281 of 307 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2006
Michelle Goldberg has researched and written an important book, one that will provoke discussion. I was impressed by the depth and breadth of her research and of the interviews with the people she writes about. She claims her biases up front.
The most important aspect of the book is a delineation of the opposing world-views she describes, something that may be news to blue-staters: there are two competing views of American and world history, two competing standards for "science," two competing notions of reality in American life today: an Enlightenment/humanist viewpoint and a viewpoint from which the Christian God, as interpreted by the Christian Right, is King of the United States. She suggests that dialogue between the two is impossible because there is so little common ground, and that those on the center and left underestimate the seriousness of the challenge to the U.S. Constitution and values.
My only gripe with this book is that the scenario she paints is so dark that many readers may be tempted to defend themselves against the thought, rather than against the threat. She is describing real institutions, real people, real organizations whose own mission statements can be checked out with a few keystrokes at the keyboard.
This is a must-read book for anyone who values free speech, freedom of religion, or is concerned for the way their tax dollars are spent.
163 of 178 people found the following review helpful
"Kingdom Coming" by Michelle Goldberg is a cautionary tale about Christian Nationalism and its threat to the Enlightenment values that are crucial to maintaining a modern democratic state as we know it today. Ms. Goldberg has done a superb job of surveying the movement, its leaders and its political ideals. Through her remarkable first-hand reporting and analysis, the author helps us understand that a liberal response articulating why rationality matters is urgently needed to counteract the forces of irrationality that threaten to undo our country.
Ms. Goldberg explains how homeschooling has allowed superstition to be instilled in a generation of young people who are being encouraged to become politically active. Exurban megachurches provide organizers with millions of voters and activists who can be rapidly mobilized around Christian causes. The author dedicates individual chapters to discussing six areas where extremist positions have gained ground, including: revisionism of U.S. history; anti-gay rights activism; intelligent design theory (Creationism); faith-based public services; abstinence; and the U.S. court system. As Ms. Goldberg clearly shows, the Christian movement's success has been substantial and in many cases has been attributable to sympathy and support at the highest levels of the U.S. government.
Significantly, Ms. Goldberg's comparative analysis shows that extremist Christian views have gained institutional support over time. For example, she compares how the Barry Goldwater campaign of 1964 shied away from the John Birch Society in order to distance itself from the admixture of militarism with religion to the Bush administration's embrace of General William G. Boykin after he had made several outlandish public statements about divine warfare. In fact, by appointing hundreds of ideologically sympathetic judges and bureaucrats to numerous positions within the federal government, Ms. Goldberg contends that the extremist Christian movement will continue to exert its influence for many years to come.
Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, Ms. Goldberg helps us consider how fascism finds fertile ground once all objective reason has been marginalized from public debate. The author attributes a peculiar form of Christian postmodernism, in its rejection of objective truth as myths that are propagated by the so-called liberal elite onto the unwilling Christian masses, to be responsible for fomenting a paranoid fanaticism that ultimately may prove to be a catalyst to inspiring violent action against all those who are different or who may object to the Christian agenda. But such concerns are not merely theoretical; Ms. Goldberg goes on to share the experiences of herself and others who have already suffered discrimination as a result of the works of Christian extremists.
Interestingly, Ms. Goldberg punctures the inflated claims of heartland moral superiority. The author points out that the "red states" where Christianity is strongest has higher divorce rates, lower education levels and are net debtors to the federal treasury when compared with the "blue states" where liberalism is strongest. The reality on the ground, then, suggests that the proclamations about Christian morals, Biblical guidance and American individualism are so much empty rhetoric; rather, such widely misheld beliefs probably provide simplistic answers to complex questions about changing economic, cultural and social conditions. While it is true that Ms. Goldberg does not propose a specific response to these underlying problems (which in any case would be beyond the scope of this book), her plea to liberals to stand up in defense of justice, reason and fairness is, in my view, totally appropriate: an enlightened, free and civil government is what is needed most to help solve the problems that plague the U.S. and the Christian community, and liberals need to make that fact better known.
I highly recommend this important book to everyone.
