From Publishers Weekly
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."
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.