April 8, 2013 "The Western Case for Monogamy Over Polygamy" April 30

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From such television shows as “Sister Wives” and “Big Love” to recent National Geographic and New Yorker features, polygamy has become ever more prominent as a curious religious aberration if not an edgy new form of domestic intimacy, according to John Witte Jr., Emory University law professor.

Witte, in a lecture at the Library of Congress, will present “Why Two in One Flesh? The Western Case for Monogamy over Polygamy,” at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30 in Room 119 on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, the lecture is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

Though polygamy remains criminal in every Western nation, and in every American state, there is growing cultural and constitutional pressure to remove these criminal prohibitions, according to Witte. In his lecture, he will discuss the modern arguments for polygamy, explain the two millennia of Western arguments against polygamy, and then weigh whether the classical arguments remain cogent enough today to maintain the Western criminal prohibitions.

Witte—a specialist in legal history, marriage law and religious liberty—is a former Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History at the Kluge Center. At Emory University in Atlanta, Witte is the Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, the McDonald Family Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion.

Witte’s publications include 220 articles, 15 journal symposia and 26 books, including “Religion and Human Rights” (2012); “Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment” (3d ed., 2011); “Christianity and Human Rights” (2012); and “The Sins of the Fathers: The Law and Theology of Illegitimacy Reconsidered” (2009). Witte also edits two major book series, “Studies in Law and Religion” and “Religion, Marriage and Family.” His writings have appeared in 15 languages, and he has given more than 350 public lectures around the world.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 155 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.


PR 13-067
ISSN 0731-3527