116 of 126 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2007
As someone who grew up in a home influenced by apocalyptic Christian fundamentalism, I admit right up front that I will not attempt an "objective" review of this book (whatever that might mean). I agreed with the premise Michelle Goldberg outlines (i.e., that there is a powerful strand of politicized Christianity in the US that holds the Constitution in contempt and that seeks absolute political control---Goldberg calls them "Christian nationalists") before she ever set fingers to keyboard. Frankly, I was amazed at the empathy and understanding with which Michelle Goldberg approached this material, and found that one of the strongest features of this book. Another of the strengths is in her willingness to let her subjects speak for themselves. Oftentimes the most damning comments come straight from the mouths of the Christian nationalists themselves, and Goldberg does a fine job of putting these quotes into an overall context that should chill anyone who still appreciates the ideals of the Enlightenment.
For example, Goldberg repeatedly exposes a Manichean worldview in which the American body politic is literally divided into black and white, good and evil, with the Christian nationalists on one side and the rest of us on the other. (I leave it for you to guess which side is "good.") "Thus every political issue--indeed, every disputed aspect of our national life--is a struggle between good and evil" (p. 4). She quotes Pastor Rod Parsley: "Everyone asks, `Why is it so close?' The light is getting lighter and the dark is getting darker. These two opponents are not just opponents. This is a values situation. This is lightness and darkness!" (p. 51). As Goldberg sagaciously notes, people have a perfect right to this Manichean worldview, "yet when the United States government works this way, it turns all nonevangelicals into "the other side." The nonreligious are no longer even part of the debate..." (152). I would also note that in this view, the "wrongly religious" (i.e., those who don't accept a particular collection of tenets about God, the Bible, etc.) are also left out of the debate.
Of course, though, this point is moot, because making the US an overtly Christian country, in which the nonreligious and "wrongly religious" are second-class citizens at best, is one aspect of the Christian nationalist agenda: "Among [evangelicals and born-again Christians] there is substantial support for amending the United States Constitution to make Christianity the country's official religion..." (9). Leaving us out of the debate makes sense to Christian Reconstructionist theologian R.J. Rushdoony, who denounced democracy as a "heresy and `the great love of the failures and cowards of life'" (38). Whereas many try to sugarcoat this agenda for wider consumption, the raw truth is available for the flock: "Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ--to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish" (p. 41, Goldberg quoting George Grant's The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action.)
This antidemocratic, authoritarian philosophy can't stand up to the scrutiny of the contemporary world, though, and so, as Goldberg explores in the bulk of her book, the Christian nationalists have set to work building an alternate reality in which myth is science, fiction is history, and public policy is faith-based. From the continued intrusion of creationists in our public schools, to the campaign to refashion the Founding Fathers as Christian nationalists, to publicly funded abstinence-only sex education classes, there is a parallel reality alongside ours. "Originally, conservative Christian activists just wanted to keep Darwin and sex education out of schools. When that didn't work, they developed an alternative, quasi-scientific infrastructure that would legitimate their religious beliefs in secular terms, and which they hoped to use to replace the doctrines they objected to" (p. 138). "To the Christian nationalists...publicly funded religious social services auger nothing less than an epistemological revolution. They allow knowledge derived from the Bible to trump knowledge derived from studying the world. No longer would American policy and American civic life be based on facts available to all of us, on the kind of rationality that looks at `objective or even secular outcomes.' It would be based on faith" (p. 127). "What's lacking, though, isn't just truth--it's the entire social mechanism by which truth is distinguished from falsehood. Blunting Christian nationalism requires turning toward the Enlightenment and rebuilding a culture of rationalism. Unfortunately, multitudes of Americans no longer find Enlightenment values compelling" (p. 181).
