If there is one thing that religion clause scholars generally agree on (in fact, there may be only one thing), it is the unsatisfactory quality of religion clause doctrine, and especially Establishment Clause jurisprudence. Mark Strasser’s (Capital University) new book, Religion, Education and the State: An Unprincipled Doctrine in Search of Moorings (Ashgate 2011), appears to fit squarely within the genre. The publisher’s description follows.
In the context of education, Church and State issues are of growing importance and appear to be increasingly divisive. This volume critically examines the developing jurisprudence relating to religion in the schools beginning with Everson v. Board of Education, where the US Supreme Court discussed the wall of separation between Church and State. The study traces both how the Court’s views have evolved during this period and how, through recharacterizations of past opinions and the facts underlying them, the Court has appeared to interpret Establishment Clause guarantees in light of the past jurisprudence when in reality that jurisprudence has been turned on its head. The Court not only offers an unstable jurisprudence that is more likely to promote than avoid the problems that the Establishment Clause was designed to prevent, but approaches Establishment Clause issues in a way that decreases the likelihood that an acceptable compromise on these important issues can be reached.
The study focuses on the situation in the US but the important issue of religion, education and the state has great relevance in many jurisdictions.