The Springfield College Department of Humanities and Social Sciences hosted its Philosophy and Religion Spring Forum Speaker Series on Monday, March 15, a virtual lecture by Peter Cajka, PhD, from the University of Notre Dame.
Cajka's presentation focused on What is your conscience? Is it a small, still voice? A cricket perched on your shoulder? An angel and devil who compete for your attention? This lecture explored how, from the Cold War to the cultural revolutions of 1968, American Catholics invoked conscience rights against authority in the church and in the state.
As growing numbers of Catholics started to consider formerly stout institutions to be morally hollow, they increasingly turned to their own consciences as guides for action and belief. Today’s debates over political power, religious freedom, gay rights, and more, are all deeply infused by the language and concepts outlined by these pioneers of personal conscience.
Cajka is the author of Follow Your Conscience: The Catholic Church and the Spirit of the Sixties (University of Chicago Press, 2021). He is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Cajka earned a PhD in American religious history from Boston College in 2017.