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A once abandoned
treatise on religious liberty|
is posted on line in five historic volumes
The NCC's expert Dean M. Kelley
died before editing was complete
New York, April 27, 2009 -- When the Rev. Dean M. Kelley died on May 11, 1997, the loss was devastating for proponents of religious liberty.
Kelley, who served as Executive for Religious Liberty of the National Council of Churches from 1960 to 1990, was a nationally recognized expert in the field who had defended the rights of such diverse groups as the Unification Church, Taos Pueblo Indians, Church of Scientology, Old Order Amish, Christian Scientists, Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims and mainline Protestants.
"When Dean Kelley died, an enormous amount of knowledge and experience died with him," said Wesley M. "Pat" Pattillo, the NCC's Senior Program Director for Justice and Advocacy and Communication. "Now, a remarkable publishing venture will make much of that knowledge accessible again for all religious groups working their way through First Amendment issues and church-state controversies."
Among the intellectual treasures lost when Kelley died was a five-volume treatment on religious liberty in the U.S. that Kelley had been working on for 20 years when he fell ill with cancer. He completed the writing before he died, but the publisher abandoned the project when the task of updating developments in state law for the book became overwhelming.
Now, in a collaborative venture with the NCC's Committee on Religious Liberty, the First Amendment Center has made Kelley's five-volume The Law of Church and State in America available on line.
“The opportunity for online publication rescued a masterpiece from oblivion,” write the members of the manuscript committee, who brought Kelley’s work to its present form. Lenore Hervey, Kelley’s only child and the copyright holder, agreed to provide the work freely for online use. The First Amendment Center agreed to make the work available on its site. The book’s chapters are posted as PDFs.
"Kelley's work at the Council was extraordinary and historic," said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC General Secretary. "Thanks to the First Amendment Center, this once-lost work is now available to a new generation of people who value their freedom to practice their religion as they are led by their faith and intellect."
“As the long-time director of civil and religious liberty at the National Council of Churches of Christ, the Rev. Dean Kelley was one of the most effective advocates for religious freedom of his era,” said Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center, a project of the Washington-based Freedom Forum, which also operates the Newseum, a major exposition center on Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation's capital. “This monumental work on the law of church and state reflects both his deep knowledge of the issues and his extraordinary ability to provide a lively, informed account of case law central to understanding the relationship between religion and government in America.”
Kelley’s book covers a range of topics. In the author’s own words:
The NCC Committee on Religious Liberty assigned the year-long publishing task to a manuscript committee, chaired by Sharon Worthing Vaino, a member of the editorial council of the Journal of Church and State. Members included Hervey and Haynes as well as Richard Foltin, American Jewish Committee; Rev. N. J. (Skip) L’Heureux Jr., Queens Federation of Churches; Wesley (Pat) Pattillo, National Council of Churches; and Rev. Charles M. Whelan, Fordham University School of Law.
NCC News contact: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) , firstname.lastname@example.org
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