That last sentence sums up what is possibly the biggest challenge posed by the theocratic right. Because they no longer find the Enlightenment values of empiricism and reason "compelling," they are assaulting the very criteria for establishing truth claims. Readers of this review may think this an exaggeration, but I can assure you from my experience as an undergraduate instructor that many students can no longer distinguish between fact and opinion, a consequence of twenty-plus years of a concentrated disinformation campaign. "This is a pattern that repeats itself again and again in the culture wars. When experts discredit some bit of fundamentalist orthodoxy, it's taken as further proof of the experts' bias. When religious conservatives are proven wrong, their faith in their righteousness only grows, along with their hatred of the conspiracy they see arrayed against them" (p. 78). "With no agreement on the most basic of facts or sources of authority, discussions between today's creationists and evolutionists seem particularly futile. Dialogue is impossible without some shared sense of reality" (p. 93). Lest the reader think this is merely an academic issue with no bearing on the real world, they need to remind themselves that this alternate reality is populated by pharmacists who confuse themselves with theologians and/or doctors: "A rash of Christian pharmacists have refused to fill prescriptions for both the morning-after pill and for ordinary oral contraceptives--180 such incidents were reported in one six-month period in 2004....In Denton, Texas, three pharmacists working at an Eckerd drug store refused to fill a rape victim's prescription for the morning-after pill" (p. 156). In other words, these ideas and beliefs have real consequences for people, especially for those who don't hold these ideas and beliefs.
Others have critiqued Goldberg for her comparisons to fascists, whom they usually equate unequivocally with Nazis. While comparisons to Nazis are always inflammatory and rarely helpful, we must remember that fascism has some definable characteristics and that most (if not all) of the movements Goldberg describes can be seen to share many of these characteristics. If it walks like duck, etc. Others have taken her to task for conflating Christian fundamentalists with Christian evangelicals with Christian nationalists with theocrats etc., implying that because the Christian nationalist movement is decentralized and diffuse that it is not real at all. These criticisms, all specious, are tactics employed by the theocratic right, along with a cynical use of "religious liberty," to pursue a pernicious agenda under the radar. We ignore Goldberg's book and the movements to which she alludes at our peril.
39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2006
Ms. Goldberg's book is a must-read for liberals, secularists, and mainstream Christians. I do not find her conclusions overblown or alarmist, but in fact quite astute. The facts speak for themselves, and she has done a commendable job of connecting the dots between the GOP and the dominionist movement, illuminating their goals and their processes. I do not think it is wild speculation, for it is clear that the evangelical right is making strong progress inflitrating the GOP, and there is every reason to believe that this will continue. It is a sad state of affairs, I believe, that in this modern age, this movement has acquired a veneer of legitimacy in the public discourse. The dominionist/christian reconstructionist movement is a gathering threat, and should be treated as such.
37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2006
I am a 'Liberal Thinker' living in Mississippi (I know; an oxymoron, at best). I find it interesting that most of the reviews which claim this book's findings to be 'paranoid', etc., are written by urban, Northern readers. The other side, like myself, who live in rural, and/or Southern areas, know from where the author speaks.
Wake Up Yankees and city-folk! (And I am originally both, myself). There is a rampant and, sadly, creeping increase in the number of people who are described accurately in her book. And they are on the hunt for more, and more power; they are no longer spending most of their time in church, Sunday school, etc. THIS is what the author is trying to say: they feel that they must no longer sit on the sidelines, and just vote for their "true" candidates in local elections; they feel the world is getting more and more 'evil', that the 'end of days' is near, and that they therefore must do what they 'must do' to fight the Antichrist (whomever that is to them). I know you think I am only saying this because of where I live, but people here are acting evermore and more aggressively, and in their own fashion, so are the right-wingers all over our country!
Unfortunately, if they would stay to themselves, and even limit their opinions and power-grabbing to their past activities like trying to convert people like me, going on 'mission trips', traveling around the South to their various summer tent revivals a-la-Elmer Gantry, etc., - no problem. BUT THEY HAVE CHANGED!!! I have been here 6 (long) years now, and I have seen them expanding more and more - towards more power on a national level, and also towards taking on larger as well as more overt acts re: their beliefs. One example is the PA evolution case some other reviewer cited. Here in Missssssssippppi (where many of these things emanate from) they are passing crazier and crazier laws. And I predict that these, like any epidemic, will spread insome fashion, to a state like yours. 5 years ago, the egislature voted that each school room, even kindergarten rooms, must post a sign "In God We Trust". My daughter, in 2nd grade at the time, asked 'What does that mean? And why is it in a school? I mean, shouldn't it be in a church or someplace like that?' Thank goodness for the clear thinking of youth.
