Nathan C. Walker


Reverend Nathan C. Walker is the executive director for the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C. where he teaches civic leaders about the guiding principles of the First Amendment that enable Americans to negotiate religious and philosophical differences in the public square with civility and respect.


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.



Reverend Nate is currently the affiliated community minister for religion and public life for the Church of the Larger Fellowship, a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

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).

Research on 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, where he received his Masters of Arts and Masters of Education degrees in higher education administration.

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.

He 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 Encyclopedia, to be published in 2017 by Rowman & Littlefield.  


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 recently partnered with Lyal S. Sunga in publishing 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.