The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law’s Faith in Action speaker series held its second lecture of the semester on Tuesday, November 5, featuring guest speaker Kathleen Brady, senior fellow and McDonald Distinguished Fellow at the Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion. Brady spoke thoughtfully on the intersection of law and religion during her lecture entitled Protecting Freedom, Sharing Faith, and Serving Persons.
Brady has dedicated her career to law, religion, and scholarship—honing her insight on the meaning of vocation through years of dedication. Brady shared her path to a holistic understanding of vocation by taking attendees on a chronological journey through her career and highlighting how her Catholic faith molded her work along the way. Brady noted, “Any job is an opportunity for doing justice [and] making peace.” Brady further explained that with each role she took on, her framework for vocation shifted to encompass all of life, not just a series of occupations. As the discussion turned towards national conversations on topics like First Amendment rights and religious freedom clauses, Brady asked attendees to consider how to pursue and protect religious freedom in a way that lives out in faith. She encouraged that while there is difference of opinion, there is also opportunity to see the views on either side of the debate if time is taken to listen to each other’s voices.
As the lecture moved into the Q&A segment, there was further discussion regarding how to navigate conversations surrounding religious freedoms in the face of the adversarial nature of the current political landscape. Brady acknowledged that each side of the conversation has a different idea of how “common well-being” is defined and in moving debated topics forward, “nothing substitutes for actually talking to someone.”
Brady’s scholarship focuses on the First Amendment religion clauses, religion in public life, law and theology, and Catholic social thought. Her publications have appeared in numerous law reviews, and her book The Distinctiveness of Religion in American Law: Rethinking Religion Clause Jurisprudence was the recipient of a book award from the Catholic Press Association in 2016. Brady has held faculty appointments at Villanova University School of Law and University of Richmond School of Law, and in 2011-12 she was the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life at the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.