Then, 2 years ago, the right-wing forces here, ever on the warpath to ensure that their actions will stop the spread of criminal and wrong-thinking behavior had a bill enacted ordering that each public building has the right to post one or both of the following: the Ten Commandments (of course) and/or an excerpt for The Sermon on the Mount. One of the legislators explained 'We don't care if its illegal; sometimes you just gotta do what's right'.
And, let's not forget the former Alabama Judge refusing to move that stone behemoth of the Ten Commandments, no matter what it cost him personally. Plus that matter didn't end there; not only did legions of his supporters gather at his courthouse for endless prayer sessions, but he probably will run for Governor of that state; coffers of monies from all over the country have already been promised to his campaign coffers. Also - even though that replica of the 10 Commandments weighs more than King Kong, the top politicians begged the ex-Judge for it, so he shipped (?) it to our state (and others) - it came here to be displayed on the grounds of our state capitol, where each gubanatorial candidate make speeches outdoing the other in his "neverending-until-the-day-I-die-over-my-dead-politican's-cold-white-hands'-body-will-you-pry-this-most-holy-replica-of-why-we-are-here-on-earth-and-why-only-we-and-not-anyone-else-will-ever-enter-the-kingdom-of-heaven-and-the-'others'-can-only-BURN-IN-HELL-FOR-ALL-ETERNITY".
I know many of you reading this will think "she's only saying that because of where she lives"!
Of course, this isn't what is exactly happening in the North, or other non-Southern places. BUT - more and more religious extremists are increasingly involved in politics there as well. Besides the PA case, in Ohio they are debating teaching 'Creative Design' (huh?!) in the schools. All over, some politicians are positive that the cause of juvenile "misbehavior" is the lack of prayer, etc., in the schools. And it goes on and on. They are getting bolder and bolder and, unfortunately, the politicians feel they have to cater to them more & more. Pres. Bush finally vetoed a bill - the first time in 6 years+ - BECAUSE of the religious right. I'm not saying he himself doesn't share their beliefs; but that is NOT the reason for his one and only veto. And the Democrats are not much better. I never thought I would see the day when Senator Hillary C. would actually tell an audience something to the effect that she 'sympathizes' with feelings that abortion=murder. And she is currently representing New York and wants to represent the whole nation! If that doesn't back up what the author states in her book, I don't know what does. We MUST fight back. Let's call our politicians, and others, every opportunity we can!!!!
One final thought: I do agree with one reviewer that the views fo these religious far-right folks are not held by most Christians; and also that we must ask why? Why are these religious rt. wingers becoming more and more forceful? I think its because they are very, very frightened. And we should try to approach them from that angle, with understanding; but, at the same time, we must make them understand that we will also push back against their attempts.
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2006
Fascism is a totalitarian philosophy that emphasizes state power to the exclusion of personal liberty. "Islamo Fascists," according to the Bush administration, are radical elements of Islam intent on destroying freedom and encoding fundamentalist Islamic law in civil society. Reading Goldberg's book, I couldn't help noticing that Christian Nationalism is to America what "Islamo Fascists" are to Islamic countries; a radicalized religious movement intent on destroying personal liberty and codifying their religious views into secular law.
