God’s Unchanging Hand
With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush’s White House is an attempt by Esther Kaplan, left-wing journalist and community activist, to reconstruct Bush's relationship - a cross between hyper-networking and mutual admiration - with the Christian right, which she calls his favorite constituency. When speaking to them, Bush's charisma, and his air of Divine entitlement, is in full effect; he is with “a crowd who speaks his language.” It is like Bush has “home-court advantage” at a gathering of 5,000 religious broadcasters: “I see Evans. I see Gramm. It’s good to see friendly faces.” These evangelical Christians understand the values he represents. Bush was “born again” while walking on the beach with Jerry Falwell. He claims he was called to the presidency by God and that his decisions come from God, although Kaplan views such claims as a cynical power play, a stratagem to win the Christian vote.
Kaplan’s research concretizes the most unprecedented political strategies of our as-yet-unreelected President during his whirlwind first term, including signing a partial-birth abortion ban (“Can I get a A-mehen!”), stopping stem cell research in its infancy by silencing scientists with evangelicals, and “softening the line between church and state to the point of illegibility.” The book also describes a fascinating network that connects thousands of Christian evangelical organization leaders through a beautiful web of friendship to the guy in the Oval Office. Kaplan introduces a cast of Christian Right characters to show the prodigious (some would say outrageous) amount of influence held by this base constituency, the force Bush and Karl Rove have united in this country under God.
Bush’s base includes people like Jerry Falwell, who can rally tremendous political support with such statements as, “We must never allow our children to forget that this is a Christian nation. We must take back what is rightfully ours.” Unsurprisingly, Kaplan is disturbed by the preponderance of people with this view in power, and for those of us who are not evangelicals it is somewhat disconcerting to read about their increased influence. But whatever their belief systems, the Christian Right's is anything but a secret agenda, and their patriotism, however disturbing or disagreeable its content may be, is genuine.
The book describes a fascinating network that connects thousands of Christian evangelical organization leaders through an intricate web of friendship to the guy in the Oval Office. Kaplan introduces a cast of Christian Right characters to argue that the amount of influence held by the base constituency is disgraceful. Kaplan’s presentation is one-sided, for she sees this stacking as unprecedented, yet she does not mention what happens under other administrations. Certainly under Clinton, urban and minority social programs and Planned Parenthood were favored, and these were all part of Clinton’s constituency. Everyone brings their base close.
Shakey: An Essay on Anger
Giving Thanks to Elijah the Prophet in Indian Manhattan
The Pursuit of Justice
God's Unchanging Hand
Our 610 Back Pages
Neurotic Visionaries & Paranoid Jews
April 7, 2005
Zeek in Print
Fall/Winter 2004 issue now on sale
From previous issues:
Sex and the Golem
War and Not-War