News

Law Professor Cited in Harper’s Magazine

An article in the August issue of Harper's Magazine cites the expertise of law Professor Steven Green regarding the separation of church and state.

The article, "Like I was Jesus: How to Bring a Nine-Year-Old to Christ," describes the proselytizing activities of the Child Evangelism Fellowship, the largest children's ministry in the world.

In a controversial 2001 Supreme Court decision, the fellowship won the right to hold after-school Bible clubs in public schools, and now holds religious indoctrination sessions for young school children in every U.S. state, along with 158 countries. The Court sided in the religious group's favor, citing use by other after-school clubs such as the Boy Scouts and 4H.

Green, the former legal director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, filed a brief in the landmark case, saying, "The instruction takes place in the same school, with snacks, to attract the kids. It's a little devious. They know if they held it an hour later, the children wouldn't show up. They are trying to dovetail into the school machinery. For many young children, there won't be any distinction between this and the rest of the school day. It is a seamless web."

Green teaches at the Willamette University College of Law and directs Willamette's Center for Religion, Law and Democracy, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the exploration of the role of religion in law and public life. He has extensive litigation experience in issues such as school prayer, public funding of religious institutions, public religious displays, religious discrimination, religious free exercise and freedom of speech. His writings have been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, and he recently published a book on church-state law, Religious Freedom and the Courts.

The full Harper's Magazine article can be accessed online with a magazine subscription at harpers.org/archive/2009/08/0082606. For Willamette's Media Guide of faculty experts, visit www.willamette.edu/mediaguide.

07-21-2009