One of the things I liked best about Goldberg's book is the extent to which she quotes the movement's leaders, in effect letting them dig the hole they fall into. For example, Christian Nationalism asserts the supremacy of Biblical law over constitutional law, illustrated by Howard Philips, quoted by Goldberg:
`The overarching question we face today is: `Who is America's sovereign?' and `What is his law?'... The Holy Bible makes clear that Jesus Christ is our sovereign...Clearly, if the words of the framers are honored, Congress has no authority to restrict the establishment of Biblical religion in the State of Alabama - neither has any federal judge such authority." [p. 167]
No liberal could possibly define the threat to our constitutional government from Christian Nationalism better than Philips. Goldberg gives the inside scoop on how the religious right plans to infiltrate and control the government, and use it to establish a religious/fascist state. One step in this plan is indoctrination of youth. As Goldberg explains:
"The influence of these kids, trained from infancy to be Christian culture warriors, is already making itself felt. Ferris's Patrick Henry College, located in rural Virginia, caters specifically to home schooled evangelical students. It has existed only since 2000, and accepts fewer than one hundred students a year, yet in 2004's spring semester it provided 7 percent of the White House's interns. Twenty-two conservative congressmen have employed one or more Patrick Henry interns, and a Patrick Henry graduate works on Karl Rove's staff.." [pp 2-3]
Another page from their playbook is to fly under the radar. Goldberg explains how the religious right trains its members to keep a low profile:
"Christian Coalition manuals urged candidates to keep their religious agenda quiet until after they were elected. Supporters would learn who the local Christian Coalition candidates were through voter guides distributed at evangelical churches, but the general public was often in the dark." [pp 14-15]
Reading Goldberg's book, one of the things that struck me was how extreme this movement really is; thus the reason for keeping their agenda out of the public view. Here's an example from Goldberg's book:
"In 2003, Rick Santorum told the Associated Press, `...the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, ... [but]... this right to privacy ... doesn't exist in my opinion... You say, well, it's my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society, because it condones behavior that's antithetical to strong, healthy families." [p. 157]
Rick Santorum is a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. He is just one in a long list of high-profile Republicans supporting Christian Nationalism. Others include George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Ned Ryun (former speech writer for Bush), Tom Coburn, Jim Demint, Orin Hatch, Tim LaHaye, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.
Like many movements, Christian Nationalism has evolved from earlier roots. Goldberg explains that "today's Christian Nationalism movement began in the anti-Communist John Birch Society, "a conspiracy-minded grassroots group founded in 1958...Christian nationalist arguments and campaigns often precisely echo Birch propaganda, and movement leaders like Tim LaHaye began as Birch organizers." [pp 10-11]
Their strategy is pretty straight forward: control the political arena, dismantle public institutions (such as public schools) that are offensive to the movement, and install activist judges that will "legislate from the bench" and help establish the Christian Nationalist's agenda.
The central premise of Christian Nationalism is that fundamentalist Christians have an inherent right of dominion; the God-given right to impose their religious views and literal interpretation of the Bible on society. They seek to outlaw birth control and abortion, reinstate school prayer, and promote their version of Christianity through public schools and government institutions. They advocate their right to engage in discrimination (based on sex, religion, gender, sexual orientation and nationality) while being funded by public monies. They oppose science on many fronts, including evolution, global warming, biological research, reproductive science, and the environment. Their foreign policy is dictated largely by the belief that we are in the "last days," prior to Jesus' return, and that America must support Israel, even when they engage in war crimes. They look forward in anxious anticipation to the next world war; the climax of which they believe will be the triumphant return of Jesus, when those who support their view of religion will be caught up in the "rapture" while everyone else dies an ignoble death.
Not surprisingly, a major component of the movement is propaganda. It's a shameless formula for fascism. As Hannah Arendt said:
"Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of the man who can fabricate it." [87, quoting Hannah Arendt, "The Origins of Totalitarianism"]
The book focuses solely on the leaders - shakers and movers - of Christian Nationalism, but fails to mention or discuss many of their fringe supporters that are not directly associated with the movement (the Mormons, for example). This was a mistake by Goldberg, in my estimation, because these fringe supporters have often provided some of the most consistent support for the movement.
With just that one complaint, this book ranks as one of the best I've read this year. It's a remarkable book that needs to be read by every American patriot.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2007
Good journalistic writing about a subject which would be laughable if it were not so worrying. Only 4 stars, as MG never attempts to convince anybody who is not already on her side. That may be a sign of a realistic approach, but it also leaves one a little short of satisfied.
