“This engagingly written book is a pleasure to read because of its wisdom, sparkle, and judiciousness. Frankel is a champion of the First Amendment's religion clauses, but his intellectual independence makes his judgments unpredictable. . . . Strongly recommended.”
Leonard W. Levy, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of History Emeritus, Claremont Graduate School
“This book is a coherent and consistent explanation of the Supreme Court's rulings on church and state over the last fifty years.
Faith and Freedom is clear, compelling, and persuasive.” Robert F. Drinnan, S.J., Georgetown University Law Center
“Passionate and persuasive . . . a paean to the First Amendment and the simple words of the religion clauses. [This] lucid book is at once a brief in favor of a high, sturdy wall of separation between church and state and a report card on the Constitution's success in mediating the inevitable tensions arising among believers and nonbelievers of different stripes.”
Jill Laurie Goodman, New York Law Journal
“A crisp and spirited argument for the near-total separation of church and state, by a former New York federal judge. . . . Its considerable charm is due in no small part to its brevity. It is a 'thumbnail history' of the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the First Amendment, plus a 'sketch' of recent church/state cases decided by the Supreme Court. The author has a sharp viewpoint and a precise and often witty pen. He begins by debunking the myth that American democracy was founded on the colonists' Christianity, noting surprisingly that they were 'relative[ly] indifferen[t] toward religion.' According to Frankel, America was conceived as a secular nation, and for the most part, the modern Supreme Court has fortified the wall between church and state, forbidding nonsectarian silent prayers in public schools, striking down Florida ordinances outlawing Santeria's animal sacrifices, and refusing to permit a group of Satmar Hasidic Jews to carve out a school district within their religious community in order to receive public funds for special education. But Frankel also criticizes the Court for permitting the city of Pawtucket, R.I., to display a creche on public property, and the city of Pittsburgh a menorah; he prefers a simple, absolute rule forbidding even the most benign endorsement of religion by government. He blasts the Court's implication that it might endorse intentionally vague 'moment of silence' laws in public schools, and he deplores the Court's upholding of the conviction of Rev. Sun Myung Moon for filing false tax returns (whether a bank account belonged to him or to his tax-exempt church was a close question that, like all close questions, 'should be decided for freedom'). Ultimately, this is a case for tolerance for all religions, even those unrepresented by majoritarian government--and for irreligion, too. A rare work that successfully distills a whole philosophical debate into a few accessible pages.”
Frankel, former U.S. district judge has written an extended essay on separation of church and state. In light of the current clamor for a Constitutional amendment providing for school prayer, it is unfortunate that his book lacks contemporary urgency, sketching instead the history of U.S. religious liberty and summarizing court decisions over the decades not just on school prayer but on public buses for parochial schools, moments of silence, public creches and other religious displays, and on religious practices such as peyote use or animal sacrifice that violate criminal laws. He makes a good case for his position that the separation of church and state must be interpreted strictly in order to protect minorities, including such telling evidence as a Jewish schoolchild's testimony about being harassed after not praying during a mandated moment of silence. However, Frankel treats questions of religious liberty strictly as differences of religious belief and practice, ignoring the competing social and political agendas of religious groups. And his writing is often awkward and pretentious: ``In what critics condemn as a crazily wavering line, but I tend to accept as good-faith efforts by fallible and nonuniform judges, there has been a diversity of cases and fine distinctions.'' (Jan.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Frankel, a distinguished jurist now in private practice, argues that the "wall of separation" between church and state must be kept almost unbreachable if religious liberty is to be preserved. By no means antireligious, he examines various court cases that have dealt with religious issues, explains the history behind them, and at times criticizes the reasoning of the Supreme Court. His purpose is to show that, where the wall has been kept high, the polyglot American community has benefited. He also deals with hard cases-alleged religious quackery, laws regulating the sale of kosher products-but comes down on the side of noninterference on the part of the government where there is no clearly secular issue at stake. A chapter on school vouchers is particularly timely. For general collections.-Augustine Curley, Newark Abbey, N.J.