Democracy Under Assault
WHO'S WHO IN THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT, Edd Doerr, free inquiry, April/May 2006 (pp65-66)
Democracy Under Assault: TheoPolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right, by Michele Swenson (Sol Ventures Press, 2005, ISBN 0-9766788-2) 259 pp. Paper $20.
This important, compact, quite readable book could easily have been titled Everything You Might Ever Want to Know about the Theopolitical Right: Personalities, Ideologies, Agendas, Connections, Goals, Catch Phrases, Propaganda Gimmicks, and Methods of Operating.
Michele Swenson spent fifteen years putting together this encyclopedic (1,071 endnotes) who’s who, or rogue’s gallery, of the fundamentalist and secular movers and shakers. These are the architects of what is now a thirty-plus year campaign to transform the U.S. into a narrow, intolerant, fundamentalist, racist, sexist, economically ultraconservative penal colony. Of particular value is Swenson's explanation of the interconnections between the fundamentalist Religious Right, gun fanatics, racists, and anti-abortion and anti-contraception sexists.
This book is far too rich in detail to be summarized in a review of reasonable length. Suffice it to say that the author has not missed anything or anybody.
Foremost on the theopolitical agenda is the destruction of the wall between church and state, which entails replacing public schools with voucher-funded faith-based schools, replacing government- operated welfare programs with discriminatory faith-based operations, polluting public school science education with creationism, reintroducing government-mandated school prayer, and stripping women of reproductive freedom of conscience. Beyond that, the movement wants to clamp down on gays and lesbians, eliminate civil rights protections, and turn the country into an ultra-Puritan "city on a hill."
Among their methods are paranoid rants about Christians being persecuted (though 85% of Americans and 90% of members of Congress are Christian), accusations that Satanists and humanists have taken over the country, and use of extremely powerful media machines.
This book will make you upset and angry, but it merits the widest possible circulation. I wish I had written it.
Edd Doerr is the presidentof Americans for Religious Liberty, an immediate past president of the American Humanist Association, and a FREE INQUIRY columnist.