An insightful and dramatic account of religious conflicts that keep America divided, from the acclaimed author of A People's History of the Supreme Court
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 A People's History of the Supreme Court, 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.
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.