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4.0 out of 5 stars A passionate appeal for freedom in America, 11 Sept. 2007
This review is from: American Fascists: the Christian Right and the War on America (Hardcover)
We might assume that the right-wing Christian nationalist dream is waning in America, but Chris Hedges does not. Touring around the country he finds an undiminished movement for a full-blown theocratic state. As he quotes James Kennedy,

"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As vice-regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society." (p. 58)

Hedges travels widely to hear great speakers, attend seminars and visit with radical fundamentalists. He offers some understanding, or perhaps pity, towards these people's needs for order, direction, certitude and righteousness in a chaotic society. But his sympathy is limited by a conviction that these people are pushing his country towards totalitarian fascism. He notes that the Dominionist agenda calls for a restoration of harsh ancient laws from before the time of Jesus or of modern Judaism: the death penalty for adultery, homosexuality, blasphemy, incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and, in the case of women, unchastity before marriage. Beyond this, Hedges sees a regressive agenda to make Christianity more supportive of powerful economic interests:

"... When it is faith alone that will determine your wellbeing, when faith alone cures illness, overcomes emotional distress, and ensures financial and physical security, there is no need for outside, secular institutions, for social service and regulatory agencies to exist. ... To put trust in secular institutions is to lack faith, to give up on God's magic and miracles. The message being preached is one that dovetails with the message of neoconservatives who want to gut and destroy federal programs, free themselves from government regulations and taxes and break the back of all organizations, such a labor unions, that seek to impede maximum profit." (p. 179)

Naturally, in attacking the intolerance of particular people Hedges seems to accuse all serious Christians of harboring fascist tendencies. But while sometimes scattering his shots widely, he usually tries to distinguish among different kinds of Christians, and he affirms those who respect religious freedom:

"While traditional fundamentalism shares many of the darker traits of the new movement -- such as blind obedience to a male hierarchy that often claims to speak for God, intolerance towards non-believers, and disdain for rational, intellectual inquiry -- it has never attempted to impose its' belief system on the rest of the nation. And it has not tried to transform government, as well as all other secular institutions, into and extension of the church." (p.13)

Most interestingly, Hedges seems to dismiss liberal Christians as ineffectual in the fight to preseve freedom. He looks instead to Christians of a more traditional nature, such as evangelicals the likes of Billy Graham, who value compassion, mercy, and personal faith over self-righteous intolerance:

"The most potent opposition to the movement may come from within the evangelical tradition. The radical fundamentalist movement must fear these Christians, who have remained loyal to the core values of the Gospel, who delineate between right and wrong, who are willing to be vilified and attacked in the name of a higher good and who have the courage to fight back. Most liberals, the movement has figured out, will stand complacently to be sheared like sheep, attempting to open dialogue and reaching out to those who spit venom in their faces." (p.34-35)

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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