Blackford's book was very enlightening and even challenged some of the views I hold. In it, Blackford shows that given we live in a liberal democracy, what that exactly means for religious freedom and expression. His model for this is based on that of John Locke, where the State's goal is to protect and serve the this-worldly interests of its population. What does this mean? It means that the State should be religion-blind and neutral on otherworldly, religious matters. As Blackford sums up in the last chapter, "On this approach, the state should not favor particular doctrines relating to the salvation of souls, or anything analogous. . ." (pg 198)
With this approach in mind, Blackford weaves his way through contemporary church-state issues. Though his discussions were informative and thought-provoking, there were certain areas where I wish he would have gone a little further in his conclusions. All things considered though, there was very little I actually disagreed with. His discussions on accommodating religion, the welfare of children, and what power the State has over religious communities were the highlight of the book, for me at least.
The one highlighting principle that I will use in further discussions of this topic is that religious institutions and individuals cannot claim persecution so long as a law is enacted for good secular reasons (the only ones that matter given the Lockean model) and is generally applicable to society as a whole. This has big consequences, all of which Blackford considers.
"Freedom of Religion and the Secular State" is extremely well-written and argued. If you have any interest in the role of religions in modern, secular societies, I highly recommend Blackford's contribution.