Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Jesus Machine by Dan Gilgoff

Gilgoff's book came out in 2007 so is not up to date but I wanted to read another account of the political influence of the religious right after having read Blumenthal's Republican Gomorrah (see my earlier review). Gilgoff comes off critical of James Dobson and his influence on the religious right and its interaction with politics, but it is mild compared to Blumenthal.
Gilgoff takes the reader through Dobson's rise in popularity and how it was used to sway politicians and their votes on legislation. He shows how religion became a central issue in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. He also reveals how the Democrats were correcting their image and, in fact, made some elective inroads in the 2006 election.
Gilgoff notes that Dobson's social agenda was narrow: same sex marriage, abortion, and the removal of religion from the public square. Dobson used his influence to keep Christians from being involved in "Creation Care" and has been noticeably absent when it comes to issues of human rights.
With Dobson leaving the scene, it is hard to imagine another person with as much influence and control over the Right's political agenda as Dobson had. Gilgoff does speculate that in Dobson's absence the Christian Right may find itself awakened to a more humanitarian agenda. What a thought.

St. Martin's Press, 282 pages.
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