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This conference has been filled and the application is now closed.

Co-sponsored by Liberty Fund, Inc., this program is an intellectually demanding and stimulating weekend colloquium that explores the foundations of liberty in a mixture of graduate-level text-based, guided Socratic discussion and lecture sessions. 

This conference on The Sacred Rights of Conscience: The Development of Religious Liberty in America, 1610-1835 will explore a broad historical view of religious liberty in America from the earliest colonial settlements up through the early republic using Liberty Fund’s volume, The Sacred Rights of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American Founding. The volume is uniquely arranged to address central themes about the nature of religious liberty in America and the proper relationship of church and state. What was the nature of religious freedom at America’s conception a notion of rights, of toleration, or something else? How did it influence other aspects of American thinking and ideas about church-state relations? How did such ideas change over time? And, finally, to what extent are those conceptions still viable?

  • This colloquium will consist of 6 guided Socratic discussion sessions.
  • The discussion sessions are text-based and so selected participants are required to prepare appropriately and participate fully in all sessions.
  • Readings will be provided to all accepted participants.
  • This colloquium is for Acton alumni who are currently enrolled or have recently completed graduate level work.

Covid-19 Conference Information

  • The intent is to hold this program in-person with appropriate safety precautions according to the local and federal guidelines. All accepted attendees will be required to follow safe meeting guidelines provided by Acton Institute, which includes wearing a facemask to cover mouth and nose. Individuals not comfortable with meeting in-person, or not able to follow Acton Institute's safe meeting guidelines, should not apply to this program.
  • Should local or federal regulations change, Acton Institute staff will communicate next steps in a timely fashion.
  • Due to the unpredictability of travel restrictions, this program is open to individuals currently living in the USA.

Application Information

  • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the colloquium has been filled.
  • These programs tend to fill quickly, especially as space is limited to 15 attendees.
  • Waiting lists are not maintained for these colloquia. When the program has been filled, the application will be closed.

Event Details

Start Date

End Date


Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
187 Monroe NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
United States

Length of Event

Full details will be provided to accepted participants.

Accepted participants will receive a conference package that includes single-occupancy lodging, meals, and limited travel assistance. There are no fees to attend; participants must apply to attend.

Download Sample Schedule or Frequently Asked Questions.

Learn more about this program >>