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100 of 104 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Secularly Sound
Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All - and What We Can Do About It by Sean Faircloth

"Attack of the Theocrats" is the brief yet effective book on how the religious right has used their political clout to cause harm to the rest of us. Sean Faircloth's interesting secular manifesto is a product of an interesting background that includes:...
Published on November 25, 2011 by Book Shark

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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Founders' lament
Sean Faircloth, perhaps the most lucid and energetic modern-day cheerleader for church-state separation, has delivered a fine call to arms for those who hope to reclaim American democracy from the band of religionists who have hijacked our government since the Reagan years. Faircloth's well-chosen quotes from the greatest of our founders, Jefferson and Madison, make it...
Published on June 29, 2012 by Cecil Bothwell


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100 of 104 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Secularly Sound, November 25, 2011
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This review is from: Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It (Hardcover)
Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All - and What We Can Do About It by Sean Faircloth

"Attack of the Theocrats" is the brief yet effective book on how the religious right has used their political clout to cause harm to the rest of us. Sean Faircloth's interesting secular manifesto is a product of an interesting background that includes: his formal education as a lawyer, his years as a politician serving five terms in the Maine Legislature, his leadership and vision led to the creation of a children's museum in Maine, executive director of the Secular Coalition of America, and most recently director of strategy and policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. This 168-page book is composed of ten chapters: 1. Introduction: The Crumbled Wall between Church and State, 2. Our Secular Heritage: One Nation under the Constitution, 3. Religious Bias in Law Harms Us All, 4. Genital Morality vs. Real Morality, 5. Two American Traditions: Religious Huckster and Secular Innovators, 6. The Theocrats (aka the Fundamentalist Fifty), 7. The Secularists, 8. Secularism - Born Again, 9. Our Secular Decade: A Strategic Plan, and 10. A Vision of a Secular America.

Positives:
1. Well written, engaging prose.
2. Great defense of secular principles.
3. Insightful, eye-opening accounts on how religion harms us. Accounts involving dangers to our children are most troubling.
4. Thought-provoking quotes, "Fundamentalists tell us to fear the specter of special rights for gay citizens, though of course gay Americans aren't after special rights - merely equal rights. The irony is that special rights actually do exist in this country - for religious groups."
5. The special rights of religious groups in detail.
6. American exceptionalism in proper perspective.
7. A brief look at our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson a personal favorite.
8. A look at how fundamentalists obtained political clout.
9. How tax money to religious organizations violate our Constitution's central principles.
10. Many great examples of how religious bias hurts us all. Great stuff!
11. Interesting court ruling decisions.
12. Religiously motivated policies that focus on sex. Sexual morality discussed.
13. Amusing stories. My favorite, the story of radio station KLUE.
14. Politicians and religion, such a dangerous mix.
15. The chapter on the Fundamentalist Fifty is priceless and disturbing.
16. Congressman Stark.
17. In defense of America as it was designed, a secular, constitutional Republic.
18. Secular strategy and vision in detail including the Ten Guiding Principles of a Secular America.
19. An inspirational plea for action.
20. A brief discussion on how secular societies around the world flourish.
21. A brief discussion about the ten groups that today form the Secular Coalition.
22. A bibliography.

Negatives:
1. A couple of mistakes of little consequence. As an example, Governor Sanford from SC was canoodling with a woman from Argentina not Brazil.
2. No notes or links.
3. The book may be a little preachy in the latter chapters.
4. The book's focus is on recent history and the future of secularism in America. For more in depth look at the history of secularism, I highly recommend Susan Jacoby's masterpiece, "Freethinkers".
5. I really didn't like the cover. A serious and inspirational topic deserved better.

In summary, I enjoyed this book. Sean Faircloth makes an inspirational plea to defend our secular Constitution. The book is thought-provoking, enlightening, and makes sound arguments based on reason. I recommend this book.

