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How the Republicans Stole Christmas: The Republican Party's Declared Monopoly on Religion and What Democrats Can Do to Take It Back Hardcover – October 11, 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this readable piece of punditry, Press, who happens to be not only a pundit but also a former seminarian, preaches to the Democratic Party choir, addressing such topics as abortion, separation of church and state, homosexuality and stem cell research. While impassioned, entertaining and sure to please loyalists, Press's arguments do not always bear much scrutiny. For example, when discussing abortion, he resorts too often to the extreme cases of rape and incest, although (as he ultimately acknowledges) only a tiny percentage of abortions are performed for those reasons. More compelling is his argument for the separation of church and state, which thoughtfully reminds readers how and why religion and government need to be protected from each other in order to flourish. After spending most of the book arguing against the political positions of the religious right, Press ends with suggestions to the Democratic Party for taking back religion from the small band of evangelical Christians that now wields power. Though somewhat uneven, this interesting book joins the recent work of Jim Wallis, John Shelby Spong and Charles March in articulating alternative visions of Christianity that are consonant with progressive values. (Oct. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

With great anger and passion, Press, political commentator for Sirius Radio, laments the Republican Party's declared monopoly on religion and the infusion of religion into American politics. Drawing on a degree in theology, a decade in seminary, and long experience in political campaigns, Press juxtaposes various political issues--the death penalty, abortion, gay marriage--against religious doctrine, debunking the religious Right's declarations that their positions are derived from scripture. He traces the heavy influence of the religious Right on Republicans to the 1979 creation of the Moral Majority by Reverend Jerry Falwell and notes that, in George W. Bush, the religious Right has finally found a man willing to transform religious beliefs into policy. Recalling the traditional Democratic approach of keeping religion out of politics, even when dealing with classic issues of civil rights and poverty, Press urges Democrats to close the perceived "moral gap" between the parties. Although taking a partisan position, this thoughtful look at religion and politics in America will interest even those who may not agree with its premises. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Religion (October 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385516053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385516051
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,424,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Bill is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. A lifelong Catholic, Press believes the Republican Party hijacked religion in the 2004 election: "Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists... all out in the cold" since Conservative Christianity took over the Republican Party. If that's not bad enough, the Liberals offered no resistance, standing by while Conservatives established the moral code of the country, the Jesus who stood up for the poor and suffering made an advocate for the wealthy and powerful, tackling gays, guns and abortion with enthusiasm. Long familiar as a Liberal political commentator, Press felt the sting of the last election, the division of red and blue states and the exclusivity of one party unpalatable to the country in general. Rather than become entrenched in bitterness and complaints, in this book Press challenges his fellow Democrats to take back their ownership of social issues and moral responsibility. He tackles all the hot issues in these chapters, debating each, supported by quotes from politics and scripture: the separation of Church and State, the death penalty, abortion and stem cell research, gays and lesbians.

Beginning with the 2004 election and the many issues now before the public, Press is certainly incensed, but his discontent reads more like a deep, personal outrage than the current issues that have created such a cultural divide in the red and blue, let alone the black and white. Quoting Robert Kennedy: "What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists, is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant." In a country built on freedom of speech and religious worship, perhaps this is the cruelest cut of all, that the differences of faith cannot find common ground.
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Format: Hardcover
Finally, a US citizen who can verbalize with clarity, the lessons Jesus wanted us to learn. How can George Bush & the "moral majority" ignore the teachings of Christ & have the blessing of the American people. The word "Morality" does not just address sexual preference. Materialism, the use of power, greed, coveting our world neighbors assets, murdering innocent citizens of other countries is what God will call us on when our time comes. This book motivates Christians who believe in the US Constitution and the teachings of Christ to stand up and be heard, then counted!
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Format: Hardcover
Having managed to come across an early review copy of this title, I must say I'm suitably impressed with the research which went into this title. Mr. Press outlines the 'mandate' the republican majority seems to believe they received with the election and then the re-election of President Bush. He also outlines several contentious issues which the republicans have used throughout the decades to push religion into the public sphere where it is forced on those who do not agree with their views. Or forced on individuals who are not 'believers' in the sense of a true religious belief. Through exhaustive quotes of our founding fathers, of whom George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are just a few, and exhaustive research on biblical texts, Mr. Press has concluded rightly that our country is NOT a Christian Nation as the fundamentalists would have us believe. And even more singularly, Christianity desires to maintain it's necessary distance from influencing the government as well.
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Format: Hardcover
Press laments that the religious reich has distorted 'Christianity' and 'values' but he does not call for a religious theocracy of his own inside this book. Instead, his work is powerful because it has the reader question 'what would Jesus REALLY do?' were he to come back to modern America.

Since the 1970's, the Republican Party is courting evangelicals (and vice versa) through highly loaded emotional imagery. Their coercion produces the racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism throughout in our society because 'nobody' wants to be against Jesus. These groups convince people that unless we do what they say, we will not be "Christian".

I read this book in the aftermath of Katrina--ironically when those groups are now silent about morality. The federal, state, and local governments (packed with 'their' people) are accused of neglecting predominantly poor African American people who could not just jump into their cars and evacuate. Meanwhile, FEMA came under public scrutiny because then-director Michael Brown delayed sending in aid.

This book argues that it is not what labels we call ourselves but how we treat other people who are less fortunate than ourselves which should really measure 'ethics'. We need to look out for the less fortunate among ourselves.

He also highlights discrepancies between the right's clamoring for 'tradition' and their attack on the constitutionally mandated wall of separation between church and state. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (among others) knew that the establishment of an official state religion harmed all people and would undercut the foundations of a 'democracy'. They were religious, but recognized that their right to practice their religion ended with themselves. We commit the ultimate affront against tradition when we attempt to pretend they would endorse today's bible-thumping.
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