Suing for America's Soul: John Whitehead, the Rutherford Institute, and Conservative Christians in the Courts

Suing for America's Soul: John Whitehead, the Rutherford Institute, and Conservative Christians in the Courts

Suing for America's Soul: John Whitehead, the Rutherford Institute, and Conservative Christians in the Courts

Suing for America's Soul: John Whitehead, the Rutherford Institute, and Conservative Christians in the Courts

Synopsis

When John W. Whitehead founded The Rutherford Institute as a Christian legal advocacy group in 1982, he was interested primarily in the First Amendment's religion clause, serving clients only when religious freedom was at stake. By the mid-1990s, however, religious rights were but one subset of all the freedoms that he saw threatened by an invasive government.

In Suing for America's Soul R. Jonathan Moore examines the foundation and subsequent practices of The Rutherford Institute, helping to explain the rise of conservative Christian legal advocacy groups in recent decades. Moore exposes the effects -- good and bad -- that such legal activism has had on the evangelical Protestant community. Thought-provoking and astute, Suing for America's Soul opens a revealing window onto evangelical Protestantism at large in late-twentieth-century America.

Excerpt

In the Art Institute of Chicago there is a large gallery devoted to the Thorne Miniature Rooms. Meticulously detailed, crafted on a scale of one inch to one foot, rooms from castles, historic homes, chapels, and places of business have been re-created. These models, situated in small boxes, are so subtly lit in various shades of afternoon sun streaming through windows or candles on tables that the viewer senses what it would have been like to inhabit the full-scale room. Indeed, many visitors report that the Thorne replicas allowed them to access elements of the space that they had not noticed upon visiting the original full-scale rooms. By concentrating on the miniaturized versions, viewers could see important characteristics that might have otherwise been overlooked.

Similarly, recall the way art history books ofty. Then, on the next page, the book takes one feature, such as a single wheelbarrow or a figure’s nose, and labels it “Village Scene: Detail.” in the same vein, a favorite New Yorker cartoon depicts an everyday scene featuring an ordinary man on his porch as he leaves for work, with the caption “The Milky Way: Detail.” Reducing to manageable size a complex reality allows us to grasp critical details and better understand a broader context.

In this book, Jonathan Moore has provided us with a comparable close-up that reveals a much wider world. Newspaper and journal articles abound that deal with grand-scale phenomena such as the United States Supreme Court, the Christian Right, evangelical legal societies, and more. Readers who try to stay on top of all this soon find their eyes glazing over, the mind wandering, the spirit growing tired. But by taking the Rutherford Institute as his subject, Moore reduces things to manageable size while still . . .

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