Religious Freedom in America
A Reference Handbook
by Michael C. LeMay
January 2018, 350pp, 6x9
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5104-9
$60, 50€, A86
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5105-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

America is embroiled in controversies regarding freedom and expression of religion—ironic, for a country founded as a secular republic.

This book provides the answers to controversial questions about religious liberties in the United States and connected issues through balanced, thorough, and nonjudgmental coverage of the issues in a reference format.

The subject of religious freedom is important to all American citizens, regardless of religious affiliation or ethnicity. Are the rights of religious individuals being eroded, or is religion being unfairly used to deny basic secular rights to individuals? How will religious institutions adapt to changes in legislation that have an impact on how they operate? Does the Supreme Court have the right to enforce these changes? Finally, how can the precarious separation of church and state be maintained while simultaneously respecting both institutions?

This single-volume work provides an introduction that addresses the historical background of religious freedom in America, accurately explains the latest legal developments in religious freedom in the United States, and presents an unbiased account of the probable impact of the new Freedom of Religion laws in the continuing culture war. Readers will gain insight into key controversies such as prayer in public schools, creationism versus evolution, abortion, religious objections to medical care, religious displays in public places, same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, and state and federal religious freedom acts. The book also includes perspective essays by outside contributors, a selection of useful primary documents, a listing of print and nonprint resources, a chronology, and a glossary of terms.


  • Ideally suited for students and general readers who want to learn more about the history and current events concerning religious freedom in an easy-to-understand fashion
  • Includes a Perspectives chapter that allows readers to "hear" opposing voices from individuals who are concerned with religious freedom in America
  • Presents the facts about religious freedom so that readers can reach their own conclusions
  • Highlights the challenge of reaching an agreement on the line of church/state separation that exempts some individuals from obeying laws because of their religious beliefs in an increasingly pluralistic society comprising members of diverse faiths
Michael C. LeMay, PhD, is professor emeritus of political science at California State University–San Bernardino with 35 years experience teaching at the university level. He is author of more than two dozen academic books and has authored many books with ABC-CLIO including Global Pandemic Threats; Illegal Immigration, 1ed, 2ed; Doctors at the Borders; and Perspectives on Immigration, 3 Vols. His book The American Political Party System was selected by Choice as a 2017 Outstanding Academic Title.


"A valuable addition for any librarian that collects reference material on the Constitution, the law in general, or American history."—ARBAonline, July 1, 2018

Contemporary World Issues

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

24-hour cable news. Millions of internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about.


Subject coverage spans six main categories:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Environment
  • Gender and Ethnicity
  • Politics, Law, and Government
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • Society
Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that support statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
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