From Publishers Weekly
Georgetown University professor Berlinerblau (The Secular Bible
) makes the unoriginal argument that American politicians on the left and right use Scripture in their speeches, and that policy wonks on both sides of the aisle draw on the Bible to defend positions on the environment, stem-cell research and foreign policy. Berlinerblau finds politicians' use of Scripture to be shallow—they offer poor and tendentious readings, throwing in a verse here or there and failing to acknowledge Scripture's internal diversity and contradictions. A few of Berlinerblau's sweeping historical assertions are questionable—did the U.S. really undergo a thoroughgoing secularization in the first 75 years of the 20th century? A wealth of scholarship on the persistence of conservative religion and the extent to which religion shaped liberal agendas such as feminism would suggest not. His tone has the faint veneer of sarcasm (Enter, as if on cue, the Evangelical Climate Initiative), so when he gives speechwriters tips about using Scripture effectively—be vague, avoid theological depth—it is hard to tell if he is being sincere or snide. Two concluding chapters assess the ways leading presidential candidates, from Clinton to McCain, present their religious bona fides. (Jan.)
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This book uniquely combines the author s expertise as a biblical scholar with his canny perception of the American political scene in a volatile presidential election year. Events move quickly and unpredictably, but this kind of analysis may prove useful for a long time to come. --J. Philip Wogaman, author of From the Eye of the Storm: A Pastor to the President Speaks Out, and former pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, DC.
Jacques Berlinerblau ... couldn't be more timely with his wittily titled warning to presidential wannabes....The message here is that Oval Office hopefuls, all of whom are prone to quoting from the Good Book to support their positions, need to be more careful about those slippery, contradictory, and sometimes even nonexistent passages from the Bible. Try as one might, it's hard to make a compelling case against stem cell research from anything contained in the Old or New Testaments. But try pols most certainly will, on this and other matters, and the results of their efforts should come, Berlinerblau tongue-in-cheekishly suggests, with a candidate's disclaimer that his (or her) use of a particular passage may be subject to radically different readings. --From US News & World Report, written by Jay Tolson on his "Faith Notes Blog"