Sarah Barringer Gordon

Sarah Barringer Gordon

The Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, Sarah Barringer Gordon teaches and writes on American religious and constitutional history. She is the author of The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America (2002) and The Spirit of the Law: Religious Voices and the Constitution in Modern America (2010). She is currently at work on a book entitled "Freedom's Holy Light: Disestablishment in America, 1776-1876." She is particularly interested in the legal history of religion and religious peoples in America, with a special focus on the relationship of politics and law to belief and practice in American life. In the most religiously diverse country on earth, freedom of religion has been central, and controversial, across American history.

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  • The First Wall of Separation between Church and State
  • The African Supplement: Religion, Race, and Corporate Law in Early National America
  • Blasphemy: The Prosecution of Religious and Sexual Dissent in the Nineteenth Century
  • Holy War: The Campaign against Secularism in Public Education, 1979–1990
  • Polygamy at the Supreme Court: Reynolds v. United States in Legal History
  • Prayer and the Constitution: The Cold War, Football, and the Tangled Law of Religion


Prayer in American Public Life: Fifty Years of Conflict over Religion in Government

This lecture was presented at the Richard D. McKinzie Symposium, "One Nation under God: The Politics of America's Religious Diversity," sponsored by the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Recorded by the Kansas City Public Library in February 2014.

Visit the OAH YouTube channel for more audio and video recordings.