Not sure either if her quotes from H. Arendt on totalitarianism quite make it clear what kind of threat to civilization we are looking at here. I see Christian fundamentalism less like a new bolshevism, fascism or nazism, but more like "our" Western version of the Taliban or the Iranian mullahs' theocracy. Terrible no doubt, but different from Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao etc.
Not being American myself, nor living in the US, I am not constantly exposed to the antics of US christianity. I need this kind of book to keep abreast of the evolution of madness. Best parts of MG's book are those about the cultural war on the "gay threat" and on evolution vs. designism.
For me, the Eureka moment when I understood the nature of a strong current in today's US public was the ridiculous uproar over Janet's boob. Oh my, if a partly naked beautiful woman can threaten the world as much as many claimed, then really the US is on par with Afghanistan. Culturally.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2006
Michelle Goldberg, a reporter for the online magazine Salon, has written what will strike us "blue" staters (sorry to be so simplistic, but it's just so darn...convenient) as something out of a horror movie--but it's all true. Traveling from megachurches to courthouses to faith-based drug "treatment" centers, she relates the history and current plans of what she calls the Christian Nationalist movement, an offshoot of the even scarier ideology of Christian Reconstruction, which states that America has always been and will be again a strictly Christian nation, and that secularism is a lie spawned by the devil. Their strategy to take the country "back" involves a kind of Trojan horse scheme in which legions of home-schooled Christian soldiers, law degrees in hand, slowly infiltrate school boards, courts and finally the government and transform the entire culture into something that combines Old Testament legal codes with New Testament evangelism. They carefully mimic secular speech and attitudes, but beneath the "code" they signal their true agenda. For instance, George W. Bush's old campaign slogan of "compassionate conservatism" echoes the title of a book by one of the movement's leading strategists, Marvin Olasky.
In one chapter, Ms. Goldberg relates how thinly-disguised propaganda spouted from megachurches helped pass anti-gay marriage initiatives in every state they were on the ballot in the '04 elections (and maybe ensured Bush's victory). This confounded democratic campaign workers, who saw little or no competition in their door-to-door operations.
Elsewhere, she reveals how the Bush administration's "faith-based" initiative has turned into a gravy train for organizations whose main goal is Christian prosyletizing! Even more worrisome, these groups aren't bound by equal-opportunity employment rules, so they're free to discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.
There are also chapters on how creationism, um, "evolved" into "intelligent design" and the holy war against the courts in the wake of the Terri Schiavo case. The plan for the courts is especially scary, since they want to either stack them with "true believers" or, through lawsuits, strip them of their legitimacy, creating a power vacuum they'd be happy to fill.
From the beginning of the book, Ms. Goldberg admits that she's an urbanite secularist (she lives in Brooklyn), but for the vast majority of the book she lets the Nationalists' words and actions speak for themselves. In fact, it's only in her conclusion that I think she falters. Her solutions to opposing the movement--which she sees correctly as incipient fascism--all involve the government or the courts. This misses the root problem, in my view, which is faith itself. The extremist beliefs of fundamentalists must be challenged and their minds changed, since Ms. Goldberg's ideas, although logical, would only result in an endless tug-of-war. I'm not suggesting that secular humanists start knocking on doors a la Jehovah's Witnesses, but liberals and civil libertarians must use the media to their advantage. Even the supposedly liberal entertainment business should get more involved. If explicitly pro-secular movies are too risky, at least we should see something at least pro-science and pro-fact. The alternative, if the Christian Nationalists have their way, would be be all Americans of all faiths (or none) being trapped in a hell of their making.
34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2008
The organized push from Evangelicals to dissolve the separation between church and state is currently one of the most potent threats to individual rights in the United States. With 'Kingdom Coming', Michelle Goldberg presents a detailed intellectual history of Christian Nationalism as well as documents how Evangelicals have permeated American culture.
This book is rich in intellectual history. In the first chapter, Goldberg explains Dominionism, which holds that Christians have the god-given right and duty to be sovereign over one's country, if not the entire world. This idea derives from Christian Reconstructionism, which argues that American law should be replaced by Biblical law.
