When Religious and Secular Interests Collide
Faith, Law, and the Religious Exemption Debate
by Scott A. Merriman
September 2017, 197pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-4707-3
$53, £40, 46€, A72
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4708-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

When religious and secular liberties collide, the law is faced with the intricate challenge of maintaining fairness and equality to both sides.

This book examines the countervailing arguments in the religious exemption debate and explains why this issue continues to be so heated and controversial in modern-day America.

Can religion be used to legalize discrimination? When does religion exclude a person or corporation from having to follow a federal or state law, and does our government automatically favor one faith over another when allowing such exemptions? How “religious” must an activity be to qualify as exempt? These are just a few of the difficult questions addressed in When Religious and Secular Interests Collide: Faith, Law, and the Religious Exemption Debate, one of the most modern resources for looking at religion and the law, both historically and in the present. This book enables readers to fully comprehend this important multifaceted issue that continues to be contested in our courts, legislatures, hearts, and minds.

Readers will gain vital historical background about this battleground topic of academic and public interest, see how the contentious issue has changed in the past, and learn about recent developments, including the controversies surrounding religious exemption laws passed in Arkansas and Indiana in 2015. They will also glean knowledge to evaluate claims made about the First Amendment and equal rights and reach their own educated opinions on the subject. Additionally, the work includes primary source documents such as excerpts of important Supreme Court decisions accompanied by insightful analysis of how the religious exemption issue surfaced in modern American culture.


  • Provides up-to-date coverage that highlights the full history of religious exemption cases from the 19th through 21st centuries
  • Presents a detailed analysis of the Hobby Lobby case that stemmed from a corporation's response to portions of the Affordable Care Act, an ongoing topic of both scholarly and public debate
  • Highly valuable to any classroom, public library, or academic library as well as to anyone interested in the interplay between religion and the law in the United States
Scott A. Merriman is a lecturer in history at Troy University. He has authored or edited more than a dozen books, including Religion and the Law in America: An Encyclopedia of Personal Belief and Public Policy, published by ABC-CLIO; The History Highway: A 21st Century Guide to Internet Resources; and History.edu: Essays on Teaching with Technology. His article “Remembering Jonathan Myrick Daniels” was published in Alabama Heritage in winter 2014, and his first book, The History Highway, was a History Book of the Month Club selection. Merriman was named Gamma Beta Phi Teacher of the Year for Troy Montgomery in 2013. His research interests include the First Amendment, the Espionage and Sedition Acts in America, and the interaction of religion and the civil rights movement.


"Scott Merriman addresses a very important part of history that has significance in modern times. In his examination of religious exemption Merriman makes a good argument as to which religion is more prominent than others, and how people choose to use their beliefs as a way to promote their own agenda. This is an important work that will challenge the reader as to the fine line between religion and the law."—Dr. Mitchell Newton-Matza, Author of The Espionage and Sedition Acts: World War I and the Image of Civil Liberties and Intelligent and Honest Radicals: The Chicago Federation of Labor and The Politics of Progression
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