That Godless Court: Supreme Court Decision on Church-State Relationships

By Ronald B. Flowers
Louisville, KY : Westminster/John Knox (1994). 177 Pages.

Reviewed by
6.2 (Fall 1995) : 247-248

Should the Supreme Court be godless? that is, "Where is the line between religion and civil authority in this country?" One thing for certain it "is a legal, ultimately a constitutional, concept" (ix). The Supreme Court's role as final arbiter of constitutional issues makes its decisions church-related or church-impacting and the church participates as individual voters in the selection of the court. That is, in spite of the lines either government or church draw on the matter of church-state relations, each ultimately impacts the other. Add to the confusion a media that offers "brief and superficial" reports of the court's activities and decisions and you have the current situation in our country.

 Ronald B. Flowers, Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at Texas University, writes for pastors and lay people about the relation between church and state as reflected in the decisions of the Supreme Court. He would like to get his readership beyond the perceived barriers of understanding church-state relations.

"An explanation of what the court has done over the years in the highly volatile area of church-state decisions and a strong argument for the care and nurturing of religious freedom" (back cover). Treating topics such as government aid to church-related schools and prayer in public schools, the author assists the reader in thinking through the issues as well as the Court's rulings.

In spite of the book's legal and technical nature, Flowers has worked hard to simplify and explain complex issues. The book is recommended to those interested in the timely and significant arena of church-state relations, or as the author corrects "relationships between religion and civil authority" (x).