What’s Wrong With the Christian Right

Christians in the US who do not share the convictions of the Christian Right often feel frustrated that the news media ignore us altogether. At last a bold and powerful voice has arisen to set a lot of records straight. Jan Linn’s forceful and carefully reasoned analysis of what’s wrong with the Christian Right sets out an agenda for dialogue that needs to be taken very seriously, especially in this pivotal election year. The demonizing of the opposition, the linking of a particular way of reading the Bible with in-your-face patriotism, the baptizing of a single brand of political engagement, all are exposed here with page-turning potency. What Paul Waldman has done on presidential fraud and Al Franken on lying liars, Jan Linn has done on the radically politicized right wing of American Christianity. And not a moment too soon!

Review & Commentary

One thought on “What’s Wrong With the Christian Right

  1. Review

    Linn criticizes the Christian right for being self-righteous and judgmental, and for its lack of respect for religious diversity. Its goal, claims Linn, is not equal treatment in the public arena but dominance: they would like the government to be an instrument of Christianity. Their narrow-minded behavior is a major reason why the role of religion has lost support among the American people.

    Several individuals on the right are cited for their abusive assault on people’s character. Ann Coulter calls liberals “terrorists” who “hate democracy.” Jerry Falwell stated he didn’t see how any Democrat could be a Christian. Irving Kristol, father of William Kristol, urged conservatives to “attack the integrity, not the words, of those with whom you disagree. Grover Norquist said that civility is out and nastiness is in among conservative activists.

    The extreme nationalism on the right borders on idolatry, claims Linn. In their thinking, loyalty to country is loyalty to God. Their justification of American policies shaped by self-interest is more American than Christian. God blesses all nations, and we should reject the argument that God blesses America especially. Linn quotes Jim Wallis who said that the Kingdom of God doesn’t endorse the principalities and powers of nation-states, armies, and empires, but questions them.

    Linn goes into several specific political topics, pointing out that the Christian right has little to say about corporate greed or the scandals of some major corporations, the disgrace of widespread poverty in the country, environmentalism, lack of health care, and militarism. While there is room for disagreement on some of these issues, his point that the right is highly selective of issues it discusses is well made.

    Liberal Christians are as committed to high moral standards as those on the right. In fact, the future belongs to liberal Christianity. The separation of church and state will stand. We need to lose our judgmental views and work towards peace and reconciliation.

    My one criticism of this book is that the price seems quite high for a thin paperback. Its message, though, is one that needs to be heard.

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