The core of Current Conflicts in Law and Religion takes the reader through eleven hot-topic issues in law and religion in twenty-first century society:
The role of religious voices in the political debate;
Religious voices in the abortion rights debate;
The legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States;
The ordination of LGBT clergy;
Prayer and religious exercises in the public schools;
The place of the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance;
Evolution versus Creationism;
The place of Intelligent Design in the public school curriculum;
The patient's right to refuse medical treatment based on religious belief;
The Affordable Care Act, RFRA and the Free Exercise Clause; and
International issues in law and religion.
One could well view that last hot-topic as containing several hot-topics. But, even with counting it as one hot-topic, Professor James has presented in this one book a review of at least eleven hot-topics in law and religion in contemporary society. Yet, the cases the book covers span a vast expanse of time. They are as old as Reynolds v. United States (1879), and as new as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (2014).
Two things set this book apart from others that discuss these two clauses of the Constitution. First, the book devotes a lengthy first chapter to discussing the basic tenets of some world religions. Some of these religions are well-known and often talked about; their tenets are well-known, even to non-adherents. Others are not-so-well-known, are even obscure; their tenets are hardly known or talked about.
Second, the book begins each chapter with a true story (with names and places changed or otherwise disguised) that depicts one or more of the current conflicts in law and religion.
Those who pick it up should prepare to embark upon a journey through world religions, and a journey through the conflicts mankind has created out of something that should unite and foster love.
Professor Vaughn E. James is the Robert H. Bean Professor and Director of the LL.M. Program in United States Legal Studies at Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock, Texas. An ordained Minister of Religion, Professor James is a graduate of both the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary and Newburgh Theological Seminary. A graduate of Syracuse University College of Law, he is licensed to practice in New York and Texas, in the federal Northern District of Texas, and before the United States Tax Court. He is also an IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer. A contributing editor of the Nonprofit Law Professors Blog, his previous publications include The Alzheimer's Advisor: A Caregiver's Guide to Dealing with the Tough Legal and Practical Issues (AMACOM, 2008); Interfaith Relations: Practical Guidelines and Steps to Living Together in Harmony, 75 CONSCIENCE AND LIBERTY 86 (2014); The African-American Church, Political Activity and Tax Exemption, 37 SETON HALL LAW REVIEW 371 (2007); and Reaping Where They Have Not Sowed: Have American Churches Failed to Satisfy the Requirements for the Religious Tax Exemption?, 43 THE CATHOLIC LAWYER 29 (2004).