The Amish, one of America's last unassimilated ethnic groups, had resisted sending their children to the ""godless"" public schools for years before the Burger Supreme Court decided in 1972 that Amish children need not attend beyond the eighth grade. Keim's collection of essays replays a number of the showdowns in Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, but only hints at the far-reaching implications of that landmark decision. The Plain People resurrected an issue that seemed settled long ago in America -- that of religious freedom. Some of the reasons offered for removing the children from the public system: they are exposed to profanity, sex talk, evolutionism, atheism, materialism, the glorification of war, ""the creeping evil of socialism,"" and they are required to wear an indecent costume for gym class. The new ruling sustained their claim that compulsory education was a violation of the First Amendment -- opening the door for further rethinking of the Bill of Rights. With the exceptions of sociologist Hostetler and lawyers Ball and Arons, the crusading sympathy of the contributors tends to weaken their analysis.