Fundamentalism in American Religion and Law: Obama's Challenge to Patriarchy's Threat to Democracy

Fundamentalism in American Religion and Law: Obama's Challenge to Patriarchy's Threat to Democracy

by David A. J. Richards
     
 

Why, from Reagan to George Bush, have fundamentalists in religion and in law (originalists) exercised such political power and influence in the United States? Why has the Republican Party forged an ideology of judicial appointments (originalism) hostile to abortion and gay rights? Why and how did Barack Obama distinguish himself among Democratic candidates not only

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Overview

Why, from Reagan to George Bush, have fundamentalists in religion and in law (originalists) exercised such political power and influence in the United States? Why has the Republican Party forged an ideology of judicial appointments (originalism) hostile to abortion and gay rights? Why and how did Barack Obama distinguish himself among Democratic candidates not only by his opposition to the Iraq war but by his opposition to originalism? This book argues that fundamentalism in both religion and law threatens democratic values and draws its appeal from a patriarchal psychology still alive in our personal and political lives and at threat from the constitutional developments since the 1960s. The argument analyzes this psychology (based on traumatic loss in intimate life) and resistance to it (based on the love of equals). Obama’s resistance to originalism arises from his developmental history as a democratic, as opposed to patriarchal, man who resists the patriarchal demands on men and women that originalism enforces – in particular, the patriarchal love laws that tell people who and how and how much they may love.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this important and challenging book, David Richards asks us to consider: how can fundamentalism in religion and law flourish in an advanced nation like the United States, given the deep consensus about the enduring values of democratic constitutionalism? Richards delves masterfully into the psychology of fundamentalism, diagnosing its irrationalities and showing how they endanger the existence of a free society. All citizens concerned about the erosion of democracy and the negative obstructionism to the progressive ideals of the Obama administration need to read this book." - Carol Gilligan, University Professor, New York University

"Fundamentalism in American Religion and Law presents a bold and intriguing psychological hypothesis, which may help to explain the continuing appeal of some weird and destructive ideas." - Andrew Koppelman, John Paul Stevens Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University

"[Richards is] to be congratulated for critiquing religious fundamentalism from within a religious perspective and offering alternative readings of religious tradition, rather than simply dissecting it from the outside. ... there is much to admire and chew over in this book." - Paul Horwitz, Concurring Opinions

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781107639980
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
01/02/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.67(d)

Meet the Author

David A. J. Richards is Edwin D. Webb Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, where he teaches constitutional law, criminal law, and (with Carol Gilligan) a seminar on resisting injustice. He is the author of sixteen books, most recently Tragic Manhood and Democracy: Verdi's Voice and the Powers of Musical Art (2004); Disarming Manhood: The Roots of Ethical Resistance (2005); The Case for Gay Rights: From Bowers to Lawrence and Beyond (2005); Patriarchal Religion, Sexuality, and Gender: A Critique of New Natural Law (with Nicholas Bamforth, 2008); The Deepening Darkness: Patriarchy, Resistance, and Democracy's Future (with Carol Gilligan, 2009); and The Sodomy Cases: Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas (2009). He has served as vice president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy and was the Shikes lecturer in civil liberties at the Harvard Law School in 1998.

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