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Esquire
Wednesday, May 17th, 2006
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Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism

by Michelle Goldberg

The Big Ascent

A review by Anna Godbersen

Megachurches, writes Michelle Goldberg, are "spiritual marketplaces" and fixtures of the "prefab exurban lifestyle," but they also provide a certain release from the alienation and conformity of modern society; they are "where the weirdness comes out." Of course, the megachurch is in some cases a place where you can buy a Big Mac or a Starbucks latte, and the members of megachurches are numerous; surely many of those numbers would like to see their brand of weirdness become the norm. As Goldberg, a Salon.com political writer, explains in her carefully argued but urgent book, Kingdom Coming, the congregations of megachurches provide foot soldiers in a movement of Christian nationalism that is changing the laws and tenets of American society. As part of the ideology of dominionism, "the idea that Christians have the God-given right to rule," evangelical groups have developed deep financial and political ties to the Republican party, placing themselves in positions of government power. These political/religious ambitions have come into play in the recent greatest hits of the culture war; Goldberg walks us through the Christian right's strategies on anti-gay marriage legislation, the Terri Schiavo case, and local fights over intelligent design.

Kingdom Coming is an important work of investigative journalism, exposing as it does a mass movement with "a vision of reality utterly at odds with that of the secular world," that would use its power to impose a religious worldview on a diverse country. Godlberg's book is also an impassioned plea against, "fundamentalism, tribalism, Puritanism and obscurantism," and for, "modernity, humanism, reason and progress." Those are the values with which she makes her case.


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