In How Free Can Religion Be? Randall P. Bezanson, who holds an endowed professorship of law at the University of Iowa, surveys the U.S. Supreme Court’s leading cases on the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Of particular interest to students of Mormonism will be Bezanson’s treatment of Reynolds v. United States (1878), in which the Court rejected the claim that the First Amendment protected the Latter-day Saints’ religious practice of plural marriage.
It is clear that How Free Can Religion Be? is a book written by a law professor. Bezanson writes, “This book . . . is neither a history nor a compendium of legal answers. It is, instead, a set of questions and arguments, a written Socratic dialogue, with me on one side, and the reader on the other.” Those unburdened by a legal education can get some taste of what a constitutional law class is like by reading the book, while others who have run the gauntlet of law school will find the stream of question-punctuated commentary familiar.