Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 20 August 2015
Thank dog religion is on the way out is all I can say. Frightening.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 October 2011
As Umberto Eco writes in his introduction, within fundamentalism, "there can be no advancement of learning. Truth has already been spelt out once and for all ..."

The Bible, including the New Testament, gives aid to anti-Semitism. As Hedges notes, "Hatred of Jews and other non-Christians pervades the Gospel of John (3: 18-20). Jews, he wrote, are children of the devil, the father of lies (John 8: 39-44)."

Hedges notes the destruction of US manufacturing industry, whose jobs were 53 per cent of the economy in 1965 but just 9 per cent in 2004. These jobs used to pay $51K a year. Currently available jobs in leisure and hospitality pay $16K and in health care $33K.

The states that vote Republican and have large evangelical populations also have higher rates of murder, illegitimacy, teenage births and divorce. Hedges observes, "The movement allows marginalized people the pleasure of denouncing others, of condemning those they fear becoming."

Timothy LaHaye, author of the fundamentalist `Left behind' series, used to run training seminars for the extreme right-wing John Birch society.

The Christian Right proposes extreme right-wing policies - anti-Semitism and other conspiracy theories; calls for unregulated capitalism; attacks on science, on enlightenment and secular values, on welfare, public education and public housing; calls to destroy the environment, trade unions and a free press; and calls for wars on Palestinians, Syrians and Iranians.

Hedges started by quoting Karl Popper: "Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. ... We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant." As theologian Richard Fenn wrote, "Silent complicity with apocalyptic rhetoric soon becomes collusion with plans for religiously inspired genocide."

Wrongly, and irrelevantly in a book about fascism, Hedges asserts, not argues, that communism is like fascism, yet of course communists defend science, enlightenment and secular values, trade unions, a free press, the environment, welfare, public education and public housing and peace.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 November 2009
In this hard-hitting book, Chris Hedges attacks head-on the Christian Right and their ideology, dominionism, which calls for the church to take political and institutional power and install a theocracy in the US.
The movement has very wealthy backers for two main reasons, politically, the assault on democracy and economically, the promotion of unfettered capitalism.

Assault on democracy
The Christian Right calls for the destruction of an open and pluralist society with its civil-rights laws, trade unions and public schools teaching secular humanism.
Education and welfare should be handed over to the churches. `Tithes' should be paid by the population.
The movement is anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-liberal, anti-immigrants, anti-Hindu, anti-Muslim and for severe sexual repression.
Chris Hedges accuses one of its members as being the mastermind of vote counts manipulation in recent elections.

Unfettered capitalism (the gospel of prosperity)
Unfettered capitalism allows the exploitation of human workers by paying less than living wages, thereby generating billions of dollars of profits for the corporatocracy.

Political influence
The Christian Right controls a big part of the Republican Party. Its organizations received billions of dollars under the Bush II administrations.
It has representatives in the Supreme Court, in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
It can spread its message through its own TV channels, radio stations and newspapers.

Social influence
The Christian Right tries to create a political mass movement with people, who are, in fact, victims of this unfettered capitalism (see also, T. Frank: What's the Matter with Kansas.)
On the other hand, it is a money machine for its preachers (`Let me be very clear. I want your money. I deserve it.').

(Un)scientific influence
Its belief system and its handbook (the Bible) are the basis for understanding the world. Facts are treated as opinions (`Why condoms aren't safe').
It believes in and supports the anti-Darwinian gospel of creationism (Intelligent Design).

Chris Hedges's crystal clear book shows ominously the dangers of the Christian Right for democracy.
His book is a must read for all those who want to understand the world we live in.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 15 April 2008
All in all, this book will especially appeal to three groups of reader: atheists who are in agreement with Dawkins that religion is dangerous, especially when it cross pollinates with politics. Secondly, this will appeal to "liberal" Christians, and finally, to those who are researching the relationship between politics and religion. A useful companion to this book is "Sacred Causes" by Michael Burleigh, which also explores the similarities between religion and political cults.

Hedges argues that certain aspects of the Christian Right movement in America shares psychological and tactical characteristics with fascism. For example, he argues that the Christian right claim that society is morally decaying is an echo of the Nazi claims about "decadent" art forms. He particularly focuses on the cult of masculinity, which he say appeals to a modern generation of men, who find post-modern gender role confusion frustrating, and seek to assert tradition as a means of coping.

