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Winston

Brisbane, Austria | Member Since 2008

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  • Attack of the Theocrats!: How the Religious Right Harms Us All - and What We Can Do About It

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Sean Faircloth
    • Narrated By Sean Faircloth, Richard Dawkins
    Overall
    (167)
    Performance
    (155)
    Story
    (158)

    At no time in history has the United States had such a high percentage of theocratic members of Congress - those who expressly endorse religious bias in law. Just as ominously, especially for those who share the values and views of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, at no other time have religious fundamentalists effectively had veto power over one of the country's two major political parties. As Sean Faircloth argues in this deeply sobering yet highly engaging book, this has led to the crumbling of the country's most cherished founding principle - the wall of separation between church and state.

    A says: "Was expecting more but well worth it"
    "Eloquent Passion, Concern and Hope from a Patriot"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Concerned by faith-based initiatives, