How Free Can Religion Be?
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Randall P. Bezanson’s How Free Can Religion Be? explores the Supreme Court’s varied history of interpreting the religious guarantees outlined in the First Amendment. The book discusses eight provocative Supreme Court decisions to track the evolution of Free Exercise and Establishment Clause doctrine, focusing on the court’s shift from strict separation of church and state to a position where the government accommodates and even fosters religion.
Beginning with samples from the latter half of the nineteenth century, the detailed case studies present new problems and revisit some old ones as well: the purported belief of polygamy in the Mormon Church; state support for religious schools; the teaching of evolution and creationism in public schools; Amish claims for exemption from compulsory education laws; comparable claims for Native American religion in relation to drug laws; and rights of free speech and equal access by religious groups in colleges and public schools.