cutting-edge scholarship

The Family Law and Policy Program is the home for scholarship around the family and our major conferences generate large-scale reflections on the family. To date, we have two significant anthologies published by Cambridge University Press that have grown out of program-supported conferences, one at Yale University in January 2017 and one at the University of Illinois in December 2015.

BOOK Just released:

Religious Freedom


William N. Eskridge, Jr. & Robin Fretwell Wilson, eds., Cambridge University Press, forthcoming

The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) are strongly contested by certain faith communities, and this confrontation has become increasingly pronounced following the adjudication of a number of legal cases. As the strident arguments of both sides enter a heated political arena, it brings forward the deeply contested question of whether there is any possibility of both communities’ contested positions being reconciled under the same law. This volume assembles impactful voices from the faith, LGBT advocacy, legal, and academic communities - from the Human Rights Campaign and ACLU to the National Association of Evangelicals and Catholic and LDS churches. The contributors offer a 360-degree view of culture-war conflicts around faith and sexuality - from Obergefell to  to Masterpiece Cakeshop - and explore whether communities with such profound differences in belief are able to reach mutually acceptable solutions in order to both live with integrity.


Advance Praise:

“Taken together, this outstanding collection of essays is an enlightening, civil and ultimately hopeful dialogue about one of the most urgent public policy questions of our time. Essential reading for every American who cares about religious freedom, equality and the prospects for finding common ground across our deepest differences.”

-Charles C. Haynes, Founding Director, Religious Freedom Center, Freedom Forum Institute

“This superbly edited, richly diverse, and impressively comprehensive volume promises a 360-degree vantage on one of the most complex and polarizing issues of our day - and it delivers. Whether you already know what you think, or are coming fresh to the controversy, you will find these pages to be rich in wisdom and glowing with the spirit and ingenuity of American pluralism.”

-Jonathan Rauch, Brookings Institution

“This big, bold, and bracing book is pulsing with good will and earnest effort to reconcile competing claims of religious freedom and sexual liberty, especially for LGBTQ Parties. Professors Wilson and Eskridge, Jr, have long been national leaders in this reconciliation effort, and deserve high praise for assembling such a vast collection of leading scholars. This will be the go-to book for the next generation.”

-John Witte, Jr., Director, Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University

“Professors Eskridge, Jr., and Wilson have collected an enlightening and engaging collection of views and arguments that covers the full conversation about whether and how 'common ground' between religious freedom and LGBT rights is possible. In this volume, legal scholars, activists, theologians, historians, and public officials explore not only the history, justifications, and implications of religious liberty’s foundational status, but also the contemporary challenges to it.”

-Richard W. Garnett, Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School

Published Reviews:

“[This book] should be required reading for every state lawmaker .”

-Kathie Obradovich, The Des Moines Register

“Activists often seek total victory for their side. Refreshingly, most of the authors in Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for the Common Good believe that there is room for compromise.” “Collectively, the chapters make an excellent case that it is possible to better protect LGBT rights without forcing citizens such as Barronelle Stutzman to choose between their professions and their religious convictions. One can only hope that it finds its way into the hands of state legislators throughout the country.”

-Mark David Hall, Professor of Politics, George Fox University



Family Law

Contested Place

Like many beliefs, religious views matter across an individual's life and the life cycle of a family - from birth to marriage, through child-rearing, and, eventually, death. This volume examines clashes over religious liberty within the personal realm of the family. Against swirling religious beliefs, secular values, and legal regulation, this volume offers a forward-looking examination of tensions between religious freedom and the state's protective function. Contributors unpack some of the Court's recent decisions and explain how they set the stage for ongoing disputes. They evaluate religious claims around birth control, circumcision, modesty, religious education, marriage, polygamy, shared parenting, corporal punishment, faith healing, divorce, and the end of life. Authors span legislators, attorneys, academics, journalists, ministers, physicians, child advocates, and representatives of minority faiths. The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law begins an overdue conversation on questions dividing the nation.


Check out a discussion on The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law at Georgetown
University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs.