Help Me Write This Book, Please
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jun 15, 2006 at 05:30:21 PM EST
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I have good news.

It is personal good news, but I think, depending on your point of view, it is also good news for all of us.

I have an opportunity to do something I have wanted to do for  long time. It is a writing project that I can't do alone.

To find out about this gig -- and what you can do to help make it happen -- read on.

As many of you know, I have been researching and writing about the religious right for about twenty five years. I have done this wearing a variety of hats, including those of investigative journalist, editor, book author and most recently as a blogger. And my expertise has been cited by many national media outlets and I have made my share of TV and radio appearances to talk about it.  In 1997 I published a well-received book, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. But my small publisher has struggled over the years, and we have never been able to put out a second edition. Suddenly, that has changed. I now have the opportunity to do a revised and updated, Ten Year Anniversary Edition. Much has happened in a decade, and I am chomping at the bit to update it!  But to make it happen -- I have to act fast, and drop just about everything.  That's where you come in.

The new edition would include a lot of new material some of which would certainly be drawn from writing you might have seen right here -- including (but certainly not limited to) updates on dominionist electoral politics; antiabortion violence and the advances of antichoice politics and public policy;  the attacks on the mainline churches; advances of the empire of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church (owns The Washington Times) -- and an expanded chapter on mobilizing for democracy. In this chapter I identify what I call "the four key elements of the strategy of the Christian Right" and what I consider the five core elements of a counter strategy. As I read them now, I think these elements are still true -- and after then years of watching  the Christian Right attain far more power faster than anyone thought possible, I have some additional ideas as well.

As written, the book remains surprisingly current in describing trends that were harder for many of us to see ten years ago, but are far more evident now. I want to underscore that even if the GOP loses both houses of Congress in this election, the Christian Right is going to remain a powerful force in American politics and culture. Like any other movement, they will have their ups and downs, and ebbs and flows. But they have built some important organizations -- religious denominations; think tanks; universities and law schools, and more -- that did not exist a generation ago. There are quite a range of ideologies, methods, personalities and so on. And just as in any other broadly based movement, they are not without weaknesses and factions, in addition to their many strengths. These are things worth knowing.

I will post a few short excerpts from the book below -- but I want to get right to how you, or maybe people you know, can help me get this done on a quick turn around.

Here are a few ways you can help (further ideas welcome!):

1) -- Buy advance copies of the book direct from the author. I will ship you signed copies as soon as they are off the presses in the Fall. $25 inclusive. (by mail. Address below)

-- Buy a copy of the current edition direct from the author. (While they last!) They are still in shrink-wrap and in mint condition. $18 (soon to be $20).

-- Make a donation. Finding grant money for this work is difficult, particularly on short notice (I am working on it.) Every little bit helps. I am not a fundraiser.  Bigger chunks mean I can get to work sooner.

2) Research and editorial assistance. I need 1-2 editorial assistants. Candidates who are interested, and have blogging skills, may also be able to help with Talk to Action.

Candidates should have some basic knowledge of the field; excellent writing skills; access to Lexus Nexus and/or other major databases preferred. The only compensation I can offer at the moment -- is an inscribed copy of the final product; the opportunity to learn a lot of interesting stuff; the knowledge that you may be making a difference; and my hearty thanks.  I am also generous with credit-where-crediti is due and with letters of reference. This would be a part-time project for about 6 weeks. Nearby to Western Massachusetts is nice, but not necessary. Email me a letter expressing interest and a resume. (Looking ahead, anyone interested in the premarketing and tour scheduling aspects, please write to me. writertypes aaaat gmail dot com)

3) Speaking and book events. I am eager to hit the road, before and after the book comes out. I have done a great deal of public speaking over the years, and already have possible gigs in Washington, DC, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Ohio in the works. If you are part of, or know of groups that might want to have me speak, please write to me at this address: writertypes  aaat gmail dot com

Checks and correspondence may be mailed to:

Frederick Clarkson
351 Pleasant Street, #230
Northampton, MA 01060

Here are a few brief excerpts from Eternal Hostility:

Pensacola, Florida: a man shoves a shotgun in the window of the cab of a truck and blasts away, killing a doctor and an escort, and seriously wounding another escort.

Virginia Beach, Virginia: a law school graduates a man whose thesis argued that the murder of doctors who perform abortions is justifiable homicide.

Bowie, Maryland: a minister publishes a book advocating armed theocratic revolution---titled A Time to Kill.

The men in these vignettes, Paul Hill the shooter, Michael Hirsch, the lawyer, and Michael Bray, the minister are all public figures, if not all household names. The media often portray these people as lone actors, zealots, or extremists who justify violence against abortion providers. Hill is also described as a convicted murderer, and Bray as a convicted clinic bomber. However, there is much more to these men, their tactics, their worldview, and their political goals, than they would like people to know.

