American Theocracy

Kevin Phillip’s American Theocracy is a
must-read for those who wonder how we got into the mess we’re in and whether we
might extricate ourselves from it.

In the twenty-first century the religious right is in power and they are taking us toward a period of disenlightenment that may lead to the end of the U.S. as a leader in science, innovation and production of new goods among many other negative consequences of the closing of the American mind. This is the contention of Kevin Phillips, the prolific populist analyst and author in his newest book, American Theocracy .

Phillips says dependence on oil for energy, the marriage of religious fundamentalism with right-wing politics and the wholesale shift of industrial production off-shore with the parallel shift toward an economy based on debt and credit in financial services and public life, puts the U.S. at risk of serious decline if not outright crisis.

He offers cogent historical context for each of these three consequences in a book that should be must-reading for anyone who wants to understand how we got into the mess we?re in today and who wants to try and get out of it.

Whether we can extricate U.S. policy from the grips of right-wing fundamentalism and the economy from the grip of financial services conglomerates is a daunting question but one that needs to be seriously engaged if we?re to recapture an open society committed to justice for all.

Phillips looks at the histories of past world powers and their evolution into mature societies that eventually gave way to the challenges of newcomers on the world stage and concludes that the U.S. is maturing and facing the challenges that humbled great powers in the past.

Phillips offers sharp, informed critique of the Bush Administration and the religious community to whom he is loyal. Phillips sounds an alarm that should be a rallying cry for moderates in the Republican Party and for moderates in general to take back the center and resist the biblical literalism, moral exclusion and end-times prophecies that are leading to an American theocracy.

Phillips, by implication, indicts the mainline religious leaders who have ignored the concerns that undermine the quality of everyday life for millions of workers and ordinary citizens, effectively leaving them to the aggressive marketing of the religious right. I take Phillips indictment much further than he does, and I?ll write about this in the next few posts.

Phillips writes that because mainline Christians did not pay serious attention to the Cyrus Scofield-Hal Lindsey-Tim LaHaye viewpoint during the 70?s and 80?s when the Christian right was resurging, there was no contradictory theological foundation laid for the populace to gain a moderate religious view of the world. (p. 254)

Now we?re paying the piper. Reading Phillips is to be energized and motivated. I recommend it.

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