2:00 p.m. Sunday, July 23, 2017
First Amendment program

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The Betty Strong Encounter Center will present “The First Amendment Under Fire: The Alien and Sedition Crisis of 1798-1800” with Dr. Scott Culpepper at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 23. Admission will be free; a reception will follow.

“The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 provided one of the most formidable early challenges to the protection of First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press enshrined in our Bill of Rights,” says Dr. Culpepper, a Dordt College professor of history.

These acts were passed during a period of tense relations with France, sometimes called the “Quasi-War.” They imposed limitations on freedom of expression and immigration that were considered necessary for national security by supporters of the legislation.

“Opponents of the measures attacked them as fundamental assaults on the essential foundations of American democracy. Some journalists and political leaders endured jail time as well as financial penalties due to their defiance of the Alien and Sedition Acts,” says Culpepper.

Culpepper will explore the personalities involved, positions argued, persecutions suffered, and lessons learned from this divisive period of our history when Americans were just beginning to define the nature and scope of our First Amendment.  

Culpepper’s teaching and research interests are the Atlantic world and American history, with particular emphasis on the intersection of faith, politics and popular culture. He is the author of “Francis Johnson and the English Separatist Influence: The Bishop of Brownism’s Life, Ministry, and Controversies” (Mercer University Press, 2011).

Culpepper holds a Ph.D. in Religion and Church/State Studies from Baylor University; a Master of Arts in History from Northwestern State University of Louisiana; a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in historical and theological studies from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; and Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Religious Education from Louisiana College.