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Religion on Trial: How Supreme Court Trends Threaten Freedom of Conscience in America Paperback – March 15, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


Religion on Trial is a remarkable, readable, and commendable achievement. (Journal of Church and State)

Hammond, Machacek, and Mazur have produced a powerful and engaging work which documents a clear and present danger to religious freedom emanating from the Supreme Court itself. This book, accessible and engaging, should be of interest to any American open to the idea that separation of church and state is a cornerstone of real democracy and genuine moral choice. The work is infused with solid historical scholarship, thoughtful core studies, and compelling arguments for keeping a decent distance between religious institutions and government. (Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State)

The book is scholarly, yet written for a general adult reading audience. It is unique in its thesis and makes a contribution to the literature on freedom of conscience. It is highly controversial, but once one readers agree with the book's premise, its conclusion logically follows. . . . It is a splendid book. (Robert W. Langran, Villanova University Perspectives on Political Science)

Well written and of quite manageable length. Recommendeddddd (CHOICE)

Religion on Trial is a book that many, including some justices of the Supreme Court, will hate. Because they assert that the regressive justices of the Court are unfaithful to the Constitution, the authors raise alarm about the present state and future of separation of church and state and its corollary, religious freedom. Thoroughly grounded in history, their argument is a paean to freedom of conscience and a cautionary tale about the current Court and allowing any more regressive justices to be appointed to the court. Those who cherish religious freedom and civil rights generally will find much to ponder, and be dismayed about, in this informative, provocative, and readable book. (Ronald Flowers, Texas Christian University)

A superb and readily accessible account of the story of Freedom of Conscience under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution―Religion on Trial is a powerful indictment of the 'regressive' justices of the current U.S. Supreme Court. Everyone for whom freedom of conscience is important, that is every American, should take heed. (Barbara A. McGraw, author of Rediscovering America's Sacred Ground: Public Religion and the Pursuit of Good in a Pluralistic America)

Well written and of quite manageable length. Recommended (CHOICE)

Solidly argued. (Library Journal)

Religion on Trial makes the historical debates about religion clauses accessible to a broad audience. In addition, it properly links issues of free exercise of religion to issues about fundamental rights in a manner that is usually missed by legal scholars and political scientists. Consequently, this book would be a good addition to undergraduate, graduate, and law school courses on the religion clause or on law and religion. (The Law and Politics Book Review)

About the Author

Phillip E. Hammond is D. Mackenzie Brown Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has written numerous books and articles, including The School Prayer Decisions: From Court Policy to Local Practice (1971), The Protestant Presence in Twentieth Century America: Religion and Political Culture (1992), Religion and Personal Autonomy: The Third Disestablishment in America (1992), and With Liberty for All: Freedom of Religion in the United States (1998).

David W. Machacek is resident fellow at the Greenberg Center for Religion in Public Life and visiting assistant professor of public policy at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. His relevant publications include: "Religious and Sexual Liberty: Civic versus Personal Morality in the United States" in his forthcoming volume Sexuality and the World's Religions (2003), "The Problem of Religious Pluralism" in the journal Sociology of Religion (2003), and "Religion in Civil Society" in The Encyclopedia of Community (2003). He is also co-author with Phillip E. Hammond of Soka Gakkai in America: Accomodation and Conversion (1999).

Eric Michael Mazur is associate professor of religion at Bucknell University. His publications include The Americanization of Religious Minorities: Confronting the Constitutional Order (1999), ""The Supreme Law of the Land': Sources of Conflict between Native Americans and the Constitutional Order" in American Indian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Contemporary Issues (1997), "Constitutional Authoirty and Prospects for Social Justice for High Tension Religious Communities" in the journal Social Justice Research (1996), and with Phillip Hammond, "Church, State, and the Dilemma of Conscience" in the Journal of Church and State (1995).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press (March 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0759106010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0759106017
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,052,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. Nagy on August 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
Excerpt from introduction: Our argument is organized in three parts. First, we examine the origin of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Since the regressive turn in current Supreme Court jurisprudence is usually carried out in the name of the Framers' "original intent," we look for what must have been the thinking of the Framers of the Constitution as they set up a tripartite government of checks and balances. We look especially at the role of the judicial branch and conclude that the Framers would applaud the expanded notion of religious liberty that emerged in twentieth-century jurisprudence.

Second, we look at the record of the judicial system from 1789 through the 1930s. We learn that the narrow understanding of the First Amendment advocated by today's regressive justices does not reflect the thinking or intentions of the eighteenth-century Framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights but rather reflects an understanding of church and state that emerged in the nineteenth century.

Third, we look closely at the last half century of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on church-state issues, seeing them as a critical battleground for progressives who would further expand religious liberty and for regressives who would subject that liberty to majority rule.

The resolution of these two issues in favor of an ever-expanding religious freedom-what Justice O'Connor calls "well-settled First Amendment jurisprudence"-is now under assault. Religious liberty or conscience is in jeopardy, threatened by those who in our view woefully misconstrue the course of religious freedom in America.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Donald W. Blair on September 5, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have heard from a colleague that he has a version on CD that is 3 to 4 times longer than the paperback I received. A paperback which stops just prior to the arrival of the last two Bush appointees to the bench. Therefore, it (this book) falls way short of describing and/or exposing the extreme right-wing flavor of the court as it exists today. A court that is so blatantly political that it disgraces itself almost as much as the Bush Whitehouse does with alarming regularity. I expect Roe V. Wade to fall anytime now. How sad.
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