The First Amendment
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Criticism of Religious Liberty in America


“The nature of the journalist [sic] profession requires reporters to know a few things about a great many topics. Even journalists who focus on specialized fields have only superficial knowledge of the fields they are covering. True to form, Bruce T. Murray’s book, Religious Liberty in America, provides us with a river of information that is a mile wide but only an inch deep.”
Anthony Gill, professor of political science, University of Washington, from the Journal of Media and Religion, January, 2009


“Murray's treatment of this contentious history is frustratingly uneven. It ranges from thoughtful to glib. At times, the historical discussion enters into dangerously misleading territory. Murray's laudable aims of brevity and accessibility founder on these unfortunate flaws. ... Instead of a guide that makes some sense of the history of these issues, Murray's book reads like a hastily collected cluster of essays on related topics.”
Adam Laats, Assistant Professor, School of Education, Binghamton University, from the History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 49, No. 3 (August 2009)


“Murray proposes to provide a background that students and journalists need to approach the field of religious liberty in America. Unfortunately, he has not. ... The resulting work which, to be fair, is quite accessible to a general audience ... is an a-historical oversimplification and a meandering through a serious subject to which the author seems to have had only fleeting exposure.”
Eric Mazur, associate professor of religious studies, Virginia Wesleyan College, from the Cambridge Journal of Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, March, 2009.


“The second chapter, entitled ‘Understanding People of Faith,’ is the most flawed section of the book. ... The very title of of this chapter reveals a most problematic presupposition, namely that the so-called religious and nonreligious are different in kind. This uncritically held assumption about the distinction between the religious and nonreligious not only hinders a more profound understanding of much to do with religion, but also truncates analysis of some of the issues with which Murray seems most concerned.”
Brandon M. Crowe, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Arizona State University
(from Reviews in Religion & Theology, History and Sociology of Religion, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Vol. 17, Issue 2, 2010)


“Bruce T. Murray’s Religious Liberty in America ... is thought provoking in relation to civil religion, religion in schools, and the sociology of American religion, but surely not in the way that Murray intended it to be. ... Although the book's subtitle indicates that its focus is the First Amendment, the development of legal doctrine forms only part of the tale Murray seeks to tell. What he has in mind, instead, is to explain how American society accommodates diversity of religious belief and practice.”
Kevin R.C. Gutzman, History Department, Western Connecticut State University, the Independent Review, Winter, 2009


Religious Liberty in America is written by a journalist for journalists, students, and the general public. It is not a scholarly investigation but a topically arranged conversation about and foray into religious liberty issues. Religious studies and constitutional scholars will find little new here; it is not for them.”
— William J. Hawk, Professor of Social & Political Philosophy, Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, James Madison University (from the Religious Studies Review, Volume 36, Issue 2, June, 2010)


“This is a useful primer, even if students of history seeking more texture might find it limited.”
David A. Reichard, California State University Monterey Bay, The History Teacher, February 2009