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the Body Politic
Vol. 7, No. 3 - March 1997, Page 23
Copyright © 1996, 1997 by the Body Politic Inc.
Book Reviews Reviewed by Dallas A. Blanchard

Eternal Hostility
The Struggle between Theocracy and Democracy
By Frederick Clarkson.
Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine: 1997. 277 pp. Paper. $15.95.

In Eternal Hostility, Clarkson gives us one of those "I-wish-I-had-written-that" books, a fairly comprehensive primer on the so-called Religious Right. While there are a number of books giving greater detail on specific aspects of the Religious Right, its history, various organizations and leaders, tactics, strategies, and successes and failures, Clarkson brings these together, with the addition of his insightful original material, in a very readable and convincing book.

He limns for us the interrelationships of numerous persons and organizations: the Christian Coalition, the Moral Majority, the Republican Party, American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, Focus on the Family, Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion organizations, the Unification Church, Human Life International, Christian Reconstructionism, militias, neo-Nazis and other racist and anti-Semitic groups, and Promise Keepers.

He also sketches their social and theological rationales, as well as their stealth political tactics toward achieving local, regional, and national power.

As a sociologist, I particularly relish his succinct, devastating, and thorough critique of James Davidson Hunter's Culture Wars whitewash of the Right and the all too real extensive violence against abortion providers and gays and lesbians. (As I write this, investigators are seeking links and drawing parallels between the clinic and gay bar bombings in Atlanta.)

I also welcome his equally healthy irreverence for the mystique hovering around Stephen Carter's The Culture of Disbelief. Clarkson's well-honed mind exposes both men's contradictions and fallacies.

While there are minor errors, such as giving Paul Hill credit for being the first public proponent of vigilantism when David Trosch's public actions inspired Hill to come out of the closet, and I wished for an examination of the historical roots of the Christian Right (through the anti-communist crusade of the 1950s, to nativism of the 1850s, to Massachusetts Bay Colony and innumerable others between), this is a well researched, well documented overview which should be read by and kept at hand by anyone concerned for women's rights, gay/lesbian rights, basic human rights, equality, freedom of religion, or democracy.

Dallas A. Blanchard
The University of West Florida
Pensacola, FL 32514


Professor Blanchard, a leading researcher of the pro-choice community and former minister, is the author of Religious Violence and Abortion: the Gideon Project and The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Rise of the Religious Right.

Eternal Hostility is available from Net News.


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