Harry Reid at UVa

We would like to make our viewers aware of a significant event at the University of Virginia next weekend. Under the auspices of the Mormon Studies chair, the University is sponsoring the first of the Joseph Smith lectures on religious liberty. The initial speaker will be Senator Harry Reid, Senate Democratic Leader. The lecture will be held on Saturday September 26 at 2:00 p.m. in the University of Virginia’s Newcomb Hall Theater. Parking is available in the Bookstore garage immediately behind Newcomb Hall.

The conversation will be comprised largely of questions from the audience.

The event is free and open to the public but admission is by ticket which can be reserved at the University of Virginia arts box office. The basic information is as follows:

The Joseph Smith Lecture on Religious Liberty

The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia presents the Joseph Smith Lecture on Religious Liberty, featuring Senator Harry Reid on Saturday, September 26, in the Newcomb Hall Theatre in Charlottesville.

To assure admission, reserve seats (two per order) by going to: http://artsandsciences.virginia.edu/boxoffice/

Seating is by general admission, so early arrival is encouraged. Doors open at 1 p.m. Tickets not claimed by 1:50 p.m. will be released to patrons in the standby line.


  1. Very cool. Thanks for sharing the announcement.

  2. It would be interesting, for those who can,t be there, to hear what Harry Reid’s take on the state of religious freedom in America is. Can someone report please?

  3. .

    I would also like to know how the students approached him.

  4. So, is Sen. Reid, who support abortion and blocks protection for innocent life a faithful Mormon?

  5. Shut up, Michael.

  6. Thank you Steve Evans

  7. BlueRidgeMormon says:

    All – others may be able to give a more detailed account, but I attended both the Reid event and the smaller reception afterward. Here’s a quick summary.

    Reid event: excellent for Sis. Flake to have such a high profile guest for the “Joseph Smith Lecture”. That said, it (of course) wasn’t much of a lecture, per se – – very different, in other words, from Kathleen’s inaugural lecture last year, in which she talked about Joseph Smith and Thomas Jefferson. (Not sure when that essay will be published, but it is excellent.) Reid and Flake started out with a few questions/responses. In general I found Kathleen erudite at asking and Reid was slow to get going – almost terse at first. Eventually he warmed up and the bulk of the time was spent by individuals asking questions. They seemed to come in three flavors: 1) religious studies students asking conceptual “religious freedom” questions, 2) law students asking detailed policy/legislative questions, and 3) a grab bag of other questions, mostly from local Mormons.

    Much of the first 30 minutes or so wasn’t particularly Mormonism-centric, nor was it that religion-centric. Mostly about legislative process (the importance of compromise etc) and questions about collegiality and the like. It could have been a generic forum at a law school. Eventually he touched on some religious freedom issues, but mostly the responses seemed to be camera-ready and light on specifics. Some questions were more personal in nature (like mine, which was about how his Mormonism informs his legislative/professional life), but his answer after a long pause was (essentially) that he prays a lot. Anyhow, all in all it was interesting, and there were cameras rolling, so perhaps it will be made available in some format down the road.

    Afterward, the private reception was perhaps even more interesting. Richard Bushman, Richard Turley, and Elder Christofferson were all in attendance and each gave some remarks. Bushman about the event and Kathleen’s work, Turley on the idea of “mormon studies” in general, and Christofferson with a hearty endorsement of the whole thing and a keen insight on the difference between “agreement” and “understanding”.