Monday, March 20, 2006


American Theocracy

Red State Rabble made a special trip to the bookstore Saturday to buy Kevin Phillips new book, American Theocracy, which is getting a lot of play just now. Unfortunately, it won't be on the shelves for about a week.

Phillips, once a political strategist for the Republican Party, is best known for his 1969 book The Emerging Republican Majority. In the years since, Phillips has remained an important voice in American political life while moving away from the Republican party.

Since we can't report on the book ourselves, we'll rely, for now, on a couple of reviews that appeared in the New York Times this weekend.

Here's Alan Brinkley:
On the far right is a still obscure but, Phillips says, rapidly growing group of "Christian Reconstructionists" who believe in a "Taliban-like" reversal of women's rights, who describe the separation of church and state as a "myth" and who call openly for a theocratic government shaped by Christian doctrine. A much larger group of Protestants, perhaps as many as a third of the population, claims to believe in the supposed biblical prophecies of an imminent "rapture" — the return of Jesus to the world and the elevation of believers to heaven.

Here's Michiko Kakutani:
Mr. Phillips adds that "the 30 to 40 percent of the electorate caught up in Scripture" has exerted a strong pull on the current White House and the Republican party, driving the country toward what he calls "a national Disenlightenment" in which science — "notably biotechnology, climate studies and straight-talking petroleum geology," which warns of dwindling oil reserves and the need to find oil substitutes — is questioned, even defied.

As Mr. Phillips sees it, "the Southernization of American governance and religion" is "abetting far-reaching ideological change and eroding the separation of powers between church and state," while moving the Republican party toward "a new incarnation as an ecumenical religious party, claiming loyalties from hard-shell Baptists and Mormons, as well as Eastern Rite Catholics and Hasidic Jews," who all define themselves against the common enemy of secular liberalism.


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