It looks like my reading on religion and politics isn’t done yet. Thus far I’ve read: Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right’s Plans for the Rest of Us, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization, Jesus and the Disinherited, What God Has Joined Together?: A Christian Case for Gay Marriage, When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs, The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously, Pocket Guide To The Apocalypse: The Official Field Manual For The End Of The World, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, Skipping Towards Armageddon: The Politics and Propaganda of the Left Behind Novels and the LaHaye Empire, Letter to a Christian Nation, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, and The God Delusion.
Whew. I hadn’t realized how long that list was until I wrote it just now. That’s not counting the related titles sitting on my “to read” list and/or in a pile next to my desk. And it’s bound to get longer still. If Chris Hedges’ latest AlterNet column is any indication, I’ll have to add his American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America to the list, and maybe even move it to the front of the queue.
In fact, I’ll buy Hedges book if only to reward someone for saying something that, as Noam Chomsky has put it, is “unsayable,” or for taking on what Sam Harris has called the great “conversation stopper.
The Christian right has lured tens of millions of Americans, who rightly feel abandoned and betrayed by the political system, from the reality-based world to one of magic — to fantastic visions of angels and miracles, to a childlike belief that God has a plan for them and Jesus will guide and protect them. This mythological worldview, one that has no use for science or dispassionate, honest intellectual inquiry, one that promises that the loss of jobs and health insurance does not matter, as long as you are right with Jesus, offers a lying world of consistency that addresses the emotional yearnings of desperate followers at the expense of reality. It creates a world where facts become interchangeable with opinions, where lies become true — the very essence of the totalitarian state. It includes a dark license to kill, to obliterate all those who do not conform to this vision, from Muslims in the Middle East to those at home who refuse to submit to the movement. And it conveniently empowers a rapacious oligarchy whose god is maximum profit at the expense of citizens.
We now live in a nation where the top 1 percent control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined, where we have legalized torture and can lock up citizens without trial. Arthur Schlesinger, in “The Cycles of American History,” wrote that “the great religious ages were notable for their indifference to human rights in the contemporary sense — not only for their acquiescence in poverty, inequality and oppression, but for their enthusiastic justification of slavery, persecution, torture and genocide.”
… The radical Christian right, calling for a “Christian state” — where whole segments of American society, from gays and lesbians to liberals to immigrants to artists to intellectuals, will have no legitimacy and be reduced, at best, to second-class citizens — awaits a crisis, an economic meltdown, another catastrophic terrorist strike or a series of environmental disasters. A period of instability will permit them to push through their radical agenda, one that will be sold to a frightened American public as a return to security and law and order, as well as moral purity and prosperity. This movement — the most dangerous mass movement in American history — will not be blunted until the growing social and economic inequities that blight this nation are addressed, until tens of millions of Americans, now locked in hermetic systems of indoctrination through Christian television and radio, as well as Christian schools, are reincorporated into American society and given a future, one with hope, adequate wages, job security and generous federal and state assistance.
Strong stuff. Possibly frightening too, if Chris Matthews is right when he says “the country wants a little … bit of facism.” The kind of stuff one can get in an awful lot of trouble for saying, or that one at least can’t say without being labeled as “anti-religion” or a “religious bigot” or some sort.
I very rarely buy books in hardback editions, but tend to wait until the less expensive paperback version is published. There are books for which I’ll make an exception (some of which I mentioned earlier). And I’m thinking Hedges’ book will be one of them.
Never mind that I’ve got a small stack of related books to read, including: Divided by God: America’s Church-State Problem–and What We Should Do About It, The Battle for God, and Mindful Politics: A Buddhist Guide to Making the World a Better Place. If the rest of the book is like what I’ve just read, it may move to the top of the pile.