Religion And The State: Some Pointed Questions

Religion, the Courts, and Public Policy, by Robert F. Drinan, S. J. (McGraw-Hill, 1963, 261 pp., $5.98), is reviewed by John Vanden Berg, professor of economics, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

No domestic problem facing the people of the United States today is of greater consequence than that of the relationship of religion and the state. For on the solution to this rests the future of freedom in this country. The immediate occasion of the problem is found most specifically in questions related to the place of religion in public schools and the relationship between the government and the non-state school. The problem is also found in the field of Sabbath laws.

Robert F. Drinan, dean of the Boston College Law School, has made a splendid contribution to the dialogue on these vital issues, with particular emphasis on problems in education. In a lucid and fascinating manner he clarifies historical and constitutional contexts and the positions of the major faiths.

Dean Drinan does more, however, than merely relate historical, constitutional, and sectarian positions; he has some pointed questions to ask and some provocative observations to make. He does so graciously but with forthrightness and candor.

Although these questions and observations are directed to all Americans, this Protestant reviewer believes they have special significance for Protestants, for they reveal sharply the Protestant dilemma in regard to questions of religion, the state, and education. Dean Drinan observes that although most Protestants “desire the public school atmosphere to be ‘friendly’ to religion.” they have in fact aligned themselves with “most secular humanists and the Jewish community [to] constitute ...

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