From his opening onslaught to his closing blast, Bishop Jesep attacks intolerant American Christians, particularly conservative Evangelicals.
Jesep, the United States public affairs director for the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, uses wit and information gleaned from newspapers in this polemic. He may confuse a few American readers when he refers to Eastern religious concepts, but he also comments on many Western practices and ideas. Jesep applauds the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in dividing church and state, a separation he feels is in jeopardy. The bishop quotes Jefferson: â€œJesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the Son of God,” and the famous president also lopped off the resurrection in a rewrite of the New Testament. The author writes that John Jay, although a religious man, opposed a motion to open the first Continental Congress with a prayer. He also points out the irony that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism did not prevent him from being elected governor in liberal, Catholic Massachusetts, but that â€œhe faced persecution and discrimination because of his faith” as he campaigned for president in more conservative states. No form of intolerance escapes Jesep’s blasts. He quotes speeches and cites discrimination against gays, the homeless and incarcerated. The faith of presidents and their associates also incurs critiques. Jimmy Carter, an evangelical, comes off well, and Bush is praised for his tolerant attitude, but there are no good words for Pastor John Hagee, the evangelical founder of the Cornerstone Church who has raised ire within the Catholic community. Jesep’s book is infused with a passionate belief in tolerance toward all and concerns that religion, which is not the same as God, is dividing Americans. After reading these essays, citing idea after idea bolstered by solid examples, it is just as easy to imagine Jesep discussing these topics around a dining table as well as preaching from the pulpit.
Strong, well-supported arguments about what religion is–and what it should be.