Deep Purple: Religious Shades of Family Law
George Washington University - Law School
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law
West Virginia Law Review, Forthcoming
GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 353
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 353
"Deep Purple" examines the impact of religion on the politics and jurisprudence of abstinence education. Abstinence education is one of the many locations (issues) in the contemporary culture wars between red and blue state values. Families who live in red and blue states are experiencing divergent life patterns, and religion affects the development of these patterns. Frequency of church attendance has been tied to likelihood of marriage, and, as this paper shows, has been profoundly influential in approaches to teen sexuality. Religion decreases the opportunity for dialogue and compromise on these issues because people use underlying values - such as religion - as a way of helping them decide about social issues such as gay marriage and teen pregnancy. For those who interpret information through a pre-existing worldview, more information will not affect the approach to deeply contested issues, particularly because part of the entrenched nature of these worldviews and religious attitudes derives from neurobiological structures
The central part of the paper examines conflicting approaches to the deeply divisive issue of abstinence education, demonstrating how religion contributes to the conflict in perspectives. Finally, the paper explores potential means for resolving these cultural tensions or at least for managing them within a federal system that maintains fidelity to the rule of law. Ultimately, the paper argues that changing religiously influenced laws, such as those supporting abstinence education, is as much a political and social process as a legal one.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 54
Keywords: Family law, law and religion, religion, abstinence education, children and the law, separation of church and state, polarization and partisanship, cultural cognition, law and politics
JEL Classification: I20, I21, I28, J12, J13, K10, Z10Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 22, 2007
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