God on Trial: Dispatches from America's Religious Battlefields

Peter Irons, Author
Peter Irons, Author . Viking $26.95 (362p) ISBN 978-0-670-03851-0
Reviewed on: 04/02/2007
Release date: 06/01/2007
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-1-4295-3220-4
Paperback - 362 pages - 978-0-14-311375-1
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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. (May 21)

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