Judging Jehovah's Witnesses: Religious Persecution and the Dawn of the Rights Revolution

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9780700611829: Judging Jehovah's Witnesses: Religious Persecution and the Dawn of the Rights Revolution

While millions of Americans were defending liberty against the Nazis, liberty was under vicious attack at home. One of the worst outbreaks of religious persecution in U.S. history occurred during World War II when Jehovah's Witnesses were intimidated, beaten, and even imprisoned for refusing to salute the flag or serve in the armed forces.

Determined to claim their First Amendment rights, Jehovah's Witnesses waged a tenacious legal campaign that led to twenty-three Supreme Court rulings between 1938 and 1946. Now Shawn Peters has written the first complete account of the personalities, events, and institutions behind those cases, showing that they were more than vindication for unpopular beliefs-they were also a turning point in the nation's constitutional commitment to individual rights.

Peters begins with the story of William Gobitas, a Jehovah's Witness whose children refused to salute the flag at school. He follows this famous case to the Supreme Court, where he captures the intellectual sparring between Justices Frankfurter and Stone over individual liberties; then he describes the aftermath of the Court's ruling against Gobitas, when angry mobs savagely assaulted Jehovah's Witnesses in hundreds of communities across America.

Judging Jehovah's Witnesses tells how persecution—much of it directed by members of patriotic organizations like the American Legion—touched the lives of Witnesses of all ages; why the Justice Department and state officials ignored the Witnesses' pleas for relief; and how the ACLU and liberal clergymen finally stepped forward to help them. Drawing on interviews with Witnesses and extensive research in ACLU archives, he examines the strategies that beleaguered Witnesses used to combat discrimination and goes beyond the familiar Supreme Court rulings by analyzing more obscure lower court decisions as well.

By vigorously pursuing their cause, the Witnesses helped to inaugurate an era in which individual and minority rights emerged as matters of concern for the Supreme Court and foreshadowed events in the civil rights movement. Like the classics Gideon's Trumpet and Simple Justice, Judging Jehovah's Witnesses vividly narrates a moving human drama while reminding us of the true meaning of our Constitution and the rights it protects.

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From the Back Cover:

"A vivid depiction of the hysterical and brutal suppression of the Witnesses during the 1930s and 1940s and how their legal resistance transformed the civil liberties of all Americans. A story of cowardice and courage, well told."--Norman Dorsen, Stokes Professor, NYU, and president, ACLU 1976–1991

"A marvelous and long-needed book."--Nat Hentoff, author of Living the Bill of Rights

"An excellent and refreshing reminder that not a single legal doctrine matters at all except as it comes to bear on the lives of flesh-and-blood people."-- Kenneth Karst, author of Belonging to America

"A fine work. Thoroughly researched, smoothly written, and a genuine pleasure to read."--Tinsley Yarbrough, author of Judicial Enigma: The First Justice Harlan

About the Author:

Shawn Francis Peters is a freelance writer living in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Book Description University Press of Kansas, United States, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. While millions of Americans were defending liberty against the Nazis, liberty was under vicious attack at home. One of the worst outbreaks of religious persecution in U.S. history occurred during World War II when Jehovah s Witnesses were intimidated, beaten, and even imprisoned for refusing to salute the flag or serve in the armed forces. Determined to claim their First Amendment rights, Jehovah s Witnesses waged a tenacious legal campaign that led to twenty-three Supreme Court rulings between 1938 and 1946. Now Shawn Peters has written the first complete account of the personalities, events, and institutions behind those cases, showing that they were more than vindication for unpopular beliefs-they were also a turning point in the nation s constitutional commitment to individual rights. Peters begins with the story of William Gobitas, a Jehovah s Witness whose children refused to salute the flag at school. He follows this famous case to the Supreme Court, where he captures the intellectual sparring between Justices Frankfurter and Stone over individual liberties; then he describes the aftermath of the Court s ruling against Gobitas, when angry mobs savagely assaulted Jehovah s Witnesses in hundreds of communities across America. Judging Jehovah s Witnesses tells how persecution--much of it directed by members of patriotic organizations like the American Legion--touched the lives of Witnesses of all ages; why the Justice Department and state officials ignored the Witnesses pleas for relief; and how the ACLU and liberal clergymen finally stepped forward to help them. Drawing on interviews with Witnesses and extensive research in ACLU archives, he examines the strategies that beleaguered Witnesses used to combat discrimination and goes beyond the familiar Supreme Court rulings by analyzing more obscure lower court decisions as well. By vigorously pursuing their cause, the Witnesses helped to inaugurate an era in which individual and minority rights emerged as matters of concern for the Supreme Court and foreshadowed events in the civil rights movement. Like the classics Gideon s Trumpet and Simple Justice, Judging Jehovah s Witnesses vividly narrates a moving human drama while reminding us of the true meaning of our Constitution and the rights it protects. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9780700611829

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Book Description University Press of Kansas, United States, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. While millions of Americans were defending liberty against the Nazis, liberty was under vicious attack at home. One of the worst outbreaks of religious persecution in U.S. history occurred during World War II when Jehovah s Witnesses were intimidated, beaten, and even imprisoned for refusing to salute the flag or serve in the armed forces. Determined to claim their First Amendment rights, Jehovah s Witnesses waged a tenacious legal campaign that led to twenty-three Supreme Court rulings between 1938 and 1946. Now Shawn Peters has written the first complete account of the personalities, events, and institutions behind those cases, showing that they were more than vindication for unpopular beliefs-they were also a turning point in the nation s constitutional commitment to individual rights. Peters begins with the story of William Gobitas, a Jehovah s Witness whose children refused to salute the flag at school. He follows this famous case to the Supreme Court, where he captures the intellectual sparring between Justices Frankfurter and Stone over individual liberties; then he describes the aftermath of the Court s ruling against Gobitas, when angry mobs savagely assaulted Jehovah s Witnesses in hundreds of communities across America. Judging Jehovah s Witnesses tells how persecution--much of it directed by members of patriotic organizations like the American Legion--touched the lives of Witnesses of all ages; why the Justice Department and state officials ignored the Witnesses pleas for relief; and how the ACLU and liberal clergymen finally stepped forward to help them. Drawing on interviews with Witnesses and extensive research in ACLU archives, he examines the strategies that beleaguered Witnesses used to combat discrimination and goes beyond the familiar Supreme Court rulings by analyzing more obscure lower court decisions as well. By vigorously pursuing their cause, the Witnesses helped to inaugurate an era in which individual and minority rights emerged as matters of concern for the Supreme Court and foreshadowed events in the civil rights movement. Like the classics Gideon s Trumpet and Simple Justice, Judging Jehovah s Witnesses vividly narrates a moving human drama while reminding us of the true meaning of our Constitution and the rights it protects. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9780700611829

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