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God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty 2nd Edition

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1107456556
ISBN-10: 110745655X
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Editorial Reviews


"In this highly readable and timely book, Marci Hamilton sheds much needed light on the ways in which religious groups and institutions - often aided and abetted by 'dealmaker' politicians - enjoy special treatment under the law, often to the detriment of others and the broader society. Highlighting the key distinction between religious belief and behavior, Hamilton argues that while freedom of religious belief deserves absolute constitutional protection, actions undertaken in the name of religion must be limited when they cause harm. This deceptively simple message, illuminated by Hamilton's impressive scholarship, deserves the attention not only of scholars, lawmakers, and religious practitioners, but also of average citizens whose everyday lives are - often unwittingly - impacted by the issues she raises."
Hella Winston, journalist and author of Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels

"No one in the public square has articulated more presciently than Professor Marci Hamilton the dangers of socially harmful religious exemptions; and no book argues the case for ordered religious liberty more vividly than God vs. the Gavel. This updated edition of Hamilton's text arrives at a watershed moment in our country's church-state conversation, when even for-profit corporations are invoking the First Amendment's protections to avoid complying with neutral, generally applicable laws. If the special religious interests win this fight, the recent progress of faith-based institutions toward transparency and accountability in the area of child protection will be undone. For the sake of children, of believers, and of the general American public, the Supreme Court must get this right."
Anne Barrett Doyle, Co-Director, BishopAccountability.org

"Marci Hamilton has been a prophet ahead of her time on the harms posed by the state and federal Religious Freedom Restoration acts. She has also been more consistent and comprehensive in her position than many others. In lucid, strong prose, she provides an understanding of what religious freedom has meant historically and of the need for "ordered liberty" today."
Rita Swan, Founder and President, CHILD (Children's Health Is a Legal Duty)

"This seminal work by Marci Hamilton is provocative, enlightening, and highly important. God vs. the Gavel serves as a clarion call against the radical religious fervor that, while enjoying protection, perpetrates abuse on the most vulnerable in society and through a ruinous weakening of separation of church and state threatens the foundations of democracy - in short, of society itself. Only Hamilton could have pierced the high-holy sanctimonious shield so articulately and scholarly as this."
Andrea Moore-Emmett, author of God's Brothel

"For two decades, Marci Hamilton has been battling theocrats seeking to impose their religious dogma under the guise of religious liberty. Hamilton knows there can be no true religious liberty, without the freedom to dissent. Her efforts to raise the alarm have been invaluable to all of us who work to defend the Jeffersonian wall of separation between church and state."
Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-President, Freedom From Religion Foundation

"Hamilton's no-nonsense, lay-friendly style makes for an easy read that clearly explains one of America's most significant constitutional rights: the First Amendment. But religious freedom doesn't permit raping children. Hamilton shows us how we can protect spiritual belief while punishing criminal behavior by religious figures. I love this!"
Barbara Blaine, President, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

"With this updated edition of God vs. the Gavel, Marci Hamilton affirms her commitment to protecting Americans from legal actions that proponents claim are needed to preserve religious liberty. As Ms Hamilton points out, these legalities are not only unnecessary but they empower religious extremists in ways we have not seen before. As a researcher of religious child maltreatment, I particularly applaud the author's inclusion of a chapter that painfully describes how these misguided decisions threaten the lives of children who are unfortunate enough to be born to the ultra-pious. There is no question that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, religious exemptions in child abuse laws, and certain court decisions have the potential to rob children of the right to a proper education, needed medical care, and safety for years to come if we do not follow Ms Hamilton's lead and pay close attention to how these legal decisions are made and how they affect our families and communities."
Janet Heimlich, founder, Child-Friendly Faith Project and author of Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment

"Professor Marci Hamilton continues to be an extraordinary constitutional scholar. This important and powerful work reflects tireless and meticulous research. Hamilton supplies important new information, she connects the dots, and she reveals a hard truth: the enormous dangers behind the dark shield of religious liberty. Hamilton allows a piercing look behind the ridiculous claim of religious protection made by for-profit corporations and other duplicitous tactics used by the Catholic dioceses. This is an intelligent, necessary, and perhaps even urgent book."
Kathryn Robb, Board Member, Massachusetts Citizens for Children and New York Coalition to Protect Children

"Legally authoritative, common-sense persuasive. ... God vs. the Gavel is a must-read for every legislator and child advocate working to promote the rights of children to be protected from maltreatment, including child sexual abuse and religiously motivated medical neglect. Those demanding benefits under extreme religious freedom arguments would do well to consider Dr Hamilton's exhortation not to violate important social duties or to avoid the fundamental moral behaviors demanded by their own religions."
Jetta Bernier, Executive Director, Massachusetts Citizens for Children

"In 2005, Professor Hamilton warned us that extreme notions of religious liberty promote tyranny instead of freedom. With nine more years of RFRA, RLUIPA, and landmark Supreme Court decisions behind us, Hamilton's argument, and the second edition of God vs. the Gavel, are needed now more than ever. Her unique background and experience as litigator and scholar make Hamilton the best person to explain why the rule of law, not the rule of religion, satisfies the First Amendment."
Leslie R. Griffin, author of Law and Religion: Cases in Context

"... a must-read for anyone interested in the changes in relations between religion and the state in late twentieth and early twenty-first century US law. Hamilton opens up the black box of religious organization, reminding us that oppression, domination, inequality, and abuse can occur in every context in which power is absolute and unquestioned, and that includes the religious. Assessed through the lens of court decisions and doctrine, she shows that politicized religious groups allied with one another are shifting the balance of power in the United States: the scales are tipped dangerously in favor of the institutional power of religious entities while the rights of the less powerful are left without protection. This is a sobering account of the risks posed by political religion ... Fascinating, terrifically well informed, and well argued. This book shows that we cannot remain complacent about the religious right but must fight to protect our civil liberties against all intolerance, especially when it is labeled religious."
Jean Cohen, Nell and Herbert M. Singer Professor of Political Theory, Columbia University

Book Description

God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty sets the record straight about the United States' move toward extreme religious liberty, unmasks those responsible for harm done in the name of religion, and argues for a return to common-sense religious liberty. This thoroughly revised second edition features a new introduction and epilogue and many contemporary examples.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (September 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 110745655X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107456556
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #884,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
By way of disclosure, I am an evangelical Christian but not one with pretensions to sainthood. And more than a few years ago, I corresponded with Marci Hamilton via email on issues involving federalism. However, I am receiving no compensation of any kind for this review. I hate even having to say this as it resembles the legalese that you hear in the background on commercials but there are too many "ringers" out there writing fake reviews.

All that having been said, I think that you can sum up her basic points by citing the following text from her book: "Religious conduct should only be exempt from neutral, general laws when (1) duly enacted by a legislature, not decreed by a court; (2) debated under the harsh glare of public scrutiny; and (3) consistent with the larger public good." Hamilton makes the case that government may not sanction beliefs but can have something to say about conduct. That's important because the influence of religion is not uniformly positive and religious institutions like any other can take steps to protect themselves resulting in harm to the public. If you are looking for something frothy, this is not the book for you. It is well worked out and copiously documented but be prepared to think through what she says in this book. It will be an eyeopener for many people and an antidote to the idea that being religious should automatically give you more rights than everyone else.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Important to understand how religion can be in conflict with religion.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
And just goes to show how dangerous it is to mix religion and law...IN ANY COUNTRY.
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