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  • Cited by 4
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2018
Print publication year:
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Book description

Like many beliefs, religious views matter across an individual's life and the life cycle of a family - from birth to marriage, through child-rearing, and, eventually, death. This volume examines clashes over religious liberty within the personal realm of the family. Against swirling religious beliefs, secular values, and legal regulation, this volume offers a forward-looking examination of tensions between religious freedom and the state's protective function. Contributors unpack some of the Court's recent decisions and explain how they set the stage for ongoing disputes. They evaluate religious claims around birth control, circumcision, modesty, religious education, marriage, polygamy, shared parenting, corporal punishment, faith healing, divorce, and the end of life. Authors span legislators, attorneys, academics, journalists, ministers, physicians, child advocates, and representatives of minority faiths. The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law begins an overdue conversation on questions dividing the nation.


‘This book provides a comprehensive look at the tensions between equal rights and religious freedom. It examines not only the ongoing legislative and court battles over access to marriage, but further identifies the battles on the horizon over contraception, polygamy, circumcision, end of life decision-making, premarital agreements, divorce provisions about children's religious upbringing, vaccinations, corporal punishment and similar matters rarely included in other works on law, religion, and the family. It is an exceptionally rich and timely collection.'

June Carbone - Robina Chair in Law, Science, and Technology, University of Minnesota Law School

‘In this volume, an all-star cast of contemporary thinkers provide a timely and important conversation on an issue of great complexity and urgency, the intersection of religion, law, and family. This book will be essential reading to understand where we are.'

Kyle Harper - Senior Vice President and Provost, Professor of Classics and Letters, University of Oklahoma

'The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law is an important and valuable book. Over the course of almost 700 pages, essays from a variety of different perspectives address many different contexts and issues that bring religion, religious liberty, and family law into contact and often conflict. … Scholars of family law and law and religion will benefit from the collection’s comprehensiveness and from excellent scholarship exploring facets of the relationship between religion and family that may at times be unfamiliar. The book is also an invaluable resource for anyone seeking an overview of the connections between religion, religious liberty, and family law, and it provides all readers with deep engagement on specific topics. A book of this length and scope is ambitious, and this collection delivers on its promise.'

Kathleen Brady Source: Oxford Review

'The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law dialogue also highlights the need to evaluate harm on both sides of the ledger. This includes consideration of harm that results when religious individuals or organizations are not accommodated. In the pharmaceutical or medical context, for example, lack of accommodations may ultimately result in less providers and less organizations willing to provide care … Lack of religious accommodations in the adoption or foster care context may result in less agencies finding homes for children in need. The family, as a microcosm of our broader society, provides a familiar context in which to evaluate many of these pressing concerns regarding religious accommodations. The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law provides an important discussion highlighting a range of perspectives on these issues, and it will likely serve as a valuable contribution for years to come.'

Stephanie Barclay Source: Family Law Quarterly

'It is no accident that there are a broad range of issues for this volume to address. It addresses them well, and readers with an interest in religion, religious liberty, or family life will benefit from this book.'

Douglas Laycock Source: Journal of Church and State

'… this volume provides a lot of important evidence and argument for those who are re-thinking specific controversies in family law or attempting to re-imagine the basic concepts of family law such as the nature of marriage. Prof. Wilson’s attempt to balance views on some of these contested issues and the mix of theoretical, historical, and empirical work that the authors bring to bear is a welcome addition to the literature in this field.'

Marie Failinger Source: University of Illinois Law Review Online

'… this is an excellent collection. For those looking at how family law and religion interact in the United States, it is a one-stop shop filled with everything they could possibly need.'

Russell Sandberg Source: Ecclesiastical Law Journal

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