Feldman, Stephen M. 1955-
Feldman, Stephen M. 1955-
Born 1955. Education: Hamilton College, B.A., 1977; University of Oregon, J.D., 1982; Stanford University, J.S.M., 1986.
Office—Department 3035, University of Wyoming College of Law, 1000 E. University Ave., Laramie, WY 82071. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, attorney, and educator. Stanford University School of Law, Stanford, CA, teaching fellow, 1984-86; University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, professor of law and associate member of political science, 1986-2002; University of Wyoming College of Law, Laramie, Jerry W. Housel/Carl F. Arnold Distinguished Professor of Law and adjunct professor of political science, 2002—. Served as a judicial clerk for the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Professorin-residence, London, England, 1999.
Order of the Coif.
National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellow, 1998.
American Legal Thought from Premodernism to Postmodernism: An Intellectual Voyage, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor) Law and Religion: A Critical Anthology, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Contributor to books, including Law and Religion: A Critical Anthology, edited by Stephen M. Feldman, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2000; Oxford Companion to American Law, edited by Kermit L. Hall, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002; and Encyclopedia of Religious Freedom, Berkshire/Routledge Publishing, 2003. Contributor to periodicals and journals, including University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Contemporary Political Theory, Law and Social Inquiry, Journal of Legal Education, Vanderbilt Law Review, Minnesota Law Review, and Virginia Law Review. Former articles editor, Oregon Law Review.
Author, attorney, and educator Stephen M. Feldman is a professor of law at the University of Wyoming. A regular contributor of articles to legal journals and other periodicals, Feldman frequently speaks and writes about the often embattled area where religion and law intersect. In Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas: A Critical History of the Separation of Church and State, he considers these issues at greater depth, illuminating long-held beliefs about the separation of church and state. Further, Feldman explains that many beliefs about this division between government and religion are simply incorrect.
Feldman "builds a persuasive case against the dominant story" that, in all areas of American life, there is a Constitutionally guaranteed separation of church and state that endorses no particular religion but instead guarantees religious freedom for all, noted Steve Schroeder in Booklist. In Feldman's view, the actual practice of separation of church and state serves to support and endorse Christian religion at the expense of others: "Rather than promoting democracy and equal protection for all, separation of church and state ‘manifests and reinforces’ Christian dominance in American society," commented Paul R. Weber in the Journal of Church and State.
To illustrate his point, Feldman relates numerous instances when he, growing up Jewish, encountered the unpleasant experiences of being a Jew in a Christian culture, exposed to Christmas celebrations and other Christian icons and events. The religious culture of the United States, Feldman states, is concerned more with protecting Protestantism than ensuring a truly free religious landscape. He sees this excessive display of Christian religion as amounting to anti-Semitism, even if the effect is unintentional.
For Weber, this extreme view does not withstand close scrutiny. "Separation is a legal device meant to limit government support of or intrusion into religion," he noted. "It puts religions on an equal legal footing. It does not protect religious minorities or majorities from playground teasing, marketing hoopla at Christmas, proselytizing, or from social customs of private citizens. Mr. Feldman would apparently prefer a separation of religion and culture," Weber remarked. However, reviewer Marla Brettschneider stated: "This work provides an important deconstruction of what the author calls the dominant view of church-state separation: self-congratulatory on the part of the nation's religious majority and culturally imperialist toward what the author refers to as religious outgroups, particularly Jews." Schroeder commented favorably on Feldman's "carefully reasoned and meticulously documented case."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Political Science Review, December, 1997, Marla Brettschneider, review of Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas: A Critical History of the Separation of Church and State, p. 942.
Booklist, December 1, 1996, Steve Schroeder, review of Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas, p. 624.
First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, February, 2001, review of Law and Religion: A Critical Anthology, p. 55.
Journal of Church and State, winter, 1998, Paul R. Weber, review of Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas, p. 212.
University of Wyoming College of Law Web site,http://uwadmnweb.uwyo.edu/law/ (February 24, 2007), curriculum vitae of Stephen M. Feldman.