About

Nathan C. Walker

Reverend Nathan C. Walker (M.Div., Ed.M., M.A.) is executive director of 1791 Delegates. Named after the year the Bill of Rights was ratified, 1791 Delegates are constitutional and human rights experts that work on issues of religion and public life.

Nate previously served as executive director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington, DC.

  • In its first two years of the center’s operation, Nate helped generate over $2,000,000 in revenue – 96% of which came from new sources.
  • He helped recruit and provided executive direction for a dynamic team of 40 professionals who, together, built from scratch a national Religious Liberty Education program.
  • By the third semester, the center admitted students from 15 different states who expressed 25 different religious identities—61% of whom identified as people of color.
  • By the fourth semester, the center offered nine semester-long, graduate courses for public school teachers and education leaders that were accredited through the center’s partner schools.

Nate is currently building upon these experiences in deploying 1791 Delegates to equip organizations to effectively address issues of religion and public life.

Teaching

While at the Religious Freedom Center, Nate served as a curriculum designer and instructor of the following graduate courses:

  • REL 100 Foundations of Religious Liberty, which explored the development of the religious liberty principles of the First Amendment from the nation’s colonial and founding periods to the mid-20th century;
  • REL 400 The Human Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief, which examined rule of law strategies on issues of religion and human rights; and
  • REL 500 Capstone Projects, in which students researched, designed, and implemented projects with the goal of engaging religious communities and civic organizations in their region.

In the summer and fall terms of 2015, he taught undergraduate students about the importance of religious literacy in his courses on Religions of the World and Introduction to the Bible through the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Rowan University.

Ministry

Reverend Nate is a Unitarian Universalist minister and has been serving as the affiliated community minister for religion and public life for the Church of the Larger Fellowship since 2014.

He received his Master of Divinity degree in religion and education from Union Theological Seminary.

For fifteen years, Walker served urban congregations in a variety of capacities in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, the last seven as the Senior Minister and Executive Director of the historic First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia (2007 to 2014).

Law & Religion

Walker previously served as a resident fellow at Harvard Divinity School where he studied legal restrictions on religious expression.

Walker is currently an advanced doctoral candidate in Law, Education, and Religion at Teachers College Columbia University. He is currently in the final stages of his dissertation, The Constitutionality of State Bans on Public Schoolteachers’ Religious Garb in Pennsylvania and Nebraska Under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution–where he asks whether public school teachers should leave their religious dress, marks, and emblems at the schoolhouse gate.

Walker applies this research in the chapter, A Legal Approach to Questions about Religious Diversity, published by Oxford University Press. He contributed six encyclopedia entries in Charles J. Russo, ed., Religion in American Education: A Legal Encyclopediato be published in 2018 by Rowman & Littlefield. He is currently preparing the chapter “Religion and Political Tolerance” for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics & Religion.

Administration

Nate received his Masters of Arts degree in higher education administration and his and Masters of Education degree in higher education finance from Teachers College Columbia University.

For the last twelve years, Nate has provided executive direction of non-profit organizations, where he administered annual budgets ranging from one- to two-million dollars.

Books

In his first solo-authored book, Exorcising Preaching: Crafting Intellectually Honest Worship (Chalice Press 2014), Reverend Nate delivers an urgent call to expel unhealthy practices from sermons, liberating the preacher and the people. He reflects on ways to replace harmful habits with healing disciplines that reawaken the craft of preaching.

In his most recent book, Cultivating Empathy: The Worth and Dignity of Every Person—Without Exception (Skinner House 2016), Reverend Nate explores the concept of the moral imagination—a way we can project ourselves into a conflict and understand all perspectives, aware that understanding need not imply agreement.

Coedited Volumes

Walker is the co-editor with Edwin J. Greenlee of Whose God Rules? Is the United States a Secular Nation or a Theolegal Democracy? (Palgrave Macmillan 2011). The book débuted Walker’s theory “theolegal democracy”—an analysis of a political system that permits, rewards, and encourages officials to use theology to make law without formally establishing a state religion. Contributors included Alan Dershowitz, Martha Nussbaum, Kent Greenawalt, and Robby George. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote the foreword and Cornel West calls the book “provocative and pioneering.”

Walker is currently co-editing with Michael D. Waggoner the Oxford Handbook on Religion and American Education, with the foreword by Martin E. Marty and contributing chapters by Diana Eck, John Witte Jr., Eboo Patel, and other distinguished scholars.

Human Rights Policy Report

Walker collaborated with Lyal S. Sunga in writing a policy report for the International Development Law Organization titled, Promoting and Protecting the Universal Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief through Law: Current Dilemmas and Lessons Learned.

The project was commissioned and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the Italian Republic and presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland in March 2014.