2012 Allen-Head Lectures

The Use of Religion in Presidential Elections

Austin College will host its annual Allen-Head Lectures on Tuesday, October 9, featuring Jacques Berlinerblau, director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He will present two lectures, both free and open to the public.

Berlinerblau’s first lecture, “The Use of Religion in the 2008 and 2012 Presidential Elections,” will be held at 11 a.m. in Hoxie Thompson Auditorium of Sherman Hall. He completed significant study on the topic in writing his book, Thumpin’ It: The Use and Abuse of the Bible in Today’s Presidential Politics, published in 2008.

“Secularism: What Is It and Is It Dead?” will be the topic for the second lecture at 7 p.m. in Mabee Hall of Wright Campus Center.

The speaker joined the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service faculty in 2005. He previously spent 10 years at Hofstra University in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, serving as director of Jewish studies and teaching in comparative literature and languages, then later in religious studies. He also had teaching experience in religious studies at Drew University.

Berlinerblau has published on a wide variety of issues, including the composition of the Hebrew Bible, the sociology of heresy, modern Jewish intellectuals, and African-American and Jewish-American relations. His articles on these and other subjects have appeared in Biblica, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Semeia, Biblical Interpretation, Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages, Hebrew Studies, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and History of Religions.

In addition to the 2008 book on the use of religion in political campaigns (Thumpin’ It), Berlinerblau has published four other books, Heresy in the University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibility of American Intellectuals (Rutgers University Press), The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously (Cambridge University Press), The Vow and the “Popular Religious Groups” of Ancient Israel: A Philological and Sociological Inquiry (Sheffield Academic Press); and, most recently, How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Berlinerblau earned a doctorate in ancient Near Eastern languages and literatures from New York University in 1991 and a doctorate in sociology from The New School for Social Research in 1999. He also earned master’s degrees in sociology and Hebrew and Judaic studies and a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

The Allen-Head Lectures, established at Austin College by an endowment gift in 1985 in memory and celebration of E.T. Allen, Sr., and Mary Bell Anderson Allen, Mr. and Mrs. E.T. Allen, Jr., and Mr. and Mrs. R.B. Head, Jr., of Whitesboro, Texas. The lectures feature nationally prominent speakers in the areas of religion, philosophy, psychology, history, and literature.

Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the college is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives.