Holy Piggyback: The Religious Right steals an icon

I first heard of William Wilberforce, subject of the new abolitionist bio-pic, Amazing Grace, from a conservative Christian leader of sorts, the wife of conservative Democrat whom I was interviewing regarding her involvement with the Fellowship Foundation (an elite Christian organization, with ties to numerous politicians, that Jeff Sharlet has written about extensively), and the role that their sort of theology should play in national affairs.

In the course of explaining the difference between religion ("legalistic," "about ritual, rules and regulations") and the way they describe their own beliefs, "a relationship with a person, Jesus Christ," she began speaking about William Wilberforce, a man she described as having sparked a spiritual movement that swept the nation, as she and her group hoped to do.

Having heard this primer on Wilberforce, it was unsurprising to see how veteran Christian Right groups welcomed, and promptly...

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