Piety and Politics: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom by Rev. Barry Lynn

Reverend Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS) and United Church of Christ minister, has long been a leader in the fight to maintain Thomas Jefferson's 'wall of separation' between Church and State. Piety & Politics is Lynn's effort to describe the state of this fight (in 2006) as the Religious Right expands its attacks on the vital separation.

Lynn opens the book with a bit of history of the concept of freedom of religion with a focus on the United States. He firmly establishes that, despite his own belief in a Christian worldview, he is utterly opposed to religious intrusion into public education. Being personally involved in numerous lawsuits (as the director of AUSCS), Lynn has a fascinating perspective of the fight, including that over Ten Commandments displays on public property.

The George W. Bush creation of faith-based initiatives is attacked head on, and hypocrites such as Pat Robertson and the deceased Jerry Falwell are exposed on the issue. Lynn then goes into the Religious Right's war on sex and sex education, and uses the issue to show how divisive and descructive abstinence-only and poor sex education have created worse problems. Finally, censorship is discussed, and Lynn makes it clear that information must be freely available even when many, if not most, people in the affected area disagree with the ideas (Lynn himself argues that books by Falwell, Robertson, and others should be stocked in libraries even though he personally does not agree with many of their views).

Theocracy is a dangerous political system, one which the Christian minister Lynn has no desire to see become reality in this nation. It is clear, though, from Lynn's experience, that Religious Right leaders are focused on bringing theocratic policies and organizations to power in this country, and it is only through exposing and directly challenging these movements can the nation's commitment to freedom of religion be maintained. Highly recommended to anyone interested in how the modern Religious Right strategies are affecting everything from education to politics. Four stars.

(posted on my blog: davenichols.net)

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This is the heart of the issue that has activated Atheist and non-believers around the globe; thanks to religions like the Islam, we're able to see what might happen if any of the reins of power are handed over to leaders of faith-based ideologies. We can look at the history of the Christian church and see that it's consistently the case that theocracies always buckle under the weight of their own self-interest and eventually cannot resist the inclination to abuse their "earthly power".

Next month (after Ramadan) the world will be a witness as one of the most religious countries in the world, Malaysia, demonstrates what religious law made into civil law looks like; a Muslim woman arrested for drinking a beer in a hotel bar will be publicly caned for her shameless indiscretion. This is what will happen in any theocracy and this is what we fight against. It's good to hear there is at least one Christian alert and honest enough to take action.

Thanks for the review, I look forward to reading it.
This is definitely going on my to-read list, I look forward to a fascinating (if nausea-inducing) look into the battle to preserve the separation of church and state.


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