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Steven Shiffrin's The Religious Left and Church-State Relations is a truly remarkable book in many respects. I shall briefly note a few of its striking features, including some illustrative passages, and outline a number of its central themes, before tackling what for me is its most challenging and perplexing set of theses – the relations between constitutional and political discourse, and between religious liberals, on the one hand, and religious conservatives and secular liberals on the other.

We might well think of this as two books in one: a book about the constitutional law of free exercise and non-establishment, and a book about theories of public reason and religious discourse in our political life. Shiffrin manages to squeeze all this into 136 pages of readable, eloquent, illuminating text, relegating his underlying deep, comprehensive, and penetrating scholarship in a wide range of disciplines to 99 pages of footnotes. Given the smaller type of the footnotes and the absence of page breaks in that part of the book, I was somewhat tempted to see if the footnotes actually exceeded the text, but resisted.


First Amendment | Law | Religion Law


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