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From the Hardcover edition.
1. Before reading this book, what were your views of the controversy surrounding the issue of governmental and religious independence? Have they changed? If so, how?
2. Discuss the author’s vocation as a Christian minister and his progressive social and political views. Do you see a conflict between the two? Why or why not?
3. Discuss the intersection of religion and politics. Why has religion become such a large part of political discourse in recent memory? Do you think our country has benefited from religion being injected into national political debate? Why or why not?
4. “Imagine if [Thomas] Jefferson were alive and running for office today. His bold dismissal of miracles, his rejection of the Trinity, and his advice to his nephew would make him the Religious Right’s public enemy number one. It is a great irony that Jefferson, the man who helped birth our republic, could not today be elected to any office in it” (pages 28—29). Do you agree with the author’s assertion? Do you think other historical figures from the past might face opposition in this day and age? If so, which leaders, and what obstacles might they encounter?
5. Consider the national debate about evolution versus intelligent design in school science instruction, as well as the federal lawsuit regarding the Dover, Pennsylvania, school board’s choice to adopt intelligent design theory as part of its ninth-grade biology curriculum (the author details this in chapter 2). What do you think of this issue and of the judge’s ruling against the district?
6. How would you answer the question the author poses in chapter 2: “Since so muchreligious activity is legal in public schools, and since religions can be discussed in so many different ways, why do Americans keep fighting over religion in the public schools?” (page 64).
7. “At the end of the day, the faith-based initiative amounts to little more than a scheme by the federal government to put the poor on church steps one day and drop a bag of money there the next and pray they find one another” (page 118). Does harm come from government sponsorship of religious groups, or are there benefits to this kind of support? If the latter, what are some advantages to society?
8. “Religious texts are a poor basis for government because religious texts are notoriously open to varying interpretations” (page 170). Think of this statement in terms of the documents upon which American democracy was founded: the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights. Could the same be said of these documents, considering how society–and democracy–has changed since they were first conceived? Do you consider yourself a “constructionist,” meaning do you interpret documents like the Bible or the Constitution literally, or do you construe their meaning within the social context to which they might apply?
9. In chapter 7, the author discusses the Religious Right’s many attempts to force the removal of certain books from public library systems that they consider offensive or counter to religious teaching. Do you find it ironic that organizations that advocate religious freedom also desire to restrict the choices of books available to the public in an institution like a library? How do you believe the Religious Right is able to address this seeming incompatibility in its own views?
10. The author states in the conclusion: “Slowly but surely the wall of separation between church and state is being eroded, much to the detriment of our pluralistic democracy” (page 255). Do you agree? If so, what are some solutions to the problem?
Posted February 16, 2012
This man shares how the evangelical tea party movement has co-opted the political system and stagnated the Congress. He has insights and ideas worth looking at.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted December 29, 2009
No text was provided for this review.