Just as it is helpful for universities to think through constitutional aspects of federalism within the context of university governance, it can also be instructive for universities to follow a constitutional approach to secularism within a multifaith university environment. Contrary to popular opinion, the First Amendment does not mandate a “wall of separation” between religion and the state but, rather, prohibits the state from establishing or endorsing one religious tradition over another. According to First Amendment jurisprudence, it is possible for the state to engage with religion in a non-preferential, non-proselytizing capacity and still be considered “secular” in a constitutional context.Read the rest of The spiritual and the scholarly.
Varun Soni serves as Dean of Religious Life of USC. In this role, he brings together the spiritual and scholarly resources of the university, provides moral and ethical leadership for the USC community, and works closely with the 70 student religious groups and the 35 Religious Directors on campus. He is currently completing his Ph.D. through the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and he received his J.D. degree from UCLA School of Law, where he also completed the Critical Race Studies Program and served as the Chief Articles Editor for UCLA's Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law.