Religion in America, presented by Ken Starr

Alex Wilson

Ken Starr lecturing at UNF. Photo from video by Alex Wilson
Ken Starr lecturing at UNF. Photo from video by Alex Wilson

Former Solicitor General Ken Starr spoke at UNF on Tuesday about religious freedom in America. His seminar “The Conflict over Religion in America” covered topics from the 9/11 attacks to current civic matters.

“I want to celebrate America’s freedoms,”  Ken Starr said. “There is so much violence in the world related to religious animosity; it caused me to go back and reflect on what’s different about America.”

Starr is renowned for being tenured as independent counsel during the Clinton-Whitewater scandal, which later expanded into the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. After years of research, he released the Starr Report. This, along with his investigation, lead to the impeachment trials of Clinton .

Starr is also a respected author and academic, having also served as Dean of Pepperdine University Law School. In his seminar, Starr addressed the blessing of religious peace, reminding his audience not to take it for granted.

Starr said he believes that the key to our religious freedom lies in the U.S. constitutional traditions and values. The first amendment protects practice of religion, and even more modern laws such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 try to prevent religious discrimination.

However, Starr said the biggest obstacle America faces when advancing religious freedom is the lack of civil education.

“I’m finding that the biggest threat is ignorance,” Starr said.

The Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement noted on Jan. 17 that only eight states test their students on American government or civics.

Carlo Fassi, Student Body President, attended the seminar.

“Its really fortunate that the school can bring in such top notch speakers,” Fassi said. “Bravo to Pierre Allaire and Institutional Advancement.”

Starr has acted as a federal judge and Solicitor General underneath George H. W. Bush. He also worked under President Reagan as a judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia from 1983 to 1989. Starr has been the president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas since 2010.

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