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God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law Hardcover – May 30, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
If so, expand your thinking a bit. The ability to break the law goes beyond individuals whom we easily recognize as seedy, scheming characters. Some people use our most cherished institutions as vehicles for such criminal activities as child abuse, murder, and theft. Those seem like strong words at first blush, but case histories show those claims are accurate.
And the courts routinely aid and abet these crimes by providing exceptional protection to those who commit them. Thanks to Constitution-violating court decisions, criminals who hide behind the mantle of religion remain free to strike again and again. At the heart of this maelstrom of magisterial malfeasance, we find the issue of church vs. state. Hamilton looks at this issue closely, and lays to rest the myths upon which courts justify their complicity with criminals who happen to represent religious organizations. Replace the myths with truths, and the entire house of cards tumbles.
The courts, in their support of religious offenders, are doing religious organizations no favor. Just look at what has happened to the Catholic church. The Catholic church continues to harbor pedophile priests, and the courts help them do it. This has diminished the church to most Catholics--many of whom are becoming ex-Catholics. Consequently, many Catholic schools are closing their doors and the treasuries of Catholic congregations are on life support.Read more ›
You don't have to be a lawyer or scholar to enjoy this book - you just have to be an interested citizen. This is a "must read" no matter what your position is when you crack the spine. The book documents a variety of historical clashes between religion and the law, as well as timely issues such as the marriage debate, child abuse, and religion's place in the public square. After reading this well-researched book, you would be hard pressed not to agree with Professor Hamilton's conclusion: religion is the inspiration for many good things in our society, but it cannot be used as a shield for actions that harm others.
In her book God vs. The Gavel author Marci Hamilton argues that the church, while being allowed to perform their purpose and service in the world, should also be subject to the rule of law that they should cause no harm. The author takes a well-argued position that there should be some limit on religious freedom when it harms others. Examples include the child who can easily be treated for a life-threatening illness but is not due to the religious beliefs of the parents, or the family that moves into a quiet residential neighborhood but then finds a church starting in the house next door followed by houses demolished to make a large parking lot, etc. Some of the issues are not as far reaching as these and include such matters as allowing a beard to military personnel whose religion specifies it, or kosher food for a Jewish inmate in a prison. There are many, many of these places where the interests of the state and the church intersect.
This book is a call to all of us, including religious practitioners, to practice our religion as we will as long as it harms nobody else. The author's arguments are firmly grounded in the First Amendment and the intent of its framers. Brilliantly argued, although many will have difficulty with the idea of accountability to anyone other than the local church, God vs. The Gavel is recommended reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is fascinating. It has a lot of information and makes you think and understand the legal issues surrounding religion in a critical way.Published 2 months ago by BookBunny
While the latter part of this book covers the actual law, with good footnotes, the first part is just a screed of the author's opinions and not worth either the time spent reading... Read morePublished 7 months ago by catpatt
A good read on the establishment clause. Slightly slanted, but covers the basics. I would recommend it as a starting point.Published on April 18, 2014 by Steve Lester
I read Marci Hamilton's book years ago from the standpoint of the Church hierarchy's well-documented cover-ups and, one could almost say, collusion with priests who sexually abused... Read morePublished on September 14, 2013 by Rea
in this country, founded on judeo christian beliefs, we have seperated religion from law and yet the laws on the books of america are to keep us in line with the original 10. Read morePublished on January 27, 2013 by Loretta J. Hanley
God vs The Gavel provides compelling arguments but could be edited into a more compact book. The supports for the thesis are well chosen and well described for the most part. Read morePublished on December 17, 2012 by Whitney Roberts
It's a book, what does one say about a product like this. I wanted one and I now have itPublished on October 2, 2010 by Michael J. Blais
Anyone who has read this book or is thinking of reading this book should try to get his/her hands on the review of it by Douglas Laycock, entitled "Syllabus of Errors," published... Read morePublished on September 4, 2009 by Zeldock
Religion is a powerful thing: It can do great good and great evil, Marci Hamilton reminds us. As a lawyer, her question is how to regulate religion? Read morePublished on March 28, 2008 by Omer Belsky