The book is not without its weaknesses. Firstly, Hedges uses a very small sample group, namely, small and medium sized churches he visits during his research, and then bases conclusions of national significance on what he hears. Also, his claims that all members of the Christian right are Himmlers in waiting is rather uncharitable, and Hedges' writing style at times betrays a paranoia he accuses his opponents of exhibiting. Nevertheless, I found this book a very interesting read, and as an evangelical Christian on the political "right", still found myself absorbed in many of his ideas, although I respectfully disagree with some of them.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 June 2011
The immediate lesson to be taken from this book is very valuable. It's a quote from US theologian Reinhold Niebuhr - religion is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people. The more you think about that, the more obvious and logical it becomes. It is clear that the Religious Wrong in the USA contains some Very Bad People indeed, usually camouflaged as angels of light.

But "fascists"? A word too far? Fascism (named for the fasces, the symbol of the authority of Roman magistrates) was an Italian movement, which was subsequently to inspire the Nazis in Germany, and the term later became loosely applied to any form of right-wing authoritarianism. "Loosely" being the operative word here; I've seen it applied to Barack Obama, which, to anyone who knows a bit about history, is hilarious.

However, given this loose meaning and the subject-matter of this book, it could be said to be appropriate, in that there are certainly people in the USA who would like to enforce a sort of right-wing authoritarianism in which the authority is a militant, intolerant US variety of Christianity, wrapped in the flag. The author sees the danger of the Religious Wrong seeking to make the USA a "Christian nation", by infiltrating all aspects of life, including political and military, taking it over and enforcing its particular creed. The most extreme elements of this creed would introduce as the law of the land the Mosaic Law at its most extreme - the death penalty for adultery, homosexuality, abortion and probably for boiling your goat in its mother's milk (no kidding :-) - see Ex. 23:19). Coming from Ireland, I am very conscious of the potentially explosive mixture of religion and politics - when one has both The Absolute Truth and the means of enforcing that Truth, one has a recipe for catastrophe.

However, although one must always be on guard against the rise of extremes, one should also not exaggerate. After all, all societies inevitably have weirdos at both political extremes. Germany, which gave the world Bach and Beethoven and Einstein and Schiller also gave the world Nazism and descended into the darkest pit in human history, but this was partially a result of unique historical circumstances, some (the crash of 1929), but not all (the shame of WW1), of which currently exist in the USA. So, while one should never say "never", one should not also extrapolate wildly. In a normally-functioning society, fanatical belief that brooks no doubt or rival eventually collides with reality and invariably comes off second-best. I find it hard to believe that, no matter what the Religious Wrong believes or wants, a nation so inherently robust, so polyglot, so dynamic, vibrant and creative as the USA could ever return to the Dark Ages. It seems to me that the author has the tendency to over-egg the pudding.

I found the often-strident tone somewhat off-putting, not to mention the constant insinuation that all conservative Christians are slightly bananas. I sometimes got the impression that the author doth protest too much. I note that he studied theology, that his father was a pastor and that at one point he intended to become one. Does he feel embarrassed by that now, and is he seeking redemption from his new audience by fiercely attacking his former beliefs?

However, the book does have one thing in common with the Religious Wrong. It is a call to arms - man your battle stations! lock and load! - against those who would enforce on the USA a conformity wrapped in a bogus Christianity and the American flag. However, it seems to me that this is exaggerated. The USA is currently undergoing a bout of nuttiness, born, it seems to me, of a sense of frustration of the USA reaching its limits, of its position as top dog under threat and of the effrontery of a black man in a White House. There have been such periods of nuttiness before (the McCarthy witch hunts), but the USA recovered. I believe the USA will again right (in the, er, right sense) itself - but one should indeed always be on one's guard against the loonies.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 September 2007
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 undimminished 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 areanas, 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 intollerance 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 preserve 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
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 March 2007
This book is incredible. Hedges eloquently constructs his arguments using the words of the preachers themselves, to draw a chilling comparison between the Christian Right and the fledgling fascist movements of 1920s and 1930s Europe.

Unlike many books about fundamentalist Christians, American Fascists is not an attack on religion itself, and doesn't seek to mock or condescend - indeed, the author lays out his own faith from the start. It is, however, a stark warning about the ongoing misuse of religion by powerful fundamentalists, and how we can ALL be taken in.

