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How the Republicans Stole Religion: Why the Religious Right is Wrong about Faith & Politics and What We Can Do to Make it Right Paperback – November 21, 2006
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Bill Press has done an outstanding job of putting on paper many of the arguments that I make on the web. He's got name recognition that I will probably never have. But I urge any who appreciate his views to explore and to recommend my 200+ page web site, which you can find by Googling "Liberals Like Christ".
While you are at it, Google "Republican corruption" and you will find that, of the 1,700,000 sites that it will provide the very first one suggested is my page on that subject which I have been improving for years. Check it out and you will see why it has been in that first place for at least six months.
Despite the title which paraphrases the title of a famous book by Theodore Geisel,* this is not a book written for very young children, but it is one that should be in every junior high and high school library.
Press, with his background of training in a Roman Catholic theological school, can and does call out members of the alliance:
. . . According to the very limited gospel of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and a handful of Catholic bishops, unless you believe that God put George W. Bush in the White House-where he gets his advice straight from the Almighty Himself-and unless you agree with conservatives on gays, guns, and abortion, you are going straight to Hell.
. . . What I want to know is: Who died and gave this gang divine authority to define what's moral and what's not? It certainly wasn't Jesus Christ.
. . .
. . . Excuse me. Have these people ever read the New Testament? Starting with [Matthew] the message of Jesus is clear and strong:
Following are six quotes from Matthew: "Blessed are the peacemakers . . ." [5:9], "Love your enemies . . ." [5:44], ". . . sell your possessions and give to the poor . . ." [19:21], "It is easier for a camel . . ." [19:24], "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat . . ." [25:35-36], and ". . . all who draw the sword will die by the sword" [26:52]
And with his knowledge of American history and the Constitution Press debunks the fraudulent claims that United States was founded as a Christian nation, and that the first amendment was not intended to keep church and state separate.
In addition to separation of church and state, Press has chapters on Killing in the Name of Jesus, The Death Penalty, Abortion and Stem Cell Research, Gays and Lesbians, God in the Classroom, and Cashing In on God's Love. In every chapter, Press argues cogently on the side of what Rabbi Rami Shapiro calls Lovingkindness,^ that is, treating people decently. He begins the last chapter with a very perceptive and even prophetic quote from Will Rogers (died 15-August-1935): "I really believe that if it came to a vote whether to go to war with England, France and Germany combined, or raise the tax on incomes over $100,000, the Republicans would vote for war." [$100,000 in 1935 = more than two million today]
* Pen-name Dr. Seuss.
^ Rabbi Rami Shapiro: The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice
He begins this 2005 book with the sober assessment, "With the help of religious conservatives, Republicans have stolen religion... Conservative Christians have taken over the Republican party and have declared a monopoly on religion." He then proceeds to argue that (1) Conservatives have no monopoly on religion; (2) conservatives are wrong on many social issues; (3) conservative "moral values" are not the morality of the New Testament; and (4) conservatives have turned Jesus into "a coldhearted monster who cares only for the rich and powerful." (Pg. 33)
He refers to G.W. Bush as "the most ostentatiously religious president in history," who "swaggers with religion." (Pg. 9) And he persuasively argues that Jesus would not have done what President Bush did---give three tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans ("making it harder for that camel to squeeze through a needle"); pg. 26-27.
He reproves Republicans in the Terry Schiavo case for enacting emergency, special-interest legislation that applied to only one person, "without one single legislative hearing." (Pg. 37) He also observes (pg. 89) that the Iraq War meets none of the traditional Christian criteria for a "just war."
He concludes on the note, "nobody has a monopoly on religion or moral values." (Pg. 269)
This book is a very useful discussion of religion in contemporary politics.
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