Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE POWER WORSHIPPERS by Katherine Stewart


Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism

by Katherine Stewart

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-63557-343-5
Publisher: Bloomsbury

An exposé of the righteous hypocrisy driving Christian nationalism.

In the late 1970s, a self-appointed group of radical right-wing Christians decided to take on an impossible-sounding task that would, in their view, restore America’s moral foundation. They would form a political organization with the goal of taking over every element of government in the U.S.—first Congress, followed by the presidency, the federal courts, state legislatures, and local governments—and imbue them with their religious ideas. However, according to Stewart (The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children, 2012, etc.), the initial purpose of the Christian nationalists, as she calls them, had little to do with religion or morality. In the beginning, their efforts were focused on overcoming the Internal Revenue Service’s attempt to rescind the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University. To succeed, they knew they needed a hot-button issue they could ride to success; they settled on abortion even though Judaism teaches that life begins at birth, and Jesus never challenged that. Nevertheless, the plan worked so well that today, four decades later, Christian nationalism has become a frighteningly powerful voice in the Republican Party. It was instrumental in getting Donald Trump elected president, and now it has a committee that suggests candidates for the federal bench that Trump rubber-stamps and blindly sends out for confirmation. Currently, the Christian nationalists are moving rapidly in their plan to take over state legislatures, which they’re accomplishing through “Project Blitz.” Though its stated aim is to advance religious freedom, Stewart argues convincingly that the true goal is to inundate as many states as possible with so many right-wing bills that it will jam the state legislative processes. Many readers will consider the book advocacy journalism because the author didn’t seek out her targets’ comments, but the thoroughly researched facts as she lays them out are hard to argue with.

A one-sided but undeniably powerful examination of the Christian right’s political motives.