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    Steven T. Collis

ISBN: 978-1-62972-553-6

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Deep Conviction

by: Steven T. Collis

Deep Conviction features four ordinary Americans who put their reputations and livelihoods at risk as they fought to protect their first amendment right to live their personal beliefs. Though these individuals couldn’t be more different, they share a similar conviction and determination, and the principles of religious freedom apply equally to all of them.

In 1813, a Catholic priest in New York City faced prison after a grand jury subpoenaed him for refusing to divulge the identity of a jewelry thief who admitted to the crime during the sacrament of confession.

In 1959, an atheist in Maryland was forced to choose between his job and his beliefs when the state required him, as part of the hiring process, to sign an oath that said he believed in God. The United States Supreme Court would decide his fate.

In 1989, a Klamath Indian man walked into the highest court of our nation to fight for the right to practice the central sacrament of the Native American Church after the state of Oregon had declared it illegal.

And, finally, in 2017, a Christian baker and a gay couple took their cases to the United States Supreme Court after the baker declined to create a custom wedding cake to celebrate the couple’s same-sex marriage, fearing it would violate his duty to God.

Chosen for their universality and for the broad principles they represent, these true stories reflect the diversity of beliefs in the United States, the conflicts between religious freedom and other interests, the perils individuals face when their right to live their beliefs is threatened, and the genius of America’s promise of religious liberty for all.

Meet the Author
Steven T. Collis is the Chair of Religious Institutions and First Amendment Practice Group at Holland & Hart LLP. He regularly represents religious institutions, school districts, and traditional employers nationwide regarding a broad range of religious liberty issues. He is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where he teaches courses on religious liberty law. Steven received his MFA in creating writing from Virginia Commonwealth University, and received his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. He and his wife have four children and reside in Colorado.
Books of Steven T. Collis
About This Book
  • The legal fight for freedom of religion is explored in these four deeply personal true stories of ordinary individuals-a Catholic, an atheist, a Peyotist, and a Christian-who tested or challenged the Supreme Court to defend their beliefs. Each of the stories features a citizen who would not back down when faced with discrimination, intolerance, and persecution and who sought justice via the First Amendment of the Constitution.
  • One of the few titles on religious liberty to have a balanced approach to all sides of the topic using several cases. It’s told in a literary nonfiction storytelling approach to make the topic accessible and engaging for readers.
  • Each of the four stories explores several aspects of the meaning of religious liberty such as:
    • An atheist who in 1959 pushed his attempt to become a Maryland notary public all the way to the Supreme Court because the state required him to sign an oath that said he believed in God.
    • In 2017 in Denver, a Christian baker’s beliefs and actions came under scrutiny in a case brought to the Supreme Court after he refused service to a gay couple who wanted to purchase a custom wedding cake.
    • In 1989 a Klamath Native American man in Oregon fought off government attempts to suppress the exercise of his religious beliefs by criminalizing the use of peyote.
    • 1813, in New York City, a Catholic priest faced prison after a grand jury subpoenaed him for refusing to divulge the identity of a criminal who admitted his guilt during the sacrament of confession.
  • Illustrates that religious freedom, when properly applied, keeps religious groups from using the powerful hand of government to force its beliefs onto any other group, thus avoiding the violence and conflict that might arise if religious groups were to vie for control of the government. It protects atheists from religious oppression from the government, just as it prevents the government from adopting atheism as the state religion. True religious freedom exists when we are able to persuade one another through the power of our ideas, beliefs, and examples, not through the might of the state.
  • Written by an attorney who specializes in religious freedom cases, this book is meticulously researched and extensively uses primary source documents to give a full picture of the individuals depicted in the cases, including letters, journal entries, video and court transcripts, multiple interviews with living witnesses, on-site visits, and photographs.
  • Includes the 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop case brought before the Supreme Court on religious liberty grounds, centering on the right of a religious Christian baker to refuse service to a gay couple who wanted to purchase a custom wedding cake. Features an interview with the principles in the case: the cake artist, Jack Phillips, and his attorneys, the attorneys for the state of Colorado, and the attorneys for the gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig.

ISBN: 978-1-62972-553-6
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Publish Date: 2019
Page Count: 352