Baylor’s Department of Religion Presents Lecture on Baptists and Religious Freedom

March 20, 2015
Bill Leonard

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WACO, Texas (March 20, 2015) – Baylor University’s department of religion in the College of Arts & Sciences will welcome church historian Bill Leonard, Ph.D., to present a lecture at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, in Kayser Auditorium.

His lecture, titled “Sex, Class, and Religious Liberty: Daniel Featley vs. The Early Baptist,” will discuss the beliefs of Featley, an Anglican strongly opposed to the existence of early Baptists.

“Leonard will describe how Featley caricatured Baptists in the 1640s,” said Doug Weaver, Ph.D., professor of religion in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences and director of undergraduate studies in the department of religion. “Baptists were a religious minority who were not afforded religious liberty. He will discuss the ways in which Baptists advocated for religious liberty, going against Featley’s desires.”

Leonard is the James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and professor of church history at Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity. His research focuses particularly on American religion, Baptist studies and Appalachian religion. His most recent publication is titled “A Sense of the Heart: A History of Religious Experience in the United States.”

“The need for religious freedom is in the news every day now, and I think students are probably not aware of the Baptist heritage this school was built upon,” Weaver said. “Baptists have spoken very loudly for religious freedom.”

Leonard is an ordained Baptist minister and writes twice-monthly columns for Baptist News Global (formerly the Associated Baptist Press). He received his B.A. from Texas Wesleyan University, M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist University and Ph.D. from Boston University. He has held positions at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Samford University and Seinan gakuin University in Fukuoka, Japan.

The Baptist Studies Center for Research and Baylor department of religion are sponsoring the lecture, which is free and open to the public.

Kayser Auditorium is located inside Hankamer School of Business at 1428 S. Fifth St.

For more information about the department of religion, click here.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 24 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit

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