October 30, 2015 John Witte to Discuss the Lasting Impact of the Protestant Reformation

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jason Steinhauer (202) 707-0213

Distinguished legal scholar John Witte Jr. will present a lecture on the effects of the Protestant Reformation still being felt today in Western society. Witte is the current Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the North at the Library of Congress.

Witte will speak at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5 in room 119 on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

The lecture will mark the conclusion of Witte’s four-month residency at The John W. Kluge Center. During his residency, Witte has used the immense resources of the Library of Congress to research a series of volumes on “Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Reformation.” The aim of the series is to give a systematic account of what happened to the ideas and institutions of law and politics as a consequence of the tremendous changes in theology and church life brought on by the Reformation, and what the enduring values of those changes are for church, state, and society even today.

“The Protestant Reformation transformed not only theology and the church but also law and the state,” says Witte. “Drawing on new biblical and classical learning, Protestant theologians and jurists brought sweeping changes to constitutional order, criminal law, family law, and the laws of education and social welfare. This lecture, offered in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation, explores the Reformation’s enduring impact, for better or worse, on Western life, law, and learning.”

Witte is a specialist in legal history, marriage law and religious liberty. His publications include 220 articles, 15 journal symposia and 27 books. Currently the Robert W. Woodruff University Professor of Law; th Alonzo L. McDonald Family Distinguished Professor; and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion—all at Emory University—Witte has formerly been in residence at the Kluge Center as the Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History and as a distinguished visiting scholar. He currently serves on the Library of Congress Scholars Council.

The Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the North is a distinguished senior research position in residence at the Library appointed by the Librarian of Congress. Using research facilities and services at the Library of Congress, the scholar is expected to explore the history of the regions of North America, Europe, Russia and East Asia, using the immense foreign-language collections in the specialized reading rooms of the Library.

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 more information about the Kluge Center visit loc.gov/kluge/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s first-established federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 160 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 loc.gov.


PR 15-197
ISSN 0731-3527