Further recommendations: "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism" by Susan Jacoby, "Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment" by Phil Zuckerman, "A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present" by Howard Zinn, "Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson" by Jennifer Hecht, "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America" by Chris Hedges, "Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party..." by Max Blumenthal, and "The Conservative Assault on the Constitution" by Erwin Chemerinsky.
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83 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for champions of separation of church and state., October 24, 2011
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This review is from: Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It (Hardcover)
Sean Faircloth provides an extremely perceptive and timely analysis of the assault of religious fundamentalists on one of the most important precepts of the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment bar against the government's establishment of religion. Both James Madison, the principal author of the amendment, and Thomas Jefferson, an early proponent of such a concept, interpreted this language to mean complete separation of church and state. Of all the precepts of our Constitution, none was more original nor more profound in the shaping of our government and our country.

However, in the past several decades, Christian fundamentalists - who make up less than a quarter of the American populace - have managed to subvert the intent of this great concept. Faircloth demonstrates how this subversion is not simply about nativity scenes or Ten Commandment plaques in public spaces. It is about life and death for pregnant women, proper health care for innocent children, education grounded in reality and science, and the path of the U.S. that will result in progress or stagnation.

After clearly describing the on-going threat of religious fundamentalism, Faircloth then provides a plan for non-theists to regain the high road of the Founding Fathers' separation of church and state. As opposed to the exclusivity of fundamentalism, it is a plan that is inclusive. Persons of religious faith, who also recognize the dangers of rigid fundamentalism, and who recognize the virtues of keeping government and religion completely separate, are welcome as much as secularists, humanists, agnostics, atheists, and free-thinkers.

Faircloth recognizes that there is already a groundswell in the younger demographic toward secularism - a recent poll reveals that 25% of those under age 30 do not affiliate with any religious group (compared with 7% of those over 65). Moreover, from just 1990 to today, the number of persons who don't affiliate with any religious group has increased from 7% to 17%. Faircloth makes a very cogent argument that it is a propitious time for secularists and church/state separatists to come out of the closet and to carry forward the sublime concept advocated by Madison and Jefferson. To that end, the plan in his book is a must read.
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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Motivational Kick in the Pants, November 4, 2011
This review is from: Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It (Hardcover)
If you've never seen the harm in having religious bias driving our laws- read this book.

If you HAVE seen the harm in having religious bias driving our laws, but thought there was nothing you could do about it- read this book.

Sean Faircloth's Attack of the Theocrats is the perfect introduction to show people the unexpected flood unleashed once cracks start to form in the dam between church and state. While not condemning religion nor religious people themselves, Faircloth does a convincing job of explaining why allowing religious institutions special treatment and bringing faith-based laws into our government cause far greater harm than good. From exempting religious daycare centers from basic child-safety regulations, to allowing tax dollars to fund programs that studies repeatedly show are ineffective (but that religious ideology supports), he highlights many of the dangers and injustices that allowing even a seemingly small amount of bias unleashes.

But he does not end the book on a sour note. The second half is a call to stand up, speak out, and not only defend against the theocratic onslaught, but to overtake it and restore our government back to its secular roots. He introduces a realistic plan that is sure to drive and empower anyone with the passion to take on its challenge.

If you've been looking for something that's not only informative, but motivational as well, pick up this book. It might just be the most important thing an American can read today.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Founders' lament, June 29, 2012
This review is from: Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It (Hardcover)
Sean Faircloth, perhaps the most lucid and energetic modern-day cheerleader for church-state separation, has delivered a fine call to arms for those who hope to reclaim American democracy from the band of religionists who have hijacked our government since the Reagan years. Faircloth's well-chosen quotes from the greatest of our founders, Jefferson and Madison, make it unquestionably clear that we were not founded as a Christian nation and that their "wall of separation" was explicit, intentional and wise. The author's examples of the ways in which theocratic laws harm children, women, all of us, are spot-on.

Faircloth makes a compelling case that rescuing our legislatures, executives and judicial system from the clutches of those who would impose "Bronze Age morality" on society must be among our loftiest goals. He easily gives the lie to the Tea Party and fundamentalist claims that imposition of their brand of religion on our laws reflects any loyalty to the men who framed our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and the other basic documents of the American experiment.

