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Martin E. Marty, renowned scholar of religion, to lecture at Illinois

4/2/2012 | Dusty Rhodes, Arts and Humanities Editor | 217-333-0568;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN,Ill. — Martin E. Marty – religion scholar, the author of more than 60 books and recipient of the National Humanities Medal – will deliver the annual Marjorie Hall Thulin Lecture in Religion at the University of Illinois on April 12 (Thursday). He will speak on the topic, “Because I Am a Citizen: Religion and the Common Good in Today’s America.”

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Martin E. Marty will deliver the annual Marjorie Hall Thulin Lecture in Religion on April 12. | Photo courtesy University of Chicago.

A Lutheran minister, Marty is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago. He taught for 35 years, chiefly in the Divinity School, where he established and directed the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion. When he retired from teaching in 1998, the institute was rededicated and renamed as the Martin Marty Center. Speakers giving tribute at his retirement dinner included television journalist Bill Moyers, who described Marty as “the most influential interpreter of religion in America,” and television producer Norman Lear – a self-described “New England Jew” – who credited Marty with providing crucial input for the foundation of Lear’s non-profit advocacy group, People for the American Way.

He won the National Book Award for “Righteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America.” He was a columnist and senior editor for Christian Century, an ecumenical biweekly magazine on Christian faith and contemporary life, and he was editor of Context, a newsletter on religion and culture.

He is a past president of the American Academy of Religion, the American Society of Church History, and the American Catholic Historical Association. He served on two U.S. presidential commissions, and as interim president of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

Marty will be interviewed on “Focus” on WILL-AM (580) beginning at 11:06 a.m. on April 10 (Tuesday). Listeners can call in to ask questions or make comments.

The U. of I. lecture is endowed by a fund established by Marjorie Hall Thulin (1910-2009), who graduated from Illinois in 1931 and who had a successful career in advertising. She wrote published poetry and children’s literature, and edited a book on the history of Glencoe, Ill., where she lived. She endowed the lecture fund with the goal of helping students understand how religion functions in a complex society.

The lecture will begin at 8 p.m. April 12 (Thursday) in the Knight Auditorium of Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana. It is free and open to the public. For more information, contact David Price, the head of the department of religion, at


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