If you believe in God or if you are an atheist, read this book.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 September 2011
Does Chris Hedges ever examine his own beliefs as critically and thoroughly as he has demolished those of the so-called Christian Right in the USA? It seems from this book that he is afraid to take the final step into the great unknown of atheism, which a man of his intelligence and sense should be able to do. Join us! It's nice here!

He is as woolly as Rowan Williams or Prince Charles. For example, in the first chapter, "Faith", he clearly sets out the vast inconsistencies and repellent hatreds in the Bible which utterly undermine any claim to inerrancy (unless God forgot to employ an editor). But then he states that "We are saved, in the end, by faith - faith that life is not meaningless and random... acts of compassion... sustain the divine spark, which is love." Do those words have any meaning? If his faith is not in a supernatural entity, then why pretend to be a Christian at all? If it is in God, then why not say so?

Anyway, most of this is compelling stuff, full of the first-hand details which bring an immediacy to his accounts of the paranoia, arrogance and sheer lunacy which characterise the dominionists who seek to turn the U.S.A. into a theocracy like Iran. He vividly shows the closeness of these fundamentalists' beliefs and practices to those of earlier fascists by starting the book with Umberto Eco's list of fascists' typical features and then going on to let them hang themselves with their own words.

My lengthy personal experience of similar churches in the UK bears out the truth of his descriptions. And any time of the day we can look at the religious TV channels even here in the UK and see the lies, the fake promises of miracles, the appeals to the emotions which these already-rich evangelists use to enrich themselves even further.

The book includes an extensive bibliography and references to ensure accuracy.
33 Comments| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 29 March 2013
I am reading this book because I thought it might be useful for an essay I am writing about American Christian Fundamentalism. Well, first things first. I enjoyed reading this book immensely and found that it read very well; in short, I couldn't put it down.

I'm a Christian, a dyed-in-the-wool Christian who genuinely believes in God and tries to serve God on a daily and ongoing basis. Part of this 'walk' is treating other people, no matter who they are and whatever they believe (or don't believe for that matter), with genuine courtesy and respect. Also, although I am unemployed I try now and again to give a little to a number of charities that I think need my limited help. No, I am not perfect, nor am I a 'holy Joe' of any kind either, just an ordinary, basically Working class bloke who happens to be a Christian. It seems to me that often, but not always, Christianity, or the practise of Christianity, in America and sometimes even Britain gets a bad name, for one reason or another. In America, it seems that Right-wing conservative politics seems somehow to be aligned with Christianity, and in Britain Christianity seems to be far more about Middle class values and the 'Great and the Good' far more than it does about the majority of people who are just ordinary, ordinary in the broadest sense of the word at any rate. Do we feel that Christianity in some cases has been hijacked, and do people proclaim their belief just to look respectable? I do wonder sometimes.

What this book talks about is that some Christianity in America has indeed been hijacked by very Right-wing politically conservative people, who are often anti-union and who are for low-paid employment, whilst believing in unfettered capitalism that benefits the rich over the poor. I, like many people, struggle to see what Right-wing politics and totally unregulated capitalism has to do with Christianity, but for those who believe and practise this there appears to be no anomalies or contradictions at all, especially if it makes them rich! People like Pat Robertson believe in the 'Prosperity Gospel', basically that if you are a Christian you will get very wealthy; one of the ways this happens is by giving money you can't afford to organisations run by people like Pat Robertson and others like Paul and Jan Crouch, making them exceedingly rich with the faint promise you too will become rich like them! Much of what they say and preach you just couldn't make up, and it has been said that fact is often stranger than fiction. I suggest for more coverage on Pat Robertson and the Crouch family, you google them; prepare to be surprised! The downside of all this of course, and I am being more serious now, is that people can be suckered into a false Christianity, a sham that has no basis in reality, and end up becoming addicted to televangelism in the same way a junkie or alcoholic or gambler can become addicted. This is not Christianity folks.

I may add something here. God promises that He will look after us, but He doesn't necessarily promise that all His followers will be multi-millionaires or even billionaires. However, He promises to meet in every way our need, if not our greed. I pray every day that He meets my needs, and though I want to be earning my living as a writer someday, I am content to have my basic needs met. You don't need millions or billions to have a decent life. Perhaps someone needs to tell some of these televangelists that message hey?
22 Comments| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 September 2007
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
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse



Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)