That said, the book has its flaws. I read it because I agree with the author on most matters of governance, and strongly support the work he does and advocates, but it isn't a particularly well-written book. At times he indulges a level of snarkiness that weakens his argument, and he refers to a few compelling examples of child-abuse too often (I get it already). This is a terrific source book for those who are joining the push to re-secularize American government, but it isn't as inspirational as I'd have hoped, given Faircloth's compelling oratory.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reviewing Attack of the Theocrats!, February 19, 2012
This review is from: Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It (Hardcover)
Read my full review with author interview at [...]

This past October, while attending the TX Freethought Convention, I had the opportunity to hear Sean Faircloth speak. Directly following his presentation, I ventured to the bookstore and purchased his first book, Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All -- and What We Can Do About It (which is officially released today).

Earlier in the day I had perused the bookstore and had bypassed the gaudy bookcover a few times. The maxim rings true, as the contents of this book are superb. Attack of the Theocrats! addresses current issues, and I recommend it for atheists & moderately religious people.

The book opens with a forward from Richard Dawkins that gives a concise preview of what is to come. Don't skip the preface; it contains a valuable image of Faircloth that helps the reader understand his passion for justice. Using his wealth of knowledge through a background of politics and law, Faircloth starts off strong with an extensive critical review of religious bias in American politics and the social arena. As he exposes a multitude of issues, they begin to fester inside of you. I would like to have seen more of the book dedicated to "What You Can Do," than the brief section on p. 132, but this book is at least educating and creating a dialogue -- especially around child related issues.

The focus later shifts to an intimate look at the Christian fundamentalists and Dominionists that are bent on reshaping the United States into a theocracy. Anyone strongly opposed to gay equality and those who consider zygotes sacred will have a challenging time, at first, agreeing with Faircloth due to his unapologetic stance on the issues. Through ample examples, he conclusively explains how religious influence on a variety of issues harms everyone, including religious conservatives, and rigorously attempts to jostle us all into action.

Faircloth aims at the outset to reach across the divide and enlighten both secular and religious readers, but the overall message will only fully pass the filters of a person with secular ideals. If you're skeptical of the harm religious bias plays in each of our lives, read this book. It is unfortunate that an entire chapter of this small book was devoted to promoting the Secular Coalition for America, as though required by the publisher, but the message does act like a buttress for the chapter that follows.

Overall, Faircloth was able to promote a sense of urgency in a fast-paced read, while being inspirational and encouraging. Attack of the Theocrats! closes with a stimulating vision for a restored secular America, that will inspire you to action -- if you're already a secular American. I could give you all of the details, but you really need to turn through this one yourself.

Read my full review with author interview at [...]

@emilyhasbooks
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Semper Fidelis, December 17, 2011
By 
Thomas Lawson (Beeyootiful British Columbia, Canada) - See all my reviews
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I will always have hope in humanity, regardless of the examples that Mr. Faircloth uses in this book. I will always know that the good people of this world outnumber the few that would leave a little girl alone to die in a van or beat a child with a piece of plumbing equipment. But I also know that small numbers of people can do powerful things. Less than 45% of Americans attend church on a weekly basis, yet Washington seems to be under the thumb of these people. Why? Fear, for one. Fear works in Washington and it works in the pews. Second is organization. Secular Americans do not get together once a week and touch base. I don't know how it can be done, but Secular Americans must check in often enough with what is going on so that we can keep that minority of zealots at bay. We must remain vigilant and cease our blind optimism that things will get better on their own. They will not.

The types of people that want to continue to subjugate women and beat their own children with plumber's tubing will not rest until they get what they want. They are beyond reason. These are the types of people that put Jesus before their own mothers and fathers, before their own children even. They hide behind Pro-Life signs while calling for the death penalty. They hide behind proclamations for family values while beating their children and trying to tear apart families of same-sex couples. They hide behind droves of ignorant and confused people that don't take the time to read a newspaper or a magazine, but instead binge on sensational, soap-selling propaganda-filled news channels.

