IFAS | Freedom Writer | December 1995 | review1.html

'Roads to Dominion'

ROADS TO DOMINION: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States by Sara Diamond. 445 pp. Guilford Press (1995).

By Skipp Porteous

Sara Diamond's much awaited new book, Roads to Dominion: Right Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States, is finally out. Diamond's first book, Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right, inspired activists across the land to take a stand against the political agenda of the Radical Religious Right. (Spiritual Warfare continues to be one of our bestsellers in the Freedom Writer's "Books by Mail.")

Road to Dominion offers a sweeping chronology of the rise of right-wing groups in America. Diamond carefully dissects the subtle differences and nuances between the political right, the racist right, and the Religious Right and explains why, when, and where they interconnect. Roads to Dominion will quickly bring the newly initiated anti-Religious Right activist up to speed. However, while offering a wealth of information on the rise of the Radical Right over the last 50 years, Roads to Dominion has its shortcomings.

Diamond dispenses with the important question of who funds the Religious Right in two sentences. "The archetypical right-wing funding conduit was the Coors beer company. Chief executive Joseph Coors poured millions of dollars into dozens of evangelical and New Right organizations and established a pattern for other corporate funders: the Scaife, Smith Richardson, Olin, and Noble foundations; the Kraft, Nabisco, and Amway corporations, to name just a few."

Those who read Diamond's Spiritual Warfare will immediately notice the lack of vitality, zest, and spirited discourse in her latest tome. Since receiving her doctorate in sociology, Diamond has seemingly crossed the threshold from activist writer to dry scholarship. It's been reported that Roads to Dominion is an expanded version of Diamond's doctoral dissertation. Roads to Dominion offers no new revelations or insights. In fact, everything in the book is admittedly taken from previously published sources. However, considering the wealth of data in this book, this is no small feat.

More importantly, Diamond misses the opportunity to introduce her readers to the powerful Council for National Policy (CNP). She relegates this group to a footnote in the back of the book. It's not that she thinks the group isn't important, for in the footnote she refers to the CNP as "the New Right's leading coordinating body for funding and strategy." More than any other organization today, the CNP represents the movers and shakers of America's political and Religious Right. Much of the ultra-right-leaning political activism today comes out of the CNP.

Diamond mistakenly gives the Christian Coalition credit for the Christian Right's successes in San Diego county in 1990. In actuality, then only a year old, the Christian Coalition had not yet organized in San Diego county.

Few, if any, pithy quotes from Religious Right leaders or activists can be found in this book. Some unreported, or little-known quotes, would have given the book some life.

In her text, Diamond carefully avoids mentioning by name any liberal organizations. This may have been done to avoid discrediting her book by using information obtained from these groups, or, perhaps, as a way not to offend any group by omitting them. In any case, it seems strange not to mention groups like People for the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Institute for First Amendment Studies. References to these groups do show up, however, in a careful review of the notes at the end of the book.

Although claiming to approach her subject objectively, Diamond's personal biases show through, especially in her attack on the Anti-Defamation League. In relationship to a harangue about the ADL, Diamond asserts that there is nothing "radical" about the Christian Coalition.

Diamond provides an excellent bibliography and a fairly thorough index. These are most helpful to the serious researcher.

Unfortunately, Roads to Dominion will neither arouse nor disturb anyone. But, if the Radical Religious Right is ultimately successful, future students can read Roads to Dominion to learn how it was accomplished. Although dry and dispassionate, Roads to Dominion is an excellent source of historical material on the rise of the Radical Right in America.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.