Holy Hullabaloos

A Road Trip to the Battlegrounds of the Church/State Wars

After ten years spent riddling over the intricacies of church/state law from the ivory tower, law professor Jay Wexler decided it was high time to hit the road to learn what really happened in some of the most controversial Supreme Court cases involving this hot-button issue. In Holy Hullabaloos, he takes us along for the ride, crossing the country to meet the people and visit the places responsible for landmark decisions in recent judicial history, from a high school football field where fans once recited prayers before kickoff to a Santeria church notorious for animal sacrifice, from a publicly funded Muslim school to a creationist museum. Wexler’s no-holds-barred approach to investigating famous church/state brouhahas is as funny as it is informative.

I’ve read a lot of entertaining travelogues and informative studies of Supreme Court cases, but never at the same time. Think Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation meets Peter Irons’ The Courage of Their Convictions. Thank God for Holy Hullabaloos.

Pamela Karlan

founding director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford University

Religion and politics are the two things we are not supposed to talk about. Jay Wexler does—with deadpan humor. We need to tone down the anger over these issues, and he shows the way.

Alan Wolfe

author of Does American Democracy Still Work?

The sharpest, the most insightful, the most side-splittingly funny book on law since—Supreme Courtship!

Christopher Buckley

author of Supreme Courtship and Thank You For Smoking

A fascinating and frequently funny journey through many of the sites of the greatest church and state squabbles in modern American history.

Barry Lynn

author of Piety & Politics

In a book that is by turns irreverent, obnoxious, arrogant, silly, and probing, Wexler examines a number of issues related to the practice of religion and its fraught relationship with the government with which these practices must co-exist. . . . Wexler’s book joins Timothy Beal’s Roadside Religion in revealing the power of American religion in contemporary culture.


Wexler’s lucid explications of difficult constitutional concepts and the vagaries of Supreme Court rulings are superb, providing readers a deeper understanding of the First Amendment and Supreme Court jurisprudence. But that’s only half the story. Wexler is laugh-out-loud funny as he narrates his odyssey through battleground sites . . . a rare treat, a combination of thoughtful analysis and quirky humor that illuminates an issue that rarely elicits a laugh—and that is central to the American body politic.

Publisher's Weekly

Starred Review

An entertaining ramble that is also thoughtful, even enlightening.


The tour-guide device might have bombed in a lesser writer’s hands. It works for Wexler because of his gift for filtering arcane legal sludge into clear explanations, his keen eye for detail, and his self-mocking, zanily irreverent sensibility.

Boston Globe