This article examines the 1942 federal trial and convictions of Edna and Donald Ballard as an example of the way legal processes can create new types of religious criminals. Scholarship has tended to focus on the landmark US Supreme Court decision United States v. Ballard (1944), which contributed to an expansion of religious freedom protections to individuals and groups previously not considered for First Amendment protection. Through a close reading of the prosecution’s case against the leaders of the I AM Movement, we see the courtroom as an active space of subject formation at a critical time in the history of religious freedom in the United States. I argue that trials, such as this one, demonstrate how the expansion of First Amendment rights also results in the expansion of religious illegality.

You do not currently have access to this content.