Friday, June 14, 2019

Book Review: Deep Conviction by Steven T. Collis

Deep Conviction, by Steven T. Collis
2019, 384p, Nonfiction
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher, which did not affect my review in any way

Deep Conviction features four ordinary Americans who put their reputations and livelihoods at risk as they fought to protect their first amendment right to live their personal beliefs. Though these individuals couldn’t be more different, they share a similar conviction and determination, and the principles of religious freedom apply equally to all of them.

In 1813, a Catholic priest in New York City faced prison after a grand jury subpoenaed him for refusing to divulge the identity of a jewelry thief who admitted to the crime during the sacrament of confession.

In 1959, an atheist in Maryland was forced to stand up for his beliefs when the state required him to sign an oath that said he believed in God before he could work as a notary public. The United States Supreme Court would decide his fate.

In 1989, a Klamath Indian man walked into the highest court of our nation to fight for the right to practice the central sacrament of the Native American Church after the state of Oregon had declared it illegal.

And, finally, in 2017, a Christian baker and a gay couple took their cases to the United States Supreme Court after the baker declined to create a custom wedding cake to celebrate the couple’s same-sex marriage, fearing it would violate his duty to God.

Chosen for their universality and for the broad principles they represent, these true stories reflect the diversity of beliefs in the United States, the conflicts between religious freedom and other interests, the perils individuals face when their right to live their beliefs is threatened, and the genius of America’s promise of religious liberty for all.

This book shares four stories of ordinary US citizens who fought for their personal beliefs. I enjoy books about the law and thought this book sounded interesting. I'm glad to say that it is! I love the way it's written! It reads more like a story rather than case law, even though the author does share lots of quotes from each proceeding. I also liked the back stories that were given for different people involved in each case which I thought was helpful in more fully understanding each story. 

I was impressed with each of them what they were willing to endure because of their personal convictions. It made me think about what I would do. I thought the author did a good job bringing home the point that religious freedom is important for everyone, and that the shift in the balance of power can often make the oppressed become the oppressors. It's also a reminder that attorneys and judges are human, and there were decisions made and opportunities missed that could have resulted in different outcomes in other cases. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of religious freedom in our country.

Steven T. Collis is the author of the nonfiction book Deep Conviction and the novel At Any Cost. He is an equity partner at Holland & Hart LLP and chairs the firm’s nationwide religious institutions and First Amendment practice group. An adjunct professor of religious liberty law at the University of Denver College of Law, he is a sought-after speaker to audiences across the United States, including foreign diplomats from countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and South America on behalf of the United States State Department. He has been interviewed by and quoted in various news outlets, including The Deseret News, Bloomberg, The Washington Times, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Denver Business Journal, Law Week Colorado, CBN News, and others.

​Before embarking on his legal and writing career, Steven graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as an editor on the Michigan Law Review. Steven also holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he served as the associate editor of the literary journal Blackbird. He completed his undergraduate studies, with university honors, at Brigham Young University.

Originally from New Mexico, Steven lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.


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