Thy Kingdom Come

The distinguished author of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory returns with a searing examination of a new generation of evangelical leaders who have hijacked the Christian faith on behalf of the Republican Party

For much of American history, evangelicalism was aligned with progressive political causes. Nineteenth-century evangelicals fought for the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage, and public education. But contemporary conservative activists have defaulted on this majestic legacy, embracing instead an agenda virtually indistinguishable from the Republican Party platform. Abortion, gay marriage, intelligent design–the Religious Right is fighting, and winning, some of the most important political battles of the twentyfirst century. How has evangelical Christianity become so entrenched in partisan politics?

Randall Balmer is both an evangelical Christian and a historian of American religion. Struggling to reconcile the contemporary state of evangelical faith in America with its proud tradition of progressivism, Balmer has headed to the frontlines of some of the most powerful and controversial organizations tied to the Religious Right. With a skillful combination of grassroots organization, ideological conviction, and media savvy, the leaders of the movement have mobilized millions of American evangelical Christians behind George W. Bush’s hard-right political agenda. Deftly combining ethnographic research, theological reflections, and historical context, Balmer laments the trivialization of Christianity–and offers a rallying cry for liberal Christians to reclaim the noble traditions of their faith.

- Amazon Editorial Review

Resource Types: Books.

Review & Commentary

One thought on “Thy Kingdom Come

  1. Review

    Balmer is a professor of religion at Barnard College, Columbia University,
    and a contributing editor to Christianity Today. He’s just as
    passionate as Meyers in his distaste for the influence of the religious
    right in politics today. But Balmer, a well-known evangelical himself,
    channels his energy into a beautifully-crafted history of the
    individuals and organizations that dominate this powerful movement. Unlike
    other analysts, Balmer doesn’t believe that abortion and homosexuality
    were the matches that lit a fire under the Christian Right. For decades
    after their embarrassment in the Scopes “monkey trial”, biblical
    literalists were more or less content to remain a subculture. But the
    walls around their separatist domains began to crumble with a court
    decision in 1972 that ruled that any institution that practiced racial
    segregation was not tax-exempt. A related IRS decision against Bob Jones University
    in 1975, attacking its policy against interracial dating, resulted in a
    flurry of organizing to resist such perceived intrusions. Balmer
    believes it was racism, and the legal challenges to their isolated
    enclaves of their institutions, that hardened the resolve of
    fundamentalists and evangelicals to engage in overt political
    action. Abortion and homosexuality were added only later to the
    Christian Right’s agenda, in order to give it broader
    appeal. Conservative religious leaders concocted what Balmer calls the
    “abortion myth” by claiming that their movement began with the Roe v.
    Wade decision of 1973, attempting to cover-up the dirtier roots of
    their coalition.With
    careful documentation, Balmer reveals the manipulation of evangelical
    institutions, the deformation of evangelical theology and biblical
    interpretation, and the cynical power-brokering of Christian Right
    leaders over a period of thirty years. His chapter on “Deconstructing
    Democracy” is particularly compelling. It details the organized effort
    of the movement to ruin the public school system. While he includes his
    personal views, and shares engaging stories of his testy encounters
    with Christian Right leaders, Balmer keeps hyperbole to a minimum. The
    facts themselves are appallingly fascinating.  It’s hard to put the
    book down, and harder yet, after reading it, to imagine sitting still
    and letting the Christian Right continue in its destructive trajectory
    without a vigorous response by progressives.

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