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August 20, 2003

PLACE OF RELIGION IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE DEBATE AT VITERBO 9/9

LA CROSSE, Wis.—An attorney with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), an academician from Baylor University,  and a self-described former-minister-turned- atheist from Madison, will debate "The Place of Religion in the Public Square," in a forum to be held at the Viterbo University Fine Arts Center, Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 7:30 p.m.

The debate, which is free and open to the public, will be moderated by Richard Kyte, director of Viterbo’s D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership which is sponsoring  the event.

"The public understanding over the proper role of religion in American public life has, perhaps, never been so divided," Kyte said. "The difficult questions that have recently faced the City of La Crosse over the placing of the Ten Commandments on public property are also faced by many other communities throughout the country."

The scheduled debaters, all nationally known, should offer the La Crosse audience three very different viewpoints on the issue of separation of Church and State and its effect on the Ten Commandments monument controversy.

Francis Manion is senior counsel with  ACLJ, which is headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va. A graduate of Seton Hall School of Law, Manion, who is based in New Hope, Ky. honed his litigation skills with more than 15 years of experience as a trial attorney in private law firms. He joined the ACLJ in 1996 and specializes in protecting constitutional rights in the public school, the work environment, and the public arena. He has also been active in supporting cases  similar to the one in La Crosse. In those cases, he has defended the rights of government to display the Ten Commandments on public property.

Dan Barker is the public relations director for the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) in Madison, an organization which stridently defends the complete separation of Church and State. The author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, he is a regular contributor to Freethought Today, the foundation’s newspaper. He has participated in more than 35 debates and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue shows and even Pat Robertson’s CBN "Straight Talk." Barker is also a musician who has a library of songs to his credit, many still popular from his days as a minister.

Scott Moore teaches philosophy at Baylor and he is the director of the Great Texts Program for the Waco Texas university. He is the author of The End of Convenient Stereotypes: Extraordinary Politics at the End of Modernity. Students in Moore’s program study the traditions and philosophy of the world’s great artists, musicians, dramatists, and religious thinkers.

The debate is scheduled to run 7:30-9 p.m. and tickets are not required.

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