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The Reverend Dean M. Kelley PDF Print E-mail


The Reverend Dean M. Kelley

June 1, 1926 - May 11, 1997

From his position as Executive for Religious Liberty on the staff of the National Council of Churches (1960-1990) and thereafter in semi-retirement as NCCC Counselor on Religious Liberty until he died, Mr. Kelley defended the religious freedom of groups, no matter how mainline or controversial, and vehemently opposed "deprogramming."

He held the conviction that the threat to the religious freedom of anyone was a threat to all. This led Mr. Kelley, a United Methodist minister clearly committed to his own Christian faith, to go to bat for the First Amendment rights of groups as diverse as the Unification Church, Taos Pueblo Indians, Church of Scientology, Old Order Amish, Christian Scientists, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and mainline Protestants.

He wrote and filed scores of amicus curiae briefs with the US Supreme Court and other courts, offered testimony to Congressional bodies, wrote dozens of articles and several books, gave hundreds of interviews and spoke widely on church-state issues across North America and Europe. When he died, Mr. Kelley was nearing completion of the final edit of a five-volume treatise, The Law of Church and State in America, forthcoming from Greenwood Press. Recently, Mr. Kelley has been concerned about persecution of new religious movements and has written two articles criticizing the government's role in the deaths of more than 90 Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.