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PIETY AND POLITICS by Barry W. Lynn Kirkus Star

PIETY AND POLITICS

The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom

By Barry W. Lynn

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 2006
ISBN: 0-307-34654-4
Publisher: Harmony

An advocate for religious freedom accuses the religious right of trying to set up a United States theocracy.

Lynn, a minister in the United Church of Christ and syndicated radio host, accuses Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and their colleagues of attempting to establish their brand of Christianity as the de facto state religion. Their open rejection of the separation of church and state, he argues, is part of a conscious strategy to build their own power. The right wing's claim that government is stacked against religion is belied by the effective veto conservatives hold over judicial nominees or legislation that runs counter to their doctrines on such subjects as gay marriage or abortion. Point by point, Lynn skewers the right's stand on religion in schools, open display of religious symbols on government property, “faith-based initiatives” and sexual conduct. In each case, he argues, the right seeks not to advance the welfare of religion but its own narrow sectarian doctrines. A classic example is the much ballyhooed “war on Christmas,” in which the right claims merchants and media are suppressing the celebration of Jesus' birth—at the same time asserting its own claim to exclusive recognition of the Christian holiday as the reason for year-end retail sales. The author calmly demonstrates the twisted logic and outright hypocrisy of the right—almost too calmly. While his opponents in the “culture war” relentlessly fan the passions of their followers, offering the faithful a self-image of persecution and martyrdom, Lynn maintains a reasonable demeanor, largely foregoing cheap shots and one-liners. He remains convinced that most Americans want a government that backs no religion and suppresses no religion—as mandated by the Constitution. Those who share his concerns can only hope that his optimism is justified.

Essential reading.