But again, journalists who cover religion also need to weigh that broad respect for belief against a larger truth. If a particular tenet of a particular faith has the potential to influence the public discourse outside the walls of the church, synagogue, or mosque, reporters are responsible for holding it up to the same scrutiny as any other idea tossed into the public square for debate. Which brings us back to The Devil in Dover. Toward the end of the book, Lebo sits down with Judge Jones and expresses her anxieties about the next round of “attacks on this country’s civil liberties.” Jones smiles reassuringly at the author and affirms his faith in the great American experiment. “Democracy is messy,” he tells her. “It’s supposed to be that way.” 


Tim Townsend is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.