I loved this book. This book is important. Every American that considers themself to be a patriot should read it. We must return to our Enlightenment roots. If the Enlightenment fostered the birth of our nation, then the last few decades of theocratic encroachment have been a scary week in the NICU. Staying faithful to the ideals of our secular founding is the only thing that will keep the United States from future degradation. Invest in the United States by purchasing this book.

THOMAS LAWSON, author of "Letters from an Atheist Nation: Godless Voices of America in 1903"
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important case for liberty, March 26, 2012
By 
Mitsurugi (Columbus, OH) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It (Hardcover)
For someone like myself who has been deeply involved in issues of state and church separation, this book will not offer many startling revelations (though even I was surprised at certain points), but that is precisely why this book is so important. So few people in the US are really aware of the dangers posed by the American religious right, and the legislative transgressions made on one of the greatest founding principles of this country, and all too often, the response when someone points them out is some variation of "Oh, that's just some lone nutjob that no one will take seriously," or even outright disbelief, as many of Faircloth's claims can seem downright absurd to those unfamiliar with the current state of affairs.

This book succinctly describes the many attacks on religious liberty by monied groups and influential individuals who genuinely believe that this country was intended to be a Christian nation, against all evidence to the contrary. After reading this book, denial of the dangers posed by modern theocratic politicians akin to burying one's head in the sand.

There is only one problem I have with this book - the lack of citations in the main text. If you want people to truly appreciate the immediacy of this problem, you cannot simply rely on your good name. It is best for those who do not aggressively follow and combat encroachments on state-church separation to see the news articles and legislative proposals for themselves, and see firsthand the extent of this problem. I didn't find anything erroneous in the text, but because of the incredible insanity of many policymakers, Poe's Law must always be kept in mind, and evidence for these kinds of claims should always be provided more readily.

This is truly a worthwhile read for anyone who cares about the rational ideals that this country was founded on. While we have worked to correct the mistakes we have made in the past, the first amendment is no error. It is part of one of the most significant documents in world history, and it is something that, even today, we must defend from ambitious, well-funded, and small-minded religious fundamentalists.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pragmatic and timely, October 8, 2011
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I almost didn't buy this because of the cover, but am glad I looked past that (proving the adage). [and I have to admit I purchased the ebook, so all I've seen of the cover is the Amazon posted small version]

PROs: author selects a short list of current issues that can be addressed with action, rather than rehashing all the old philosophical debates; the writing isn't as overwrought as the cover implies it might be.

CONs: The author takes an entire chapter to unabashedly promote his lobbying group and solicits membership/support, and the short list of issues may be a bit too short for a book-length treatment, as it seemed repetitive by the time I reached the end.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Attack of The Theocrats, November 25, 2011
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This review is from: Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It (Hardcover)
This is a great expose on the adverse effect christian fundamentalism is having on this country via its influence on the republican party political agenda. This book would be a good read for current Republican candidates and all of Fox news correspondents but, sadly, that's probably not going to happen. It clearly illustrates the liability of the Republican's determination to be more concerned about legislating morality based on archaic values then protect the foundations of a secular American government which protects the rights of all as opposed to a select group.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all believers in a secular America!, April 7, 2012
By 
Dan Arel (San Diego, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It (Hardcover)
This book is a call to arms. This should be required reading for all america, not just atheist or secular ones.

Our country is being transformed away from our true secular history and we are quickly becoming a theocratic nation. Sean Faircloth sees this clearly and he lays out a plan to stop it from happening!

I have recently had the pleasure of seeing Faircloth speak in person and this book is as inspiring as his speeches. Secular Americans must come together and make our voices heard before its to late. The separation of church and state is in jeopardy and we are the ones with the bricks and mortar to put it back up!

Lets not let our country down, read this book, be inspired, be fired up and lets together take back the constitution of the United States of America!
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Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It
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