"A splendid presentation of the First Amendment" – Choice magazine
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First Amendment in focus

'no establishment' and 'free exercise'
History, news and case law distilled into coherent chronicle


The story of the First Amendment during the past eight years has been one of continual revision by the judiciary and significant expansion of executive discretion for the advancement of “faith-based initiatives.”


Author Bruce T. Murray explores the “First Liberty” – past and present – in his new University of Massachusetts Press book, Religious Liberty in America: The First Amendment in Historical and Contemporary Perspective.

Since colonial times, Americans have disagreed about the proper role of religion in public life and where to draw the line between church and state. In this volume, Murray re-examines these debates and distills the volumes of case law they have generated. He places particular emphasis on contemporary controversies, such as religious symbols in the public square, the Pledge of Allegiance – with the words "under God" – and faith-based initiatives. In addition, Murray explores the Supreme Court's evolution in its interpretion of the First Amendment for the past 200-plus years — including the present-day Court with its newest members, John Roberts and Sam Alito.

Religious Liberty in America was selected by Choice – a publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries – as an “Outstanding Academic Book" for 2008.

“This book is a splendid presentation of the First Amendment – ‘with civil religion as a parallel theme’ – especially as presently related to so many issues in American political and religious life. Other books on these issues have been appearing of late, but none as clear and thorough as this one.”
G.H. Shriver, Professor Emeritus, Georgia Southern University

Religious Liberty in America is available at numerous university libraries, and it may be purchased from the University of Massachusetts Press.

Bruce T. Murray is an educational writer and former editor with the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register. Find out more about the author on SageLaw.

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