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God's Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right Hardcover – October 4, 2010
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Preachers, declared an impassioned Jerry Falwell in 1965, are not called to be politicians but to be soul winners. The historical irony in these words is particularly evident to Williams, who recounts how Falwell and other Evangelical preachers became power brokers within the Republican Party. What may surprise many readers, though, is how conservative Protestants began inserting themselves into the nation’s political process as early as the 1920s and 1930s, trying to use the platforms of both parties to combat cultural liberalism, and then more effectively pressing a bipartisan anticommunism in the 1950s. But Williams highlights a decisive turn in the late 1960s, when celebrity evangelist Billy Graham threw his support behind the shrewdly opportunistic Richard Nixon. Analysis of the 1970s reveals how social controversies—the ERA, the Pill, homosexual rights, abortion—intensified Evangelical commitment to the GOP. A more complex picture emerges in a concluding analysis showing younger Evangelicals discovering environmental and social-justice concerns. An essential resource for anyone trying to understand how religion affects American politics. --Bryce Christensen
''Williams...does as well as any writer to date in answering the basic questions of what went into making up the religious right.'' --The New Republic
''Thoroughly researched and engagingly written...God's Own Party should serve as the standard history of the latest Protestant Right for the foreseeable future.'' --Journal of American History
''A wonderfully thorough account of the Christian Right...A bright example of sound methodology, clear and concise prose, and rigorous analysis. Based on years of painstaking research in a multitude of periodicals, personal and political papers, and organizational records, God's Own Party effectively transports the reader through time, charting the development of Christian right-wing activism over the course of ninety years.'' --Journal of Southern Religion
''The best general study of the Religious Right.'' --Church History
"I have long sought a book that would present the history of how the GOP became, in the mind of most conservative Christians, God s Own Party...This is the book I have been waiting for...For an interesting and objective history of the Christian Right, I highly recommend Williams book. --Laurence M. Vance, LewRockwell.com
"[T]his book is a needed addition to scholarship on the rise of the New Right."--Religious Studies Review
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God's Own Party by Daniel K Williams. An in-depth study into the evolution of Fundamentalist Christianity in American politics and eventually the GOP. The author has done his homework, some I have read in other books and heard about from other sources. But, none quite so thorough in its scope. One of the best books I have read recently on the subject. From the beginnings in the 1920's to its present day intrusion into social issues (I like many other people, didn't realize it went that far back).
I personally do not believe religion has any place in politics especially in a party's platform. We are to diverse as a nation these days with far too many differing religions. We are also a secular nation where all religions are welcome. The Republican Party represents only one small faction of the country. I was raised to believe the Separation of Church and State was sacrosanct, if you didn't believe in it you didn't believe in the Constitution or anything connected with it. I believe religious people have a right to vote, to run for office and even have their voices heard in the public forum. But, that's where the line is in the sand. Anything beyond there is a violation of the constitution. When they take over a political party and make it to where it only reflects their myopic views. That is when they have gone way too far. As far as I am concerned religion in politics to many times has a disastrous effect. It corrupts both government and religion, as can be witnessed today. It turns a lot of us completely off and leaves a sour taste in our mouth.
So if you are interested in how the idea began to take shape and grow to where it's become a monster devouring us. This is the book for you. I can't rate it any higher than five stars. I haven't read another book like it. It answered all of my lingering questions about the Religious Right in the GOP.
While the situation will not (one hopes) result in another Inquisition (although some of the wilder fundamentalist shores demand Old Testament punishments such as death for homosexuals, adulterers, astrologers, boilers of young goats in their mother's milk, etc.), the desire to return to the Middle Ages appears strong. This is largely based not on the Bible, but, as this book points out, on a sort of US civic religion, in which the USA is seen as God's instrument on earth, and it is suffering because it has left the path of righteousness, as did Old Testament Israel, leading to the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem - remember how Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said that 9/11 was God's punishment for homosexuality and abortion?
The scary thing about this book is that it is not a polemic against the Religious Right. It is a scholarly but easy read, even-tempered and even-handed, setting forth the facts, often in the protagonists' own words. It starts at the beginning, with Billy Graham's seeking to influence the Eisenhower and Nixon White Houses, and it ends with the Barack Obama's first election, pointing out that the McCain/Palin ticket got the lion's share of the evangelical vote, and that the Religious Right was far from dead. We have just seen how accurate this was, and we see how correct was the civic religion bit, with evangelicals voting en mass for the narcissistic, misogynistic travesty of what appears at best an agnostic who now inhabits the White House. Yet he has the enthusiastic support of the likes of the founder of Focus on the James Dobson. American Christianity has won a political party, but lost its soul in the process, thus ignoring completely what the Man it supposedly reveres said in Matt.16:26. He, of course, would probably address them in the words of Luke 6:46 - and they would of course ignore Him. I fear there is worse to come. I hope not.
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Williams doesn't create dramatic narratives from his historical research,...Read more