The First Amendment and State Bans on Teachers' Religious Garb : Analyzing the Historic Origins of Contemporary Legal Challenges in the United States book cover
1st Edition

The First Amendment and State Bans on Teachers' Religious Garb
Analyzing the Historic Origins of Contemporary Legal Challenges in the United States

ISBN 9780367188306
Published September 4, 2019 by Routledge
290 Pages

SAVE ~ $32.00
was $160.00
USD $128.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Examining the twelve-decade legal conflict of government bans on religious garb worn by teachers in U.S. public schools, this book provides comprehensive documentation and analysis of the historical origins and subsequent development of teachers’ religious garb in relation to contemporary legal challenges within the United Nations and the European Union.

By identifying and correcting factual errors in the literature about historical bans on teachers’ garb, Walker demonstrates that there are still substantial and unresolved legal questions to the constitutionality of state garb statutes and reflects on how the contemporary conflicts are historically rooted. Showcased through a wealth of laws and case studies, this book is divided into eight clear and concise chapters and answers questions such as: what are anti-religious-garb laws?; how have the state and federal court decisions evolved?; what are the constitutional standards?; what are the establishment clause and free exercise clause arguments?; and how has this impacted current debates on teachers’ religious garb?, before concluding with an informative summary of the points discussed throughout.

The First Amendment and State Bans on Teachers’ Religious Garb is the ideal resource for researchers, academics, and postgraduate students in the fields of education, religion, education policy, sociology of education, and law, or those looking to explore an in-depth development of the laws and debates surrounding teachers’ religious garb within the last 125 years.

Table of Contents

List of Tables





Chapter I - The Problem and the Plan

Chapter II - How Did We Get Here

Chapter III - What are the Constitutional Standards?

Chapter IV - How Do We Proceed?

Chapter V - What are the Establishment Clause Arguments?

Chapter VI - What are the Free Exercise Clause Arguments?

Chapter VII - Discussion and Decision

Chapter VIII - What Have We Learned?

Case Abbreviations


View More



    Rev. Dr. Nathan C. Walker is executive director of 1791 Delegates. He has studied law and religion at Harvard and Columbia universities, US.

    Featured Author Profiles

    Author - Nathan C.  Walker

    Nathan C. Walker

    Executive Director, 1791 Delegates
    Philadelphia, PA | New York, NY |

    Learn more about Nathan C. Walker »


    “As Walker observes, the perennial contest between political secularism and religious liberty is hardly new, but seems to have hit a fevered pitch not just in the United States, but in Europe as well. The author astutely unpacks one controversial issue at the heart of that tension: the permissibility of a state to ban public school teachers from donning religious garb while they work. The focus of the author’s study is a landmark statutory law passed in 1894 in Pennsylvania that did precisely that, and remains the only one of its kind unsuccessfully challenged in the U.S. […] The legal assessment focuses on the extent to which the Pennsylvania law potentially contradicts both the establishment of religion and the free exercise clauses of the First Amendment. The author finally concludes that the law is fundamentally indefensible on both counts. Among other reasons, it coercively “suppresses the religious identities of public servants,” and favors some faiths over others. [The author’s] command of the germane material – legal, historical, and even philosophical – is simply extraordinary. More than a legal argument, the book is a sweeping account of the nature of public education within a liberal democracy—its proper purposes and limitations. He also sensibly considers the broader international context, especially cases that have come before the European Court of Human Rights. The author’s argument is a complex one, but written in the kind of accessible, jargon-free prose that should be digestible for even the layperson.  A thorough, magisterial account of a timely and historically important legal debate.”

     Kirkus Reviews


    "Walker has opened up a topic that is of immediate interest today——namely various bans in the U.S. and other countries on religious garb, especially the Muslim head covering—but which he documents has a 125-year history in the United States. Taking the reader through this history and its intended targets, and building a solid foundation in understanding of law and religious liberty, Walker makes a clear and well-constructed argument for supporting the First Amendment through policy and legal frameworks in the schools."

    - Susan L. Douglass is K-14 Education Outreach Consultant at Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, USA.