Religion on Trial: How Supreme Court Trends Threaten the Freedom of Conscience in America

Religion on Trial: How Supreme Court Trends Threaten the Freedom of Conscience in America

by Phillip E. Hammond, David W. Machacek, Eric Michael Mazur, Eric Michael Mazur
     
 

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The free exercise of conscience is under threat in the United States. Already the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court is reversing the progress of religious liberty that had been steadily advancing. And this danger will only increase if more conservative judges are nominated to the court. This is the impassioned argument of Religion on Trial. Against Justices

Overview

The free exercise of conscience is under threat in the United States. Already the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court is reversing the progress of religious liberty that had been steadily advancing. And this danger will only increase if more conservative judges are nominated to the court. This is the impassioned argument of Religion on Trial. Against Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Chief Justice Rehnquist, the authors argue that what the First Amendment protects is the freedom of individual conviction, not the rights of sectarian majorities to inflict their values on others. Beginning with an analysis of the origins of the Constitution and then following the history of significant church-state issues, Religion on Trial shows that the trajectory of American history has been toward greater freedoms for more Americans: freedom of religion moving gradually toward freedom of conscience regardless of religion. But in the last quarter-century, conservatives have gained political power and they are now attempting to limit the ability of the Court to protect the rights of individual conscience. Writing not just as scholars, but as advocates of church-state separation, Hammond, Machacek, and Mazur make the strong case that every American needs to pay attention to what is happening on the Surpeme Court or risk losing the liberties of conscience and religion that have been gained so far.

Editorial Reviews

Journal Of Church and State
Religion on Trial is a remarkable, readable, and commendable achievement.
Perspectives On Political Science
The book is scholarly, yet written for a general adult reading audience. It is unique in its thesis and makes a contribution to the literature on freedom of conscience. It is highly controversial, but once one readers agree with the book's premise, its conclusion logically follows. . . . It is a splendid book.
— Robert W. Langran, Villanova University
CHOICE
Well written and of quite manageable length. Recommended
The Law and Politics Book Review
Religion on Trial makes the historical debates about religion clauses accessible to a broad audience. In addition, it properly links issues of free exercise of religion to issues about fundamental rights in a manner that is usually missed by legal scholars and political scientists. Consequently, this book would be a good addition to undergraduate, graduate, and law school courses on the religion clause or on law and religion.
Journal of Church and State
Religion on Trial is a remarkable, readable, and commendable achievement.
Choice
Well written and of quite manageable length. Recommended
Rev. Barry Lynn
Hammond, Machacek, and Mazur have produced a powerful and engaging work which documents a clear and present danger to religious freedom emanating from the Supreme Court itself. This book, accessible and engaging, should be of interest to any American open to the idea that separation of church and state is a cornerstone of real democracy and genuine moral choice. The work is infused with solid historical scholarship, thoughtful core studies, and compelling arguments for keeping a decent distance between religious institutions and government.
Perspectives on Political Science - Robert W. Langran
The book is scholarly, yet written for a general adult reading audience. It is unique in its thesis and makes a contribution to the literature on freedom of conscience. It is highly controversial, but once one readers agree with the book's premise, its conclusion logically follows. . . . It is a splendid book.
Ronald Flowers
Religion on Trial is a book that many, including some justices of the Supreme Court, will hate. Because they assert that the regressive justices of the Court are unfaithful to the Constitution, the authors raise alarm about the present state and future of separation of church and state and its corollary, religious freedom. Thoroughly grounded in history, their argument is a paean to freedom of conscience and a cautionary tale about the current Court and allowing any more regressive justices to be appointed to the court. Those who cherish religious freedom and civil rights generally will find much to ponder, and be dismayed about, in this informative, provocative, and readable book.
Barbara A. McGraw
A superb and readily accessible account of the story of Freedom of Conscience under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—Religion on Trial is a powerful indictment of the 'regressive' justices of the current U.S. Supreme Court. Everyone for whom freedom of conscience is important, that is every American, should take heed.
Journal of Church & State
Religion on Trial is a remarkable, readable, and commendable achievement.
Library Journal
Hammond (religious studies, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) and his coauthors argue that the "religion" protected by the U.S. Constitution's free establishment clause has increasingly been interpreted by the courts as freedom of conscience and not primarily as a systemic array of communal doctrines and practices. Such freedom, the authors maintain, is an aspect of personality, inherent in the nature of human beings, and is acknowledged rather than created by government. Thus, freedom of conscience extends not only to the question of whether sacramental peyote may be used by Native Americans in Oregon (Employment Division v. Smith, 1990) but also to the question of whether homosexual sodomy may be practiced by consenting adults in Texas (Lawrence v. Texas, 2003). The authors hold that the positions of several members of the current U.S. Supreme Court have been regressive, attempting to replace a radical principle of liberty with a limited principle of tolerance. Solidly argued if not remarkable in its observations, this work might be acquired by libraries that already have Cass Sunstein's The Partial Constitution and Jeffrey Stout's extraordinary Democracy and Tradition.-David I. Fulton, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780759106000
Publisher:
AltaMira Press
Publication date:
03/28/2004
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
6.48(w) x 9.42(h) x 0.76(d)

Meet the Author

Phillip E. Hammond is D. Mackenzie Brown Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has written numerous books and articles, including The School Prayer Decisions: From Court Policy to Local Practice (1971), The Protestant Presence in Twentieth Century America: Religion and Political Culture (1992), Religion and Personal Autonomy: The Third Disestablishment in America (1992), and With Liberty for All: Freedom of Religion in the United States (1998). David W. Machacek is resident fellow at the Greenberg Center for Religion in Public Life and visiting assistant professor of public policy at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. His relevant publications include: 'Religious and Sexual Liberty: Civic versus Personal Morality in the United States' in his forthcoming volume Sexuality and the World's Religions (2003), 'The Problem of Religious Pluralism' in the journal Sociology of Religion (2003), and 'Religion in Civil Society' in The Encyclopedia of Community (2003). He is also co-author with Phillip E. Hammond of Soka Gakkai in America: Accomodation and Conversion (1999). Eric Michael Mazur is associate professor of religion at Bucknell University. His publications include The Americanization of Religious Minorities: Confronting the Constitutional Order (1999), ''The Supreme Law of the Land': Sources of Conflict between Native Americans and the Constitutional Order' in American Indian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Contemporary Issues (1997), 'Constitutional Authoirty and Prospects for Social Justice for High Tension Religious Communities' in the journal Social Justice Research (1996), and with Phillip Hammond, 'Church, State, and the Dilemma of Conscience' in the Journal of Church and State (1995).

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