Interpreting the Free Exercise of Religion: The Constitution and American Pluralism / Edition 1

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Overview

A generation ago, all of the big questions concerning religious freedom in America seemed to have been resolved. At the very least, the lines of division between proponents of a wall of separation between church and state and advocates of religious accommodation seemed clearly drawn. Since then, increasing religious diversity and changing functions of government have raised new questions about what it means to allow the free exercise of religion. In this book, Bette Novit Evans explores the contemporary understandings of this First Amendment guarantee in all of its complexity and ambiguity. Evans situates constitutional arguments about free exercise within the context of theological and sociological insights about American religious experience. She surveys and evaluates several of the most well considered approaches to religious freedom and applies them to contemporary legal controversies, examining problems in defining religion and claims concerning the autonomy of religious institutions. Her conclusions about religious liberty are embedded in an appreciation of American pluralism: the guarantee of religious freedom, she argues, can be understood as an instrument for fostering alternative sources of meaning within a pluralistic political community.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Evans political science, Creighton Univ., Nebraska sets out to provide a comprehensive and systematic account of contemporary jurisprudence regarding the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. The author assumes the reader's familiarity with the landmark cases and relevant legal history. She cites Locke, Jefferson, Madison, Burke, and de Tocqueville, as well as such modern political theorists as Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Peter Berger, and she situates that account in the American political and religious landscape. Using this background, she comments on recent cases involving the Sanctuary movement, public funding in public or private schools run by religious communities, and an Air Force officer's right to wear religiously mandated attire. Evans advocates pluralism as a compromise between liberal individualism and communitarianism. Religious freedom, she shows, can make room for alternative sources of meaning within a diverse, cohesive, and vital civil society. A thoughtful work for academic collections.John R. Leech, Brooklyn, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807846742
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 1/19/1998
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Bette Novit Evans is associate professor of political science at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. The Search for Principles
2. Definitions of Religion under the Free Exercise Clause
3. Burdens to Religious Beliefs
4. The Nature of Religious Exercises
5. The Autonomy of Religious Institutions
6. Threats to Religious Identity
7. Burdens on Religious Exercise
8. Accommodating, Exempting, and Balancing: Religious Freedom and the Political Process
9. The Pluralist Theory of Free Exercise
Notes
Index

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