Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Book Sure to Cause a Stir

Once more I find a book I wish I was smart enough to have written. Of course when it is released I will probably be glad that that I have not written it once the cacophony of hisses, curses and screams arise from the bowels of the Religious Right to repudiate the author's credentials, his faith, and probably his sexuality, attacking him from every angle so they do not have to have to truthfully defend their history or positions (I cannot wait to hear Dobson, Falwell or their minions at Talk Radio talk about this book- pray for the author).

Randall Balmer, an editor at Christianity Today and professor at Columbia University (see he is a northeastern liberal who even lives in Connecticut) gives us the real history of the Religious Right, which is seeped in anti-government sentiment and defense of Bob Jones University's pro-segregationist policies. He has attended meeting with the leaders and interviewed them, finding out that became pro-life after much later than Roe V. Wade in an effort to put an altruistic face upon insidious aims. Their claims are to be the spiritual heirs to the abolitionists and civil rights freedom fighters, but their history shows them on the wrong side of such movements (you will be surprised by his quote of W.A. Criswell on abortion).

Balmer is sure to have his Evangelical credentials revoked and he speaks to this in his essay, Jesus is not a Republican for the Chronicle of Higher Education (it is about a sermon given at Wheaton College). This is a very brave book and will hopefully help many of the Religious Right's foot soldiers see the little old men on bicycles leading their movement from behind the veil.

NPR excerpts the book here with an audio interview.

Read the Publisher's Weekly review here. This review points out the best chapter in the book which will show how the new leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have "betrayed its long legacy of separation of church and state." As a Baptist, no longer considered Southern because of this issue (along with others which have equally corrupted our historic principles), I look forward to his analysis of this important but ignored piece of history.

So we understand this is not some outsider slamming the church, but an insider lamenting the loss of Jesus' message by the svengalis controlling Evangelicalism I give you these quotes;

Describing the aim of the book, he says this, "What I want this book to do is call evangelicals to their birthright as people of the book."

He also says this, "They have taken something that is lovely and redemptive and turned it into something that is ugly and retributive."

Buy me the book before it comes out and tell your friends about it.

Something interesting Balmer says in his essay is this,
"And what about abortion, the issue that the religious right decided in the early 1980s was its signature concern? Since January 2003, the Republican and religious-right coalition has controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress — yet, curiously, it has not tried to outlaw abortion. Why? Could it be that its members are less interested in actually reducing the incidence of abortion itself (in which case they should seek to alter public opinion on the matter) than in continuing to use abortion as a potent political weapon?"


Clemens said...

I think you mean Bob Jone pro-segregationist policies.

But you are fighting the good fight. More power to you and Balmer.

BTW, I used to live down by the Bayshore, and my family is still down at the southern end of Dale Mabry.

Bob Robinson said...

Thanks for the heads-up on this book and the related articles!

I look forward to reading!

Bob Robinson said...


Balmer nails it on the head when he points out the hypocricy of the RR when they frame their policies as reminiscent of abolitionists, when they came into existence because they wanted to keep Bob Jones U segregated.

Gutsy stuff.