Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The American Constitution and Religion

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The American Constitution and Religion

Article excerpt

The American Constitution and Religion. By Richard J. Regan. (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2013, Pp. ix, 282. $24.95, paper.)

Richard J. Regan is a Jesuit priest with degrees in law and political science. He has published extensively on ancient and medieval philosophy and the thought of Thomas Aquinas. In this useful and thought-provoking volume he analyses Supreme Court cases involving the First Amendment's freedom of religion clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The interpretation and, more significantly, the application of this clause have been contested from the time of the founding until today and the litigiousness shows no sign of abating. Consequently, the Supreme Court has frequently had to rule on cases regarding religious liberty and what limits, if any, should apply. This reviewer counted 162 cases discussed in this book.

Regan opens with a chapter on the historical background of the First Amendment and then proceeds to analyze the cases which are arranged topically, e.g. government aid to church-related schools, conscientious objection to war, etc. He concludes with a brief treatise on "Western Traditions of Conscience" which puts the specific cases in a wider philosophical context. …

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