Synopses & Reviews
An in-depth look at five recent landmark court battles over the separation of church and state
Over the past two decades, federal courts have become contentious battlefields in Americas growing religious wars. Since 1989, five momentous court cases have divided communitiesand the nation. Peter Irons, a noted constitutional scholar, lawyer, and author of the bestselling May It Please the Court, delivers a compelling narrative accompanied by first-person accounts from both sides of the fight in these historic cases.
In 1989, residents of San Diego challenged a forty-three-foot-high cross in the center of a public park; 1995 brought a dispute in a Texas town over the recital of prayers at high school football games; in rural Kentucky in 1999, a lawsuit was filed against displaying the Ten Commandments in county courthouses; in 2000, a California parent challenged the words under God in his daughters daily Pledge of Allegiance. And, finally, in 2004, parents in Dover, Pennsylvania, challenged the school boards requirement that intelligent design be taught as an alternative to Darwins theory of evolution. Ironss detailed, in-depth investigation of each of these trials is followed by interviews with the people involved to provide a complete picture of the ongoing wars for the soul of America.
"'Despite Irons's title, Mike Newdow, who challenged the words 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance, says, 'People... think this is against God. And it's not.... It's those who believe in equality versus those who don't.' But his opponents, and the other defendants in the seven cases concerning the separation of church and state that civil liberties lawyer Irons relates, clearly see it differently. As one of Newdow's opponents says, if 'the majority of folks want it, I don't think the minority should be able to say, 'Well, no, you can't have it.' ' Irons (A People's History of the Supreme Court) provides exciting blow-by-blow accounts of the legal battles, ranging from two challenges to displays of the 10 Commandments in Kentucky and Texas to the fight over a cross on Mount Soleded in San Diego a theater of the absurd lasting 17 years and counting. Irons ends each chapter with monologues by a participant on each side. These are sometimes rambling and overlong, but reveal sometimes with surprising power, the personalities and motivations of the opponents. Irons's accounts clarify the legal issues in these important cases as well as what one federal judge called the Supreme Court's 'utterly standardless' decisions, failing to provide clear boundaries for the role of religion in the public square.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Constitutional scholar and bestselling author Irons looks at five recent landmark court battles over the separation of church and state and interviews the people involved to provide a complete picture of the ongoing wars for the soul of America.
An insightful and dramatic account of religious conflicts that keep America divided?from the acclaimed author of The Courage of Their Convictions
As the United States has become increasingly conservative, both politically and socially, in recent years, the fight between the religious right and those advocating for the separation of church and state has only intensified. As he did in The Courage of Their Convictions, award-winning author and legal expert Peter Irons combines an approachable, journalistic narrative style with intimate first-person accounts from both sides of the conflict. Set against the backdrop of American history, politics, and law, God on Trial relates the stories of six recent cases in communities that have become battlefields in America?s growing religious wars.
About the Author
Peter Irons is professor emeritus of political science at the University of California, San Diego. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a practicing civil liberties lawyer and a member of the Supreme Court bar. His award-winning books include Jim Crows Children and A Peoples History of the Supreme Court.