Defending American Religious Neutrality

Defending American Religious Neutrality

by Andrew Koppelman
Defending American Religious Neutrality

Defending American Religious Neutrality

by Andrew Koppelman

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Although it is often charged with hostility toward religion, First Amendment doctrine in fact treats religion as a distinctive human good. It insists, however, that this good be understood abstractly, without the state taking sides on any theological question. Here, a leading scholar of constitutional law explains the logic of this uniquely American form of neutrality--more religion-centered than liberal theorists propose, and less overtly theistic than conservatives advocate.

The First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion is under threat. Growing numbers of critics, including a near-majority of the Supreme Court, seem ready to cast aside the ideal of American religious neutrality. Andrew Koppelman defends that ideal and explains why protecting religion from political manipulation is imperative in an America of growing religious diversity.

Understanding American religious neutrality, Koppelman shows, can explain some familiar puzzles. How can Bible reading in public schools be impermissible while legislative sessions begin with prayers, Christmas is an official holiday, and the words "under God" appear in the Pledge of Allegiance? Are faith-based social services, public financing of religious schools, or the teaching of intelligent design constitutional? Combining legal, historical, and philosophical analysis, Koppelman shows how law coherently navigates these conundrums. He explains why laws must have a secular legislative purpose, why old, but not new, ceremonial acknowledgments of religion are permitted, and why it is fair to give religion special treatment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674066465
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 01/01/2013
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Andrew Koppelman is John Paul Stevens Professor of Law at Northwestern University.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The American Specification of Neutrality 15

2 Corruption of Religion and the Establishment Clause 46

3 Religion Clause Doctrine Explained 78

4 Why Single Out Religion? 120

5 A Secular State? 166

Notes 179

Acknowledgments 231

Index 233

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