Eternal Hostility: Examining the Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy
Will the United States abandon democracy and become a "Christian" nation where only those people with the "right" religious viewpoint are first-class citizens? To most Americans that question might seem far-fetched. Yet it should not be. In his new book, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy (Common Courage Press, 277 pp., $15.95) veteran journalist Frederick Clarkson makes a compelling case that the "theocratic right" is steadily gaining political power in America and poses a real threat to the constitutional freedoms of all of us. "The agenda of the Christian Right," warns Clarkson, "is more astounding and dangerous to democracy than most of us are prepared to believe....Behind the media's portrayal of 'fringe elements,' a vital but little discussed struggle is unfolding centered on the issue of whether the United States should be a democracy or a theocracy governed by 'Biblical law.'" Clarkson insists that Americans must educate themselves about the Religious Right and its extreme agenda or risk dire consequences. "The winners in history have tended to be those that capture the flag of nationalism and the robe of religious justification and authority," observes the author. "The Christian Right is dramatically striving for both under the banner of the 'Christian nation.' Its leaders have cleverly reinterpreted American history and constitutional law to accommodate their contemporary religious and political goals and to animate their movement. Those who would defend and advance democratic values must understand what the Christian Right is about." Clarkson's book helps us do just that. Thoroughly documented, richly detailed and eminently readable, this single volume gives a near comprehensive overview of American theocratic politics. It names the groups and leaders that make up the Religious Right. It also documents the tactics they have used-- often underhanded and distinctly un-Christian--to infiltrate and influence the nation's political, religious and academic institutions. Clarkson has written numerous articles about TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition and allied groups. This new book expands on that material but extends far beyond the Robertson empire. Chapters focus on such disparate parts of the theocratic movement as Christian Reconstructionism, Promise Keepers and the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. In many cases, surprising links between seemingly unrelated organizations are detailed. Clarkson examines the Religious Right's reckless tendency to literally demonize its opponents and shows how this repugnant practice can rend society and lead to violence--perhaps even religiously based civil conflict. The author sharply criticizes this campaign by Religious Right leaders to persuade their followers that abortion rights supporters, members of non-Christian religions, homosexuals and a broad array of other "sinners" are active agents of Satan. For example, Christian Reconstructionist guru R.J. Rushdoony concludes that "communists and conservatives, anarchists and socialists, fascists and republicans" are all in principle demonic because they are part of the "humanist spectrum." Observes Clarkson, "If opponents are demons, then shooting people working in abortion clinics--or gays and lesbians--is not a matter of killing people, but ridding the world of evil. Moreover, it is likely that the trend towards seeing people as demons, not just different, fosters the growing view among the Christian Right that religious warfare is on the horizon, if not already underway." Clarkson insists that Americans should neither overestimate nor underestimate the power of the Religious Right. While the movement is ominous, it represents only a minority of Americans. However, because most Americans don't vote, let alone participate in politics in other ways, the Religious Right has won disproportionate influence. In his final chapter, Clarkson outlines a plan of action to respond to the theocrats. Supporters of liberty, he says, must reclaim American history, register and mobilize voters, carefully research the theocratic right, identify and expose the movement's contradictions and weaknesses and practice democratic values. To get people started Clarkson recommends books about the theocratic right and lists organizations that monitor and organize against it. Eternal Hostility is essential reading for every American who cares about freedom. No book on the market offers a better description of the Religious Right and why that movement must be contained.