You will learn about many important figures in the intellectual origins of Christian Nationalism. This includes the following thinkers and writers:
* R. J. Rushdoony, the profoundly influential prolific writer who wrote that homosexuals, blasphemers and unchaste women should be sentenced to death as well as insisted that Jesus Christ would not return until Christians establish a thousand-year reign on Earth. Rushdoony is the father of Christian Reconstructionism.
* Francis Schaeffer, whose 'Christian Manifesto' argued that history is a contest between two antipodal forces: the Christian worldview and a materialist (secular) worldview, that the U.S. was founded on a Christian Consensus and that any public official who "commands what is contrary to God's Law [abrogates his authority]." Unfortunately, Goldberg only speaks of Schaeffer for a little over two pages.
* David Barton, a Christian revisionist historian who writes extensively on how the separation between church and state is a myth and that the founding fathers intended for basic biblical principles to permeate public life.
* Marvin Olasky, a prolific writer who is considered the founder of Compassionate Conservatism. One of Olasky's major works, 'The Tragedy of American Compassion', argues that there was a golden age of social services provided by churches until the secular government of Franklin Delano Roosevelt made social welfare the government's responsibility. President George W. Bush cites Olasky as his leading influence for funding faith-based initiatives.
This book also thoroughly documents how Evangelicals are changing American culture. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
* Many widely-read revisionist history books such as Barton's 'Original Intent'.
* Textbooks designed to bring Christian science and morality into classrooms such as the intelligent design championing text 'Of Pandas and People'.
* Television shows that promote Christian ideology such as Pat Robertson's '700 Club'.
* Rock concerts and campus clubs intended to convert and recruit the younger generation.
* Highly influential political activists such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Ralph Reed and their respective non-profit political organizations.
* Active Christian think-tanks such as Answers in Genesis, Discovery Institute and the Family Research Council.
* Media moguls such as the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
* Many recent/current legislators with openly pro-Evangelical agendas such as Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, Rick Santorum, Jesse Helms and former House Majority Leader Tom Delay.
After the first, each chapter is organized around a specific political campaigns that the Religious Right has embraced: against gays, for intelligent design, for faith-based initiatives, for abstinence-only education and against "activist" judges. The ongoing war on abortion rights is also thoroughly treated.
My only complaint is that, like a waitress who seasons your food without asking, the author rudely inserts her socialist views throughout the book. She even explicitly celebrates FDR's New Deal for "[bringing] socialism to America." As if everyone who is anti-religion is also pro-socialism! Irritating as this is, it does not ruin an otherwise informative book.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2006
Yes, the fundamentalist Christian right is indeed a threat - and Michelle Goldberg presents an accurate picture of their plans to 'Christianize' the United States & make its laws, constitution, officials, and institutions subject to their narrow-minded, 'Biblical' law. She presents the statements of many figures in the aspiring 'Christian Taliban' - such as James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Tim LaHaye, Donald Wildmon, Pat Robertson, Roy Moore, and others - which include such prominent Republican party officials as Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn, John Ashcroft, and of course, George W. himself. These men are truly representative of a Christian Taliban - some even want to prohibit consensual sex outside of marriage & give the government power to enforce it! The aspirations of these people are chilling - they want to use the power of the judiciary & law-enforcement to ram fundamentalist Christian beliefs down Americans' throats. Mainstream Christians who do not share the ultra-conservative views of these men should read this book as well; it is a major wake-up call to what they are planning to do.
Those who criticize the book as 'persecuting Christians' have got it wrong; Mainstream Christians who believe in tolerance of others' religions, including atheism, are not the threat; the fundamentalist zealots who wish to force their dogma on Americans using the power of the government to do so are the threat. It is these people who Ms. Goldberg focuses on and not the mainstream Christian churches.
Along with John Dean's 'Conservatives Without Conscience', this book is a deadly serious warning about a conservative fundamentalist movement that borders on a mentality similar to those they claim to be fighting in radical Islam. If these men are allowed to further their views using the U.S. legislative, executive & judicial branches to do so, the United States will soon indeed be a theocratic country.