Trumping Religion: The New Christian Right, the Free Speech Clause, and the Courts

Trumping Religion: The New Christian Right, the Free Speech Clause, and the Courts

Trumping Religion: The New Christian Right, the Free Speech Clause, and the Courts

Trumping Religion: The New Christian Right, the Free Speech Clause, and the Courts

Synopsis

The first scholarly treatment of the strategies employed by the New Christian Right in litigating cases regarding religion.

Trumping Religion provides a detailed analysis of the five major public-interest law firms that have litigated religion cases in the federal courts between 1980 and 2000. Allied with several highly vocal, evangelical ministries, such as those of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robinson, these legal organizations argue that religious expression is a form of protected speech and thereby gain a greater latitude of interpretation in the courts. The long-term agenda of the New Christian Right as illuminated by this study is to shape church-state jurisprudence in a way that permits free course for the Christian gospel.

Steven P. Brown presents his research and conclusions from a balanced viewpoint. In filling a distinct void in the literature, this book will be of considerable interest to political scientists, legal scholars, law schools and seminaries, and anyone concerned with the intersection of religion and judicial politics.

Excerpt

Because so many people find the gospel annoying, those in powerful
positions have no qualms about making evangelism illegal because it
strikes them as rude and obnoxious. Consequently, it’s become increas
ingly difficult for Christians to share that message with the freedom they
have traditionally had.…[I]t is clear that there is much work to be done
in ensuring that the First Amendment rights of Christians are protected at
home, at school, in the workplace, and in the public arena.

Jay Alan Sekulow, chief counsel,
American Center for Law and Justice, 2000

“1996 will be a pivotal year for your country, your community and your family. Now more than ever Christians need to act out their faith in the public arena.” With that call to action, Coral Ridge Ministries summoned concerned Christians to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to take part in its annual Reclaiming America for Christ conference. The convention promised participants a diverse assortment of workshops, including “What Politicians Really Think about the ‘Religious Right,’” “How to Get Involved in Elective Politics and Win,” “Why Public Education Threatens Religious Liberty,” and “Why Today’s Supreme Court Is at Odds with the Founding Fathers.” After touting the expected presence of several noted conservative leaders, the 1996 conference brochure concluded with this reflection: “For more than thirty years, America has undergone a sustained and wideranging attack on the godly foundation which made our nation a wellordered bastion of liberty, peace, and prosperity. That attack is finally meeting resistance. More and more Christians are awakening to their duty to defend faith and freedom in an increasingly hostile, secular society. Now more than ever, they have discovered the need to reclaim America.”

Although the Coral Ridge convention annually attracts thousands of community and university Christian activists, its “reclaim America” theme has become something of a rallying cry for a much broader social and . . .

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