I remember reading an interview with Sara Diamond years ago where she said “that people on the left and progressives need to pay attention to and take seriously the influence of the Christian Right in America.”Diamond spent years documenting the rising influence of the Christian Right in US politics during the mid 80′s through the mid 90′s with books like Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right and Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States. Esther Kaplan has done the same important work for the current Bush administration.
Kaplan covers a broad range of issues that the Christian Right has organized around, like AIDS, homosexuality, abortion, sex education, the courts and foreign policy. She provides details of how Christian groups have mobilized their constituents in order to influence legislators and the policies they make. Kaplan follows in the footsteps of Sara Diamond’s work by engaging in the same investigation which includes reading the literature of the Christian Right, attending their events and speaking with them in person. While many on the left may find the ideas of religious conservatives, Kaplan’s assessment reveals that we should not be so quick to dismiss them.
With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush’s White House is a text that compliments another good book written earlier in the year by PR Watch co-founders Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber entitled “Banana Republicans.” The latter book talks more about the funding and organizational elements of the GOP, where Kaplan’s book focuses specifically on the Christian Right, which she often calls the GOP’s base.
Kaplan’s book is important because it shows us how the current administration has appointed many religious conservatives to government positions at such a level that the Reagon administration could only have dreamed of. The book does spend time discussing George W Bush’s personal faith journey, much of which has been influenced by Billy Graham’s son, Franklin. However, the emphasis is primarily on how the current administration has been infiltrated by the Christian Right and it’s ideology. A proper emphasis, since the problem does not lie with the person of George W. Bush, rather with the administration as a whole.
To ignore this book and it’s analysis would be a mistake for those who want to challenge the policies of the current administration.
Esther Kaplan, With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush’s White House, (The New Press, 2004).