Steven K. Green

Fred H. Paulus Professor of Law, Director of the Center for Religion, Law & Democracy

Steven K. Green is the Fred H. Paulus Professor of Law and Affiliated Professor of History at Willamette University where he teaches courses in Constitutional Law, First Amendment, Legal History, Jurisprudence, and Criminal Law in the College of Law, and Legal History and American Religious History in the College of Liberal Arts. In addition, Professor Green directs the interdisciplinary Center for Religion, Law and Democracy, one of Willamette’s Centers of Excellence.

Professor Green joined the Willamette faculty in August 2001, after serving for 10 years as legal director and special counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C., public interest organization that concentrates on First Amendment issues. Professor Green has extensive litigation and appellate experience in First Amendment law involving issues such as school prayer, public funding of religious institutions, public religious displays, religious discrimination, religious free exercise and freedom of speech. He has participated in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), the Cleveland school vouchers case; Mitchell v. Helms (2000), authorizing state-paid computers and educational equipment to religious schools; and Santa Fe Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Doe (2000), striking prayer at public school football games. He regularly submits amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) briefs at the U.S. Supreme Court, most recently co-authoring two amicus briefs in the 2013-14 term.

In addition, Professor Green has significant legislative experience, having testified before Congress and several state legislatures. He helped draft federal and state laws affecting religious liberty interests, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993), the Religious Land-Use and Institutionalized Persons Protection Act (2000), and the Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act (2009).

Professor Green is a widely sought speaker at national conferences and a prolific author whose writings have been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts. He is the author of Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding (Oxford University Press, 2015), The Bible, the School, and the Constitution: The Clash that Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine (Oxford, 2012); The Second Disestablishment: Church and State in Nineteenth Century America (Oxford, 2010), co-author of Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court (Baylor, 2008), and a contributor to the Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties and the Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law, among others. He is currently writing a new book on church and state in the middle of the twentieth century. Professor Green holds a Ph.D. in American constitutional history and an M.A. in American religious history from the University of North Carolina, a J.D. from the University of Texas, and a B.A. in history and political science, Phi Beta Kappa, from Texas Christian University. He also took post-graduate study at Duke Law and Divinity Schools.

Professor Green serves on the public policy board of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. He also serves on the editorial council of the Journal of Church and State and the legal advisory committee of the National Center for Science Education. He previously served on the religious liberty committee of the National Council of Churches and as recorder for the Oregon Law Commission's study of the faith-based initiative in Oregon.

In 2014 and 2006, Professor Green received the Robert L. Misner Award for Excellence in Scholarship, which was established in memory of former College of Law Dean and Professor Robert L. Misner. Professor Green also received the 2003 Professor of the Year Award for Teaching.


  • J.D. University of Texas
  • Ph.D. University of North Carolina
  • M.A. University of North Carolina
  • B.A. Texas Christian University, Phi Beta Kappa


  • Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding (Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • The Bible, the School, and the Constitution: The Clash that Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine (Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • The Second Disestablishment: Church and State in Nineteenth-Century American (Oxford University Press, 2010).
  • Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court with Ronald B. Flowers and Melissa Rogers (Baylor University Press, 2008).

Book Chapters

  • “The Public Funding of Private Religious Schools,” in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Education, Michael Waggoner, ed. (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • “The Nineteenth-Century ‘School Question’: An Episode in Religious Intolerance or an Expansion of Religious Freedom?” in The Lively Experiment: The Story of Religious Toleration in America, Chris Beneke, ed. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).
  • “The Separation of Church and State in the United States,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History (Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • “The First School Prayer Debate and its Impact on Modern Church-State Doctrine,” in Religious Freedom in America (University of Oklahoma Press, 2015).
  • “The Legacy of People v. Philips for the Twentieth Century,” in Religious Freedom in America (forthcoming, NYU Press, 2014).
  •  “Separationism as an Organizing Principle,” in The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religious Diversity (Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2013).
  • “Religion and Law,” in The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to American Legal History (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Co., 2013).
  • “School Prayer,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Political and Legal History (Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • “The 'Second Disestablishment': The Evolution of the Nineteenth Century Understandings of Separation of Church and State,” in No Establishment of Religion: America's Contribution to Religious Liberty, John Witte, Jr., ed. (Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • “In Bad Faith: The Corruption of Charitable Choice,” in Fundamentalism and the Rule of Law, Marci Hamilton, ed. (Palgrave MacMillan Pub., 2010).
  • “Church and State in the Nineteenth Century,” in Oxford Handbook on Church and State in the United States, Derek H. Davis, ed. (Oxford University Press, 2010).
  • “William Strong,” in The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law, Roger K. Newman, ed. (Yale University Press, 2009).
  •  “Respecting Respective Spheres: The Role of Religion in Public Life,” in M. Hogan and L. Frederking, eds., The American Experiment Religious Freedom (Garaventa Center, 2008).
  • “Seminal or Symbolic: The Meaning of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris and it's Future Impact,” in Paul Peterson, ed., What's Next for School Vouchers (Hoover Institute Press/Stanford University Press, 2003).


  • The Slow, Tragic Demise of Standing in Establishment Clause Challenges, 5 Advance 177 (Fall 2011).
  • Understanding the 'Christian Nation' Myth, 2010 Cardozo Law Review De Novo 245 (2010).
  • All Things Not Being Equal: Reconciling Student Religious Expression in Public Schools, 42 U.C. Davis Law Review 843 (2009).
  • The Insignificance of the Blaine Amendment, 2008 B.Y.U. Law Review 295 (2008).
  • Reconciling the Irreconcilable: Military Chaplains and the First Amendment, 110 West Virginia Law Review 167 (2007).
  • Religious Liberty as a Positive and Negative Right, 70 Albany Law Review 101 (2007).
  • A 'Spacious Conception': Separationism as an Idea, 85 Oregon Law Review 443 (2006).
  • Religion Clause Federalism: State Flexibility over Religious Matters and the 'One-Way Ratchet', 56 Emory Law Journal 107 (2006).
  • 'Bad History': The Lure of History in Establishment Clause Adjudication, 81 Notre Dame Law Review 101 (2006).
  • A 'Legacy of Discrimination?' The Rhetoric and Reality of the Faith Based Initiative: Oregon as a Case Study, 84 Oregon Law Review 725 (2005).
  • Federalism and the Establishment Clause: A Reassessment, 38 Creighton Law Review 761 (June 2005).
  • Locke v. Davey and the Limits to Neutrality Theory, 77 Temple Law Review 913 (Winter 2004).
  • 'Blaming Blaine': The Mixed Legacy of the Blaine Amendment, 2 First Amendment Law Review 107 (Winter 2003).
  • Religious Discrimination, Public Funding, and Constitutional Values, 30 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 1 (Fall 2002).
  • Of (Un)Equal Jurisprudential Pedigree: Rectifying the Imbalance Between Separation and Neutrality, 43 Boston College Law Review 1111 (Sept. 2002).
  • The Illusionary Aspect of 'Private Choice,' 38 Willamette Law Review 549 (Fall 2002).
  • Critical Legal Issues Involving Vouchers, 75 St. John's Univ. Law Review 209 (Spring 2001).
  • The Constitutionality of Vouchers After Mitchell v. Helms, 57 N.Y.U. Annual Survey of American Law 57 (2001).
  • The Ambiguity of Neutrality, 86 Cornell Law Review 101 (March 2001).
  • The Fount of Everything Just and Right? The Ten Commandments as a Source of American Law, 13 Journal of Law and Religion 101 (2000).