Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All-And What We Can Do about It
Boston, Rob, The Humanist
Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All--And What We Can Do About It
by Sean Faircloth
(Pitchstone Publishing, 2012) 164 pp; $14.95
A friend recently passed on a slick magazine to me published by a religious right group. The cover depicted a close-up shot of a large steamroller under dark and threatening skies. The headline read, "Secularism: Can It Be Stopped?"
Let's hope not! Secularism--and by that I mean primarily secular government--is the platform upon which religious and philosophical liberty rests. We will not be a free nation without it.
Sean Faircloth understands this. If you missed his book, Attack of the Theocrats!, when it came out in hardback, you can now pick it up in the new paperback edition. Not only is it cheaper, the paperback has a much better cover.
Thankfully, what's between the covers remains the same--and it's good stuff indeed. Faircloth, former executive director of the Secular Coalition for America and currently director of strategy and policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, writes with real passion. His lively text zips right along, and before you know it you've finished this short book. You're a better person for it.
We hear a lot about the "war on religion" these days. Attack of the Theocrats! is a much-needed response to those inflated claims. Far from warring on religion, U.S. laws and customs favor religion, as Faircloth points out in example after example, and this has not been good for us.
Among the most valuable chapters in the book is the third, titled "Religious Bias in Law Harms Us All." Here, Faircloth explains how our culture's predilection to favor religion hurts Americans.
Some examples: Young people are taught nearly useless "abstinence only" programs in public schools instead of comprehensive sex education. Religious childcare centers in many states are free from sensible regulations designed to protect children. In other states, faith-healing parents watch their children die painful deaths and are not punished. Televangelists snatch up mansions, send hastily ordained relatives to live in them and demand clergy housing exemptions from the IRS. No one blinks. People with terminal illnesses are made to die slow and painful deaths because of religious objections to death with dignity laws.
Faircloth writes with genuine conviction. His discussion of children who have died due to faith healing will test your stomach--and it may spur you to action. In a discussion of religion's long attempt to control human sexuality, he lays out the case against religious justifications for laws in an amusing yet instructive way.
"Assume that I proposed to take away another citizen's human rights, and that I justified taking away those rights by referring to, let's say, an ancient, one-thousand-year-old parchment from, say Romania," Faircloth writes. "You'd say that's an absolutely wacko justification for denying human rights. However, if I change the hypothetical to a two-thousand-year-old document from the Levant and, if I further assert that this two-thousand-year-old document has supernatural powers, then the politicians fall over themselves bowing low and deep in subservience. …