Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism
Author: Michelle Goldberg
"A potent wakeup call to pluralists in the coming showdown with Christian nationalists."Publishers Weekly, starred review
Michelle Goldberg, a senior political reporter for Salon.com, has been covering the intersection of politics and ideology for years. Before the 2004 election, and during the ensuing months when many Americans were trying to understand how an administration marked by cronyism, disregard for the national budget, and poorly disguised self-interest had been reinstated, Goldberg traveled through the heartland of a country in the grips of a fevered religious radicalism: the America of our time. From the classroom to the mega-church to the federal court, she saw how the growing influence of dominionism-the doctrine that Christians have the right to rule nonbelievers-is threatening the foundations of democracy.
In Kingdom Coming, Goldberg demonstrates how an increasingly bellicose fundamentalism is gaining traction throughout our national life, taking us on a tour of the parallel right-wing evangelical culture that is buoyed by Republican political patronage. Deep within the red zones of a divided America, we meet military retirees pledging to seize the nation in Christ's name, perfidious congressmen courting the confidence of neo-confederates and proponents of theocracy, and leaders of federally funded programs offering Jesus as the solution to the country's social problems.
With her trenchant interviews and the telling testimonies of the people behind this movement, Goldberg gains access into the hearts and minds of citizens who are striving to remake the secular Republic bequeathed by our founders into aChristian nation run according to their interpretation of scripture. In her examination of the ever-widening divide between believers and nonbelievers, Goldberg illustrates the subversive effect of this conservative stranglehold nationwide. In an age when faith rather than reason is heralded and the values of the Enlightenment are threatened by a mystical nationalism claiming divine sanction, Kingdom Coming brings us face to face with the irrational forces that are remaking much of America.
In an impressive piece of lucid journalism, Salon.com reporter Goldberg dives into the religious right and sorts out the history and networks of what to most liberals is an inscrutable parallel universe. She deconstructs "dominion theology," the prevalent evangelical assertion that Christians have a "responsibility to take over every aspect of society." Goldberg makes no attempt to hide her own partisanship, calling herself a "secular Jew and ardent urbanite" who wrote the book because she "was terrified by America's increasing hostility to... cosmopolitan values." This carefully researched and riveting treatise will hardly allay its audience's fears, however; secular liberals and mainstream believers alike will find Goldberg's descriptions of today's culture wars deeply disturbing. She traces the deep financial and ideological ties between fundamentalist Christians and the Republican Party, and discloses the dangers she believes are inherent to the Bush administration's faith-based social services initiative. Other chapters follow inflammatory political tactics on wedge issues like gay rights, evolution and sex education. Significantly, her conclusions do not come off as hysterical or shrill. Even while pointing to stark parallels between fascism and the language of the religious right, Goldberg's vision of America's future is measured and realistic. Her book is a potent wakeup call to pluralists in the coming showdown with Christian nationalists. (May 15) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Salon.com editor Goldberg examines the growing belief among some Chirstians that they have a right to take over governing in Christ's name. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
American democracy and the Enlightenment itself are menaced by would-be theocrats and their Republican operatives, contends Salon.com reporter Goldberg. The author brands conservative Christian influence in public life as proto-fascist and a Western version of Islamism. In her view, the subversives are everywhere, passing anti-gay-marriage initiatives and lobbying for anti-abortion judges; more subversives are on the way, because homeschooling is simply an incubator for revolution. The menace is "Christian nationalism," a movement whose tenets Goldberg seeks to relate to the Reconstructionist theology of the late R.J. Rushdoony. He was a genuine theocrat, a postmillennialist who held that Christ would return after believers had thoroughly Christianized the world. In contrast, premillennial American evangelicals hold that Christ will return to a collapsing world, which implies that political reform by believers would ultimately be futile. One of the great stories in the history of the past generation has been the search of newly vibrant American evangelicalism for a political theory. The author infers that Reconstructionism is the new master philosophy, in part because conventional politicians and religious leaders sometimes appear at the same public events as Reconstructionists; she makes no mention of the systematic efforts by some evangelicals to engage Catholic social theory. Goldberg does provide some good reporting, however. She shows that the fiscal controls on the Bush Administration's faith-based initiatives are loose. During her investigation of abstinence-only sex education, she allows its proponents to make a case she finds unpersuasive but plausible. Nonetheless, the authordeclares that now is the time to fight the Christian nationalists, not to placate them. She ends by exhorting her readers to retake the country from the grassroots up. If you think that Christianity is the new Communism, then this is the book for you.
Age of Reform
Author: Richard Hofstadter
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. A classic study of American political thought that analyzes the passion for progress and reform from 1890 to 1940.