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Francis Beckwith, Ph.D. - Baylor University . Waco, TX, US

Francis Beckwith, Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies, Affiliate Professor of Political Science | Baylor University


Nationally recognized philosopher and legal expert in the areas of religion, jurisprudence, politics and ethics.



Francis Beckwith, Ph.D. Publication Francis Beckwith, Ph.D. Publication Francis Beckwith, Ph.D. Publication Francis Beckwith, Ph.D. Publication Francis Beckwith, Ph.D. Publication



Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and church-state studies, Baylor University loading image Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and church-state studies, Baylor University, meets with Pope Francis loading image Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and church-state studies, Baylor University loading image



Unpacking Philosophy & Religion Taking rites seriously with Francis Beckwith


Francis J. Beckwith, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies at Baylor University, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Philosophy and Co-Director of the Program on Philosophical Studies of Religion in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR).

With his appointment in Baylor’s Department of Philosophy, he also teaches courses in medical humanities, political science, religion, and church-state studies. From July 2003 through January 2007, he served as the Associate Director of Baylor’s J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies.

A graduate of Fordham University (Ph.D. and M.A. in philosophy), he also holds the Master of Juridical Studies (M.J.S.) degree from the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, where he won a CALI Award for Academic Excellence in Reproductive Control Seminar.

His books include Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith (Cambridge University Press, 2015 ); (w/R. Sherlock) The Catholic Invitation to Latter-Day Saints (Ignatius Press, forthcoming); (w/ R. P. George, S. McWilliams) A Second Look at First Things: A Case for Conservative Politics (St. Augustine Press, 2013); Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft (InterVarsity Press, 2010); Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic (Brazos Press, 2009), among many others.

Professor Beckwith has been quoted in a variety of publications including the New York Times, the Dallas Morning-News, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, World Magazine, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Las Vegas Sun, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Los Angeles Times, the Waco Tribune-Herald, the Washington Times, Touchstone Magazine, the National Catholic Register, Commonweal, Moody Magazine, Christian Research Journal, the Baptist Standard and the Salt Lake Tribune.

Areas of Expertise (12)



Church and State Issues

Philosophical and Theological Ethics

Ethics & Values


Religion Politics & Culture


Philosophical Ethics

Political Ethics


Religious Ethics

Education (3)

Fordham University: Ph.D., Philosophy

Fordham University: M.A., Philosophy

Washington University School of Law: M.J.S.


Media Appearances (6)

U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments about religious rights of Texas death row inmates

KRLD-AM  radio


AUDIO: Francis Beckwith is interviewed about a U.S. Supreme Court case on the rights of death row inmates to have spiritual advisers in the execution chamber.

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U.S. Supreme Court weighs religion’s place in the Texas death chamber

The Texas Tribune  online


Francis Beckwith is quoted in this article about the arguments heard by the U.S. Supreme Court over what religious rights the state must accord inmates on death row.

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Democratic governor woos believers in Brooklyn megachurch

The Goshen News  online


Francis Beckwith explains how a New York governor’s support of vaccines in a Brooklyn church appeals to both political parties.

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Bob Dylan turns 80, while Dylanologists keep arguing about signs of faith in his art

Get Religion  online


As Bob Dylan's 80th birthday approaches, Francis Beckwith is publishing online commentaries on what he considers Dylan's 80 most important songs, a canon that includes images and themes rooted in Scripture and faith.

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Mattingly: Traditional Catholics watching Biden's actions

Herald and News  online


Francis Beckwith is quoted in this article about Catholic politicians and debates on controversial issues within the community.

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Supreme Court: On the Phone: Dr. Francis Beckwith



VIDEO: Francis Beckwith is interviewed from Washington, D.C., on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Articles (7)

What’s So Special About Religious Liberty? Law, Philosophy, and Serving God

George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal

Francis Joseph Beckwith


This paper addresses the question of the specialness of religious liberty.

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Violinists, Burglars, People-Seeds, Samaritans, and Reluctant Bone Marrow Donors: Why Do We Need Analogies to Pregnancy in Order to Understand It?

Agency, Pregnancy, and, Persons: Essays in Defense of Human Life

Francis Joseph Beckwith


Do we need an analogy to pregnancy in order to understand its meaning and the moral obligations that may arise from it?

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Separated at Baptism: What the Mortara Case Can Teach Us About the Rejection of Natural Justice by Integralists and Progressives

Brigham Young University Law Review

Francis Joseph Beckwith


In recent years two Catholic scholars--Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P and Dr. Mary McAleese—have taken seemingly contrary positions on the rights and obligations of the Church in relation to baptized children.

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Why Is Sexual Assault Special?: Transactional Sex and Sacred Intuitions

The Palgrave Handbook of Sexual Ethics

Francis Joseph Beckwith


A transactional view of sex is in tension with our intuitions about the special wrongness of sexual assault and harassment.

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CHURCH, STATE, AND THE ABUSE CRISIS: The Role of Assumed Ideas of “Reasonableness” in Religious Liberty

Journal of Christian Legal Thought

Francis J. Beckwith


A look at the abuse crisis in the American Catholic Church through the lens of the often complex and uneasy relationship between Catholicism and American culture and politics.

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Moral Status and the Architects of Principlism

The Journal of Medicine & Philosophy

Francis Beckwith, Allison Krile Thornton


This article discusses Beauchamp and Childress’s treatment of the issue of moral status, a moral ranking of sorts based on characteristics or attributes that tell us whether a being has certain rights or basic welfare interests.

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Gotta Serve Somebody? Religious Liberty, Freedom of Conscience, and Religion as Comprehensive Doctrine

Studies in Christian Ethics

Francis J. Beckwith


This article critically assesses an account of religious liberty often associated with several legal and political philosophers: Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, and Christopher Eisgruber and Lawrence Sager.

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