Constitutional Debates on Freedom of Religion: A Documentary History

Constitutional Debates on Freedom of Religion: A Documentary History

Constitutional Debates on Freedom of Religion: A Documentary History

Constitutional Debates on Freedom of Religion: A Documentary History


Debates over the separation or accommodation of religion and government have divided Americans since the founding of our country and continue to echo in governmental chambers today, as people argue sharply and heatedly about the exact meaning and correct applications of First Amendment clauses on religious establishment and free exercise of religion. Students can trace the history and development of these arguments, as well as the reactions to them, through this unique collection of over 70 primary documents. Court cases and other documents bring to life the controversies surrounding the issues. Explanatory introductions to documents aid users in understanding the various arguments put forth, while illuminating the significance of each document.

Patrick and Long trace the origins and changes in the nature of the debates surrounding the issue of freedom of religion using carefully chosen court cases and other documents to reflect the fact that the Court's decision has not always ended public controversy about the relationships between church and state or religion and government. Indeed, especially in recent years, the Court's decisions in some cases have exacerbated old tensions and generated new issues. The focus throughout is on the connection between the U. S. Constitution and freedom of religion. The introductory and explanatory text help readers understand the nature of the conflicts, the issues being litigated, the social and cultural pressures that shaped each debate, and the manner in which the passions of individual government officials, justices, and our presidents affected the development of policies concerning freedom of religion.


This series is designed to meet the research needs of high school and college students by making available in one volume the key primary documents on a given historical event or contemporary issue. Documents include speeches and letters, congressional testimony, Supreme Court and lower court decisions, government reports, biographical accounts, position papers, statutes, and news stories.

The purpose of the series is twofold: (1) to provide substantive and background material on an event or issue through the texts of pivotal primary documents that shaped policy or law, raised controversy, or influenced the course of events, and (2) to trace the controversial aspects of the event or issue through documents that represent a variety of viewpoints. Documents for each volume have been selected by a recognized specialist in that subject with the advice of a board of other subject specialists, school librarians, and teachers.

To place the subject in historical perspective, the volume editor has prepared an introductory overview and a chronology of events. Documents are organized either chronologically or topically. The documents are full text or, if unusually long, have been excerpted by the volume editor. To facilitate understanding, each document is accompanied by an explanatory introduction. Suggestions for further reading follow the document or the chapter.

It is the hope of Greenwood Press that this series will enable students and other readers to use primary documents more easily in their research, to exercise critical thinking skills by examining the key documents in American history and public policy, and to critique the variety of viewpoints represented by this selection of documents.

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