Northwood University to Host Lecture on Religion and the Presidency

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The lecture will be held on Tuesday, October 23, at 7 p.m. in Griswold Lecture Hall.

MIDLAND, MI – Northwood University’s Forum for Citizenship and Enterprise, in partnership with the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History, will host a lecture by Dr. Chris Beneke of Bentley University titled “Religion, the Presidency and the Constitution.” Beneke will contrast the Constitution’s explicit rejection of a “religious test” for office with the unofficial test that Americans have used for candidates such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and now Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. The lecture will be held on Tuesday, October 23, at 7 p.m. in Griswold Lecture Hall on Northwood’s Midland campus located at 4000 Whiting Drive. (The community is reminded that the Whiting Road entrance to the campus is closed at Cook Road. Visitors should use the Saginaw Road entrance.) There is no admission charge and members of the community are encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be served afterward.

Dr. Beneke is associate professor of history at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He graduated from Cornell University and earned his Ph.D. at Northwestern University. Beneke is author of Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism (Oxford University Press) and Free Exercise: The First Amendment and America’s Moderate Religious Revolution (forthcoming from Cornell University Press). He is co-editor of The First Prejudice: Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press). Beneke is currently writing a short history of religious tolerance and intolerance in the United States.

Professor Glenn Moots, chair of the philosophy and political science department at Northwood, directs the Forum and commented on the relevance of the lecture. “The authors of the Constitution explicitly rejected a religious test for federal office holders even though such a test was common at the state level. What history has made abundantly clear is that habit and opinion often trump law. Americans have expected their candidates to have certain religious beliefs and they are not reluctant to spread scandalous rumors if they think the candidate’s opinion contrary to what they want. Surprisingly, the issue is more alive in the 2012 presidential election than it has been in many decades.”

Questions about the event may be directed to Professor Glenn A. Moots at 989.837.4255 or


Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.

Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at three full-service, residential campuses located in southern Florida, mid-Michigan and northern Texas. Adult Degree Programs are available in eight states with many course delivery options including an online option. The DeVos Graduate School offers day, evening and weekend programming in Michigan, Texas, Florida and Switzerland. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise in Midland, Michigan, specializes in creative thinking and innovation development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in Switzerland, China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.


The Jack Miller Center (JMC) is a nonpartisan 501 (C) (3) public foundation dedicated to reinvigorating education in America’s Founding Principles and history. The foundation works with college faculty, administrators and donors to improve this essential education for students on campuses across the country. The JMC’s community of professors currently totals 550 on more than 180 campuses, including many of our nation’s leading scholars in American history and political theory. The JMC supports partner programs on 52 campuses, including Ivy League institutions, flagship state universities and leading liberal arts colleges. The JMC is led by its founder and chairman, Jack Miller, a prominent Chicago philanthropist, and its president, Mike Ratliff (Rear Admiral, USN ret.), the former chief of Naval Intelligence. Mr. Miller and Admiral Ratliff began their efforts in higher education in 2004 and incorporated the JMC as an independent foundation in 2007 with headquarters in Philadelphia.