Rev. Matthew Trewhella made the news [in 1995] when Planned Parenthood Federation of America released video footage of Trewhella's speech... He advocated the formation of church-based militias, holding out the example of his own church, comprised primarily of Missonaries to the Pre-Born (MPB) members, and which held firearms classes for its members. He also told his church: "This Christmas I want you to do the most loving thing. I want you to buy each of your children an SKS rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition." He also cryptically declared that "plans of resistance are being made," apparently referring to resistance to the government.... According to Newsweek, an MPB member who lived in Trewhella's basement for five months in 1990 had apparently planned a "guerrilla campaign of clinic bombings and assassinations of doctors." Trewhella claimed no knowledge of these plans."

In Pat Robertson's book, political opposition is by definition anti-Christian.  In fact, in his [New York Times bestselling] book, The New World Order, Robertson describes former presidents Jimmy Carter (a devout Baptist) and George Bush (Episcopal) as unwitting agents of Satan because they support the United Nations: "Indeed, it may well be that... Jimmy Carter, and George Bush... are in reality unknowingly and unwittingly carrying out the mission and mouthing the phrases of a tightly knit cabal whose goal is nothing less than a new order for the human race under the domination of Lucifer and his followers."

Similarly, Robertson sees academics who disagree with him politically as dupes of Satan, although he is less polite about it than when he spoke of the former presidents of the United States. Robertson predicts that his opponents will pay.  "The silly so-called intellectuals of academia who are spouting their politically correct foolishness will find themselves considered first irrelevant and then expendable when the real power begins to operate."

From the persecution of Quakers, Jesuits and "witches" in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the 1600s through the bitter Presidential election campaign of 1800, and the advent of the Christian Right in the 1980s, an animating, underlying theme of the American experience has been the struggle between democratic and theocratic values. The descendants of the losing side, have not forgotten. Self proclaimed "orthodox" Christians have opposed democracy, pluralism, and religious freedom for hundreds of years. Having regrouped after losing most of the major battles since the ratification of the Constitution, they are attempting a comeback.

Historian John Wilson observes that the historic "tensions between temporal and spiritual life in America" were far from settled with the adoption of the First Amendment. The religious diversity of the U.S. today would astound the framers of the Constitution. Wilson believes this diversity exacerbates the issues of the proper relationship between church and state.

The orignal and defining text of Christian Reconstructionism is The Institutes of Biblical Law, published in 1973 by Rousas John Rushdoony---an 800 page explanation of the Ten Commandments, the Biblical "case law" that derives from them, and their application today. "The only true order," writes Rushdoony, "is founded on Biblical Law. All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical law-order represents an anti-Christian religion.... all law is a form of warfare."

Generally, Christian Reconstructionism seeks to replace democracy with a theocracy that would govern by imposing their version of "Biblical Law." As incredible as it seems...  democratic institutions such as labor unions, civil rights laws and public schools would be on the short list for elimination. Women would generally be relegated to hearth and home. Men deemed insufficiently Christian would be denied citizenship, perhaps executed. So severe is this theocracy that capital punishment would extend beyond such crimes as kidnapping, rape, and murder to include, among other things, blasphemy, heresy, adultery and homosexuality." ...
Most Christian Reconstructionists... argue that the U.S. is a "Christian nation," and that they are the champions and heirs of the "original intentions of the Founding Fathers." While the notion of a Christian Nation is not unique to the Reconstructionists, this dual justification for their views, one religious, the other somehow constitutional, is the result of a form of historical revisionism.... "Christian revisionism."

The struggle between democracy and theocracy, which seemed to have been settled when the U.S. Constitution was ratified, is far from over. As Christian Right theorist Gary North writes, "For the first time in over 300 years, a growing number of Christians are starting to view themselves as an army on the move.  This army will grow." Taking this metaphor a step farther, North declared that, "We are self-consciously firing the first shot."

When I speak at colleges, I usually, say something like: "You might as well get to know your opposition: they will be a part of your political lives -- for the rest of your lives."

Whatever our age, we all face the same situation it really is up to us to seize the initiative; learn from the past and try to make a better future.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Jun 15, 2006 at 11:25:59 PM EST

The first edition is great, I'm certain the revised edition will be even better. I've sent you an email regarding ways I am able to assist. The offer I made applies to Talk2Action as well.

Good luck and thank you!

by Vesica on Thu Jun 15, 2006 at 11:40:30 PM EST

I am sure I will be in touch when the dust settles a bit.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 16, 2006 at 01:06:44 AM EST

as you seek funds to pursue the update to this must-read book on understanding and responding to the religious right.

by jhutson on Fri Jun 16, 2006 at 06:04:16 PM EST
so far, not much money -- but a surprising number of editors -- and some other very helpful offers and ideas.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 16, 2006 at 08:16:41 PM EST

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