Deep Conviction: True Stories of Ordinary Americans Fighting for the Freedom to Live Their Beliefs

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$24.99  $23.24
Shadow Mountain
Publish Date
6.3 X 1.2 X 8.8 inches | 1.3 pounds
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About the Author

Steven T. Collis is the Chair of Religious Institutions and First Amendment Practice Group at Holland & Hart LLP. He regularly represents religious institutions, school districts, and traditional employers nationwide regarding a broad range of religious liberty issues. He is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where he teaches courses on religious liberty law. Steven received his MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University, and received his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. He and his wife have four children and reside in Colorado.


"Religious freedom is a pillar of the First Amendment of the Constitution, and yet it is a right that is often over-simplified, misconstrued, and contested. Collis, a professor of law and practicing lawyer specializing in religious liberty, tackles this difficult topic through four different and instructive examples from different eras in American history. While the situations are varied, each reveals the role that power plays in applying the law and that the nature and dynamics of social mores and political clout change over time. Collis does a superb job of presenting these cases clearly and thoroughly and without strong bias, focusing on the letter of the law and its implications. Truly an accessible and fascinating narrative for all readers interested in how diverse battles over First Amendment rights and religious freedom have shaped people's lives and the nation at large."-- "Booklist" (5/29/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"Collis selects four very different case studies to illustrate the challenges of protecting religious freedom. The author begins in 1812 with a Catholic priest who is asked to reveal information from a private confession. In 1959, an atheist in Maryland won a legal battle to become a notary without having to declare a belief in God. A more complex case was heard in 1990 involving a member of the Klamath tribe and his appeal to freely practice his beliefs (Oregon v. Smith). The Supreme Court held that the state could prohibit certain religious practices as long as it wasn't targeting any specific religion. The final case outlined is the recent and highly publicized Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Court, in a 7-2 vote, decided that the Commission's hostility to religion invalidated the lower court's ruling. Collis is an effective storyteller...his narrative... benefits from extensive research and generous use of court transcripts and interviews. Readers interested in religious liberty will find this work to be an accessible exploration of a much-disputed area of constitutional law."-- "Library Journal" (6/1/2019 12:00:00 AM)

"Collis takes complex legal theories and disputes and brings them to life in a way that will make them engaging for readers with no legal background. The stories in this book illustrate the significant human toll that state regulation of religious exercise can exact, but they also show the interests of government and the legitimate concerns some may have with allowing conscientious objectors an exception to laws that apply to most others. Even-handed and thoughtful, yet paced like a good work of literature, Deep Conviction will leave readers with a deeper understanding of the relationship between church and state. Through the eyes of people affected on an intimate level, the book illuminates how religious liberty law ended up where it is today. The stories--riveting and painstakingly researched--will allow readers to be thoughtful about where the law should go, and they will help readers understand the differing viewpoints on these most important of issues. A timely and important contribution."

--Douglas Laycock, Professor of Law and Religious Studies, University of Virginia Law School and author of a five-volume collection: Religious Liberty and numerous scholarly articles and has argued several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court "Library Journal" (6/1/2019 12:00:00 AM)