Orthodox Vision and the Christian Right
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 Herman (Law/Keele Univ., England) offers a thorough critique of the positions taken by American conservative Protestantism since the '50s on the issue of gay rights. Over the past 40 years, homosexuality's legal status in the US has passed from decriminalization to highly contentious demands for equality, such as spousal rights and other forms of social entitlement based on heterosexual partnership. Herman has long been a promoter of this development, and she now turns her attention to the thinking and aims of the Christian Right's opposing stance. In an area where name-calling is rife, she maintains a careful, scholarly approach and succeeds in bringing out some of the positive values and vision of her opponents. She defines the Christian Right as mainly white evangelical Protestants, whose Utopian brand of Christianity focuses on the Second Coming of Christ at the culmination of a fearful battle between the forces of good and evil. In this scenario, gay rights legislation, like international communism, takes on an apocalyptic significance and must be resisted by the Elect. Herman's work is well researched and draws heavily on the journal Christianity Today as a contemporary chronicle of Christian Right attitudes. She is good at teasing out well-known tensions, e.g., between the views of government as having a minimal role and as the theocratic enforcer of morals. But Herman also shows that Christian Right thinking has varied over the decades, and she outlines tensions within the Christian Right about how to define homosexuality (lifestyle choice or immutable trait) and the implications of that for the antigay rights battle. A special chapter is devoted to the unsuccessful 199192 Colorado battle against gay-rights legislation. Deserves to be read by both sides in this passionate controversy.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-226-32764-7
Page count: 237pp
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1997