In this second of two major volumes on the intersection of constitutional and religious issues in the United States, Kent Greenawalt focuses on the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which forbids government from favoring one religion over another, or religion over secularism. The author begins with a history of the clause, its underlying principles, and the Supreme Court's main decisions on establishment, and proceeds to consider specific controversies. Taking a contextual approach, Greenawalt argues that the state's treatment of religion cannot be reduced to a single formula.
Calling throughout for acknowledgment of the way religion gives meaning to people's lives, Religion and the Constitution aims to accommodate the maximum expression of religious conviction that is consistent with a commitment to fairness and the public welfare.
Ravitch unpacks the various principles of religion clause interpretation, drawing on contemporary debates such as school prayer and displaying the Ten Commandments on courthouses, to demonstrate that the neutrality principle does not work in a pluralistic society. When defined by large, overarching principles of equality and liberty, neutrality fails to account for differences between groups and individuals. If, however, the Court drew on a variety of principles instead of a single notion of neutrality to decide whether or not laws facilitated or discouraged religious practices, the result could be a more equitable approach to religion clause cases.
Jesse Choper's thoughtful and pragmatic guidelines are designed to provide maximum protection for religious freedom without granting anyone an advantage, inflicting a disadvantage, or causing an unfair burden. Although Choper does not call for the wholesale overturning of judicial precedents or established social practices, the standards he has proposed would result in significant--and controversial--modifications to existing doctrines and customs. Choper argues, for instance, that while vocal prayer and Bible reading in public schools should continue to be prohibited, we can and should allow for silent prayer and objective courses in creation science. His standards would also, among other things, eliminate the tax exemption on property used exclusively for religious purposes while allowing parochial schools to receive public funds for the non-religious component of their education.
Quality ebook formatting includes linked notes, active TOC, and linked Index and Table of Cases.
In the first of two major volumes on the intersection of constitutional and religious issues in the United States, Kent Greenawalt focuses on one of the Constitution's main clauses concerning religion: the Free Exercise Clause. Beginning with a brief account of the clause's origin and a short history of the Supreme Court's leading decisions about freedom of religion, he devotes a chapter to each of the main controversies encountered by judges and lawmakers. Sensitive to each case's context in judging whether special treatment of religious claims is justified, Greenawalt argues that the state's treatment of religion cannot be reduced to a single formula.
Calling throughout for religion to be taken more seriously as a force for meaning in people's lives, Religion and the Constitution aims to accommodate the maximum expression of religious conviction that is consistent with a commitment to fairness and the public welfare.
Using these and other case studies, Greenawalt considers how to balance the country's constitutional commitment to personal freedoms and to the separation of church and state with the vital role that religion has always played in American society. Do we risk distorting students' understanding of America's past and present by ignoring religion in public-school curricula? When does teaching about religion cross the line into the promotion of religion?
Tracing the historical development of religion within public schools and considering every major Supreme Court case, Greenawalt concludes that the bans on school prayer and the teaching of creationism are justified, and that the court should more closely examine such activities as the singing of religious songs and student papers on religious topics. He also argues that students ought to be taught more about religion--both its contributions and shortcomings--especially in courses in history. To do otherwise, he writes, is to present a seriously distorted picture of society and indirectly to be other than neutral in presenting secularism and religion.
Written with exemplary clarity and even-handedness, this is a major book about some of the most pressing and contentious issues in educational policy and constitutional law today.