THE BAPTIZING OF AMERICA by Anita Brookner

THE BAPTIZING OF AMERICA

The Religious Right’s Plan for the Rest of Us

KIRKUS REVIEW

A less-than-convincing warning that the Christian right is trying to set up a theocracy in the United States.

Rudin, a retired U.S. Air Force chaplain, takes a hyperbolic approach, referring to Christian conservatives as “Christocrats . . . willing to sacrifice historic American freedoms and rights for a greater good: God’s plan for the United States.” An early chapter takes his home state of Virginia as a case study, describing two youthful encounters with religious bigotry, in 1942 and 1950, and a 1995 meeting with Reverend Pat Robertson as “events [that] defined for me in a personal way the goals of today’s Christocrats in America and the methods they employ to achieve them.” Rudin moves on to explain the differences among the various Protestant denominations; to explore the concept of evangelicalism within varying traditions; and to trace the Christian right’s move from political separation to political engagement in the 1980s. He also discusses the complex relationship evangelicals have had with the Jewish community. The book’s second half examines fundamentalists’ attempts to impose hard-line Christian beliefs on others within the context of varying “rooms”: the bedroom, the schoolroom, the courtroom, etc. Throughout these chapters, he provides examples of actions taken by the Christian right in the legal, legislative, educational and media arenas. Rudin has done a great deal of homework, but in the end he simply sounds like a member of one fringe group attacking another fringe group. The aggressive language he utilizes throughout—“the current American Civil War,” “Christocratic shock troops,” etc.—and his sky-is-falling tone make the author seem as unobjective, if not as unreasonable, as many of the evangelicals at whom he points a self-righteous finger.

Written for those who already share the author’s point of view, not for the larger number of Americans somewhere between his extremism and that of and the Christian right.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2006
ISBN: 1-56025-797-0
Page count: 336pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2005




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