Debate: God and Government?
Longmont Area Democrats, and the Colorado Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM (MDT)
RESOLVED: That in the US, the wall separating Church (religious organizations) and State (government) has become eroded and should be strengthened.
A LIVELY DEBATE with esteemed speakers, a historical overview and questions from the audience.
Tickets are FREE, seating is limited. TICKET REQUIRED. Seating starts at 6pm, program at 6:30.
HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION by Professor Ira Chernus of CU/Boulder
PARTICIPANTS ARGUING FOR:
Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Denise Maes, Public Policy Director, ACLU of Colorado
PARTICIPANTS ARGUING AGAINST:
Scott Dunn, Longmont attorney and member of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
Michael J. Norton, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom
DEBATE MODERATED BY:
John Vahlenkamp, Managing Editor, Longmont Daily Times-Call, since 2004. A 1987 graduate of the University of North Texas, Vahlenkamp has worked as a reporter, columnist and editor over his 27 year career. During his time as managing editor, the Times-Call has twice been named by the National Newspaper Association as first in the nation in general excellence among newspapers its size. Vahlenkamp and his family have lived in Longmont since 1999.
BIOGRAPHIES OF THE DEBATERS:
Rev. Barry Lynn has served as executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to the preservation of the Constitution’s religious liberty provisions, since 1992. In addition to his work as a long-time activist and lawyer in the civil liberties field, Lynn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, offering him a unique perspective on church-state issues. He began his professional career working at the national office of the United Church of Christ, including a two-year stint as legislative counsel for the Church's Office of Church in Society in Washington, D.C. From 1984 to 1991 he was legislative counsel for the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union. A member of the Washington, D.C. and U.S. Supreme Court bar, Lynn earned his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1978. In addition, he received his theology degree from Boston University School of Theology in 1973.
Denise Maes is Public Policy Director for ACLU of Colorado, whose tagline is that they are the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy. Of current interest is that the organization is set to appear before the Colorado Supreme Court later this year to challenge the Douglas County school voucher program, claiming that it diverts taxpayer money to religious schools in violation of the Colorado Constitution. ACLU has also filed a brief with the Colorado Supreme Court challenging the Governor’s declaration of an official day of prayer. A former White House Office of Administration General Counsel, Denise Maes returned in November 2011 to work for the ACLU of Colorado. Pronounced one of the Top Seven Women Lawyers by LAW WEEK Colorado in 2009, Denise left the firm of Berenbaum Weinshienk & Eason, where she was partner, to serve as General Counsel for the White House Office of Administration in the Executive Office of President Barack Obama. Later, she directed Budget and Finance operations for the Office of Vice President Joe Biden. A co-founder and former Director of the Colorado Latina Initiative, Denise served as Chair of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Chair of Mi Casa Resource Center for Women, Director of the Downtown Denver Partnership, and as Director of the Colorado Women’s Bar and Hispanic Bar associations.
Scott W. Dunn is a Partner with the law firm of Flanders, Elsberg, Herber & Dunn, LLC, in Longmont, Colorado, where he has practiced since 1995. He previously served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate Generals’ Corps. He currently is on the Board of Directors of the John Paul II Adventure Institute, a Colorado organization that is involved with Camp Wojtyla Catholic summer camp and JP II Outdoor Lab environmental education program. He previously hosted the radio program “Rome in the Rockies” on KPIO Catholic radio. Scott is a member of the Bar of the State of Colorado, Federal District Court of Colorado and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. He earned his Juris Doctor from the Catholic University of America in 1991 and graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a B.A. in History and Political Science in 1988.
Michael J. Norton has more than 30 years of legal experience reducing crime and promoting family values in both the public and private sectors. He serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom at its Regional Service Center in Colorado, where he plays an integral role on the Center for Life. Committed to religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage, Norton was an allied attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom for 16 years before devoting his talents full-time on staff in 2011. He is currently the lead attorney in safeguarding life and uncovering the health care frauds of abortion providers. Before joining Alliance Defending Freedom, Norton was an attorney with the Denver law firm of Burns Figa & Will, P.C., where he built a reputation as a tough litigator in complex civil and criminal litigation. Among his many accomplishments, he was responsible for drafting the language for the 2006 Colorado Marriage Amendment that is now enshrined in the state’s constitution.
Norton was appointed the United States Attorney for the District of Colorado by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 and was reappointed by President George H.W. Bush. As U.S. Attorney to mid-1993, Norton was the chief federal law enforcement officer for the State of Colorado and directed the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal and civil justice priorities, including investigations and prosecutions of organized crime in narcotics and dangerous drug distributions, environmental crimes, financial crimes, child pornography, and securities fraud. Before serving as U.S. Attorney, Norton was the U.S. General Services Administration Director of Congressional Affairs from 1969 to 1972 and, from 1972 to 1976, the Region 8 Administrator for the six-state Rocky Mountain region.
Norton served eight years as a member and chair of the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline. He was on the Board of Governors of the Colorado Bar Association and was a member of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Judicial Code Commission. His other public service includes membership on the governor of Colorado’s Law Enforcement Council, the governor’s Energy Task Force, the governor’s Military Affairs Advisory Council, and the Business Advisory Council of the University of Denver’s College of Business Administration. In 2000 and 2004, Norton was Colorado Counsel to the George W. Bush for President Campaign. He also served on the board of directors of Colorado Family Action and “Punts with a Purpose” founded by former National Football League punter Mike Horan. He currently serves on the board of directors of And Then There Were None, the pro-life ministry of Abby Johnson.
Norton earned his J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., in 1968. He received a B.A. in economics from Colgate University in 1960 and a Masters of Divinity from Denver Seminary in 2009. Norton began practicing law in 1975 and is admitted to the bars of Colorado, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. He is also admitted to federal courts in Colorado and has been admitted pro hoc vice to federal courts in Nebraska, Iowa, Texas, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington State. He lives in Englewood, Colorado with his wife Jane who served as Colorado’s 46th Lieutenant Governor from 2003 to 2007.