Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right

It's no secret that the thought of gay marriage scares many Christian conservatives, but is there a deeper agenda -- and a danger to all of America -- in attacks on the gay community? The answer to both of these questions is "Yes" according to Mel White, whose book RELIGION GONE BAD: THE HIDDEN DANGERS OF THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT explores the background, methods, and goals used by evangelical fundamentalists.

Mel White is uniquely authorized to write this book. He was and is religious, he acted as ghostwriter for books by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and he has collected a truly massive collection of quotes, mailings, and videos of speakers attacking the gay comminuty.

White's book is divided into four sections. The first section, "My Friends, The Enemy" describes the most prominent members, past and present, in the evangelican fundamentalist movement. This section covers not just people like Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson (who was very active before his reaction to Janet Jackson's bared nipple) but a historical context for the current belief system of the evangelical fundamentalist. White covers the concepts of Biblican inerrancy (the Bible is the inspired word of God, literally perfect, and to be obeyed without question), the movement to purge moderates from the Southern Baptist Convention, the rise of the religious media empires, and the efforts to fill as many positions of authority as possible with like-minded people.

The second section of this work concerns the techniques used by funadmentalists to wage and win their wars. This includes a "secret" meeting to plan out how to remove as many rights as possible from gays, ways to appear secular while advancing a religious agenda, and the spreading of misinformation. (For example, Michael Swift wrote "Homosexual Agenda," an essay lampooning the right's stereotypes about gays. Many on the religious right ignore the opening that says the essay is "an outre, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage" and quote from it as what homosexuals really want.)

"The Great Fundamentalist Heresies" explored how funamentalist evangelicals interpret and narrow the Bible to enforce their beliefs with no mercy or felxibility. And the final section, "Resisting Fundamentalism," discusses techniques used by Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi resisted their oppression, while stressing that the way to defeat homophibia is with love.

Mel White makes several extreme arguments -- from parallels between evangelical fundamentalist portrayals of gays to Hitler's portrayals of Jews, to the notion that the ultimate goal of fundameltalists is to turn America from a democracy to a theocracy where homosexuals, adulterers, and unruly children will be killed -- and, frighteningly, backs up these arguments with a mountain of evidence. Rather than simply attacking the opposition, White supports religion, praises those who he respects (notably Billy Graham), and ends with both practical and philosophical calls to remain Christian. RELIGION GONE BAD is a terrifying, believable, and ultimately important work of nonfiction. It should be required reading for anyone who sees nothing more menacing in fundamentalists than people trying to get people to church. The status of the gay community, and the state of democracy in America, are at risk.

Overall Grade: A

No comments: