Religious Studies
in the Department of Philosophy and Religion

William Hal Furr Dialogue on Religion Foundation


The William Hal Furr Dialogue on Religion Foundation sponsors forums that explore salient issues in religious ethics and religion and politics.  These forums, which feature scholars with relevant expertise, mirror the academic interests and pluralistic orientation of the late William Hal Furr, who taught philosophy and religion at the University of Mississippi from 1965 to 1974.  Previous speakers sponsored by the Furr Foundation include: Peter Van Inwagen (University of Notre Dame), Michael A. Sells (University of Chicago Divinity School), Martha Ward (University of New Orleans), Eddie Glaudie (Princeton University), John Robert Hook (University of Buffalo [SUNY]), Marie Griffith (Washington University), Lisa Roy (University of Mississippi School of Law), and Kathleen Moore (University  of California, Santa Barbara).  Some past forums involved themes other than religious ethics and politics.

Hal Furr received his Ph.D. in religion at Temple University, 1971, and earlier he had earned his B.D. and M.D. (Divinity) from Crozer Theological Seminary.  His dissertation at Temple, An Introduction to the Thought of H. Richard Niebuhr, reflected his own academic concentration in religious ethics, as well as in 19th and 20th century Protestant thought.  Pedagogically, Furr’s encouragement of pluralism and robust discussion typified his classrooms.

The Furr Dialogue presupposes a wide range of potential topics regarding religiously-based moral values.  Such forums could examine the nature and impact of, as well as the source for, values, whether from a Christian or non-christian perspective.  The scope of values under consideration includes both the private and public spheres: some values concern such issues as sexuality and the nature of family; while others relate to poverty, civil rights, war and peace, and so forth.  Programs involving the public square can explore the role of government, if any, in promoting religious values whether in domestic or international arenas: should government base its policies upon religious values and, if so, to what extent? In the most recent forum (held April 16, 2015) one panelist (Roy) examined the U.S. Supreme Court Case Hobby Lobby vs. Burwell (2014) while the second (Moore) discussed American Muslim perspectives on Islamic Law.

Hal Furr believed that there are a myriad of viewpoints concerning religion.  What unites the participants and attendants of any Furr forum is the belief that the examination of religious values is worth pursuing.  For some, such a pursuit can elucidate some of the forces that shape a culture; for others, it can provide normative insights and guidance.  This common focus by the Furr Dialogue is redolent of what the religious scholar Harvey Cox once said about what the students of Harvard University Divinity School share; namely, they agree on the importance of certain religious questions even though they may disagree on the answers.

If you are interested in providing support for the Furr Dialogue, more information can be found at


2016 Hal Furr Dialogue : October 27th, Overby Auditorium

“The Ethics of Distributive Justice: Two Christian Views”

James P. Bailey (Duquesne University) & Jamin Hübner (John Witherspoon College)


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