Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right is Hijacking Mainstream Religion


A how-to manual for progressive Christians who want to reclaim the church from intolerant, extremist factions. An important book.”—Julia Scheeres, author of Jesus Land: A Memoir

An unprecedented look inside the battle for religion in America, Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right is Hijacking Mainstream Religion exposes how a strident theocratic minority is attacking—or “steeplejacking”—mainstream churches in order to eliminate progressive voices and take control of America’s historic mainline denominations.

An insider account by two ministers on the front lines of mainstream religion’s longtime shadow war against the religious right, Steeplejacking reveals how conservative renewal groups, backed by a right-wing organization called the Institute on Religion and Democracy, use social wedge issues like homosexuality to infiltrate mainline churches and stir up dissent among members of the congregation, with the goal of taking over the leadership of the church, and ultimately, the denomination. The book unmasks the covert methods that renewal groups and the IRD use to spread their propaganda, as well as showing how the pastor and other church leaders can act as either provocateurs or protectors in the face of an attack. Churches that have been “steeplejacked” are also examined to illustrate why some are able to withstand an attack, while others succumb.



Featuring a foreword by Michelle Goldberg, author of the bestselling Kingdom Coming, and an introduction by Frederick ClarksonSteeplejacking shows how mainstream religion can fight back against the insidious tactics of the Christian right.

An ordained minister for over thirty years, Sheldon Culver serves on the conference staff of the Missouri Mid-South Conference of the United Church of Christ.


Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer was granted a Doctoral Degree in White Privilege Studies in 2007 from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH. He also has degrees in Theology and Philosophy. He is the author of two published books, Beyond Resistance: the Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World and Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right Hijacked Mainstream Religion. He is a recipient of Eden Seminary’s “Shalom  Award,” given by  the student body for a lifetime of committed work for peace and justice. John was ordained as a Christian minister in 1988. He currently  serves as the 9th General Minister  of the United Church of Christ, one of the USA’s most progressive faiths, whose vision is “A Just World for All.” He is a frequent speaker on  the subject of white privilege, and is especially committed to engaging white audiences to come to deeper understandings of the privilege. He is  particularly interested  in how whites manifest privilege every day and how it impacts people of color, two things whites remain largely either ignorant of or in denial about. He has been devoted to his bride Mimi  for over 36 years, and they have parented three children – a composer/musician, an author/painter, and a poet.  John and Mimi have two grandchildren they dote on constantly.

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