Atheist Exceptionalism: Atheism, Religion, and the United States Supreme Court, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Atheist Exceptionalism

Atheism, Religion, and the United States Supreme Court, 1st Edition

By Ethan G. Quillen


202 pages

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pub: 2018-05-23
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Due to its Constitution, and particularly to that Constitution’s First Amendment, the relationship between religion and politics in the United States is rather unusual. This is especially the case concerning the manner with which religious terminology is defined via the discourse adopted by the United States Supreme Court, and the larger American judicial system. Focusing on the religious term of Atheism, this book presents both the discourse itself, in the form of case decisions, as well as an analysis of that discourse. The work thus provides an essential introduction and discussion of both Atheism as a concept and the influence that judicial decisions have on the way we perceive the meaning of religious terminology in a national context.

As a singular source on the Supreme, Circuit, and District Court cases concerning Atheism and its judicial definition, the book offers convenient access to this discourse for researchers and students. The discursive analysis further provides an original theoretical insight into how the term ‘Atheism’ has been judicially defined. As such, it will be a valuable resource for scholars of religion and law, as well as those interested in the definition and study of Atheism.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Exceptionalism of American Atheism

Part I: Methodology and Histories

Chapter One: Discourse Analysis and the Definition of Atheism

Chapter Two: The Story of America

Chapter Three: The United States Supreme Court and American Religion

Part II: Discourse

Chapter Four: McCollum v. Board of Education (1948)

Chapter Five: Torcaso v. Watkins (1961)

Chapter Six: Abington v. Schempp/Murray v. Curlett (1963)

Chapter Seven: Welsh v. United States (1970)

Chapter Eight: Elk Grove v. Newdow (2004)

Chapter Nine: Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation (2007)

Chapter Ten: Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014)

Part Three: Conclusions and Consequences

Conclusion: Atheism, an American Religion

About the Author

Ethan G. Quillen is an Independent Scholar whose research interests are in the areas of Religion, with a particular focus on Atheism and Secularism, Ethnography and Literature, and Discourse Analysis. He has published on these and related areas.

About the Series

ICLARS Series on Law and Religion

ICLARS Series on Law and Religion

The ICLARS Series on Law and Religion is designed to provide a forum for the rapidly expanding field of research in law and religion. The series is published in association with the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, an international network of scholars and experts of law and religion founded in 2007 with the aim of providing a place where information, data and opinions can easily be exchanged among members and made available to the broader scientific community ( The series aims to become a primary source for students and scholars while presenting authors with a valuable means to reach a wide and growing readership.

The series editors are currently welcoming proposals for this new series on any matter falling under ‘law and religion’ widely defined. Collections arising from important conferences and events are welcome as well as monographs by both established names and new voices (including monographs based on doctoral dissertations). Also of interest are interdisciplinary works and studies of particular jurisdictions.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Civil Rights
LAW / Constitutional
RELIGION / Atheism
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Methodology