Author: Dana D. Eilers
Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Publisher: New Page Books
Publication date: July 2003
Price & More Info: Click Here
Pagans and the Law: Understanding Your Rights is the first book written by a lawyer but aimed at normal mortals I've seen that attempts to explain the rights Pagans (and non-Pagans for that matter) have in the United States with respect to religious freedom and religious discrimination. The author, Dana E. Eilers, has spend 17 years in private civil practice.
Realistically, but unfortunately, the first chapter is on how to find a lawyer willing and able to take your case if you need one. This chapter points out what I see as the biggest hole in the American system of civil rights, you really only have the rights you have the large sums of cash you need to pay a lawyer to enforce. If you can't come up with the cash, you really don't have any way to enforce your rights. While I think this is a huge flaw in the US legal system, it's not Ms. Eilers' fault. Assuming you have the money, this chapter guides you through the process of finding and working with an attorney should you be unfortunate enough to need one. From watching my lawyer clients work (I'm a computer consultant) over the years, I think the advice in this chapter is excellent.
The second chapter briefly explains how the various state and federal court systems work in the US. Given that each state has its own ways of doing things, this chapter is fairly general, but shows how complex even a simple case can become once it gets in the system.
With the exception of a short final chapter on God and government, the rest of the book deals with specific types of issues: First Amendment issues, child custody issues, employment discrimination, landlord/tenant issues, and land use issues. Each is discussed in considerable detail with numerous examples from case law. These examples come with appropriate legal case citations which make this book very useful if you ever need to hire a lawyer for a religious rights case as a lot of legal work seems to consist of finding similar cases from the past to use in legal arguments. Despite all the citations, Pagans and the Law tries hard to be both readable and understandable by those without a law degree -- and generally succeeds.
There are 39 pages of chapter notes and bibliography at the end of the book. While these are mainly case citations, there are some useful to laymen books, articles and web sites included. The book is indexed.
Pagans and the Law: Understanding Your Rights belongs on the shelf of every Pagan and should be required reading for everyone who claims to be a Pagan leader (and probably for every minority religious leader who isn't scared off by the word "Pagan" in the title). Eilers has done a remarkable job of making understandable legal information on religious rights available to members of minority religions in the United States. Even if legal issues bore you, this is a book you should consider buying as a form of insurance. You pray that you never need to use any of the information in it, but know that having it at hand will make life so much easier if you ever do need it. If you buy it, resist the urge to simply put it on your "just in case" shelf unread. Take the time to read through it and find out just what rights you have -- and don't have, as not all the "rights" you hear about in Pagan discussion areas actually exist.
Reviewed by Randall