Boston, and San Francisco, including Glide Memorial.

Williams holds a master of divinity degree with highest honors from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (2009) and the bachelor of arts magna cum laude from Harvard College (2003). In May 2017, Williams received a Ph.D. in the study of religion from the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Williams’s work explores the meaning of “Spirit” in black cultural discourse at the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality: particularly how spirit-talk has been a marginalizing language of power. The dissertation, entitled “Unholy Ghosts in the Age of Spirit: Identity, Intersectionality, and the Theological Horizons of Black Progress,” develops a constructive theology of spirit that rethinks hope, courage, and vitality, premised on insights from W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Howard Thurman. Through his pastoral and academic work, Williams strives to help more disinherited folk find their voices.

Williams, a queer cisgender man, and his partner, Robert, have two crazy yorkie-chihuahuas, Bentley and Hurston.

The Wesley Lecture

The Wesley Lecture grows out of the historical relationship between Dickinson College and the Methodist Church, a relationship that has its roots in the 19th century. The lecture highlights contemporary conversations and controversies in faith communities and in higher education about the importance and role of community, commitment, and service for the education of the citizen-scholar.

Upcoming Program: Thursday, February 25, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

The First Amendment and Epidemics

Eugene Volokh, UCLA School of Law

Under what circumstances can an epidemic justify the government restricting religious worship services?  What about restrictions on other First-Amendment-protected activities, such as protests or political party gatherings?  Volokh will discuss how the Free Exercise Clause, the Free Speech Clause, and the Assembly Clause bear on these questions. This discussion-led presentation will be moderated by Harry Pohlman, professor of political science.

This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Center for Spirituality & Social Justice and the departments of political science and sociology.

Topic overview written by Scout Meredith Best ’21


Eugene Volokh has taught First Amendment law for 25 years at UCLA School of Law; he is the author of the textbooks The First Amendment and Related Statutes (7th ed. 2020) and Academic Legal Writing (5th ed. 2016), as well as over 80 legal journal articles. He is also the founder and coauthor of The Volokh Conspiracy, a Weblog (independent 2002-2014, hosted at the Washington Post 2014-2017, hosted at Reason from 2017).

H. L. Pohlman is the A. Lee Fritschler Professor of Public Policy and professor of political science at Dickinson College. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1982.  Pohlman’s teaching inter­ests include American constitutional law, other law-related courses, and political and legal philosophy. His published works include Terrorism and the Constitution: The Post-9/11 Cases (2008), U.S. National Security Law: An International Perspective (2018), Free Speech and Censorship: Examining the Facts (2019), Voting in America: Examining the Facts (2020), and titles on such subjects as civil rights and liberties, the justice system, and governmental authority and accountability.

Related Links

Liberty of Movement and Assembly (The Volokh Conspiracy)

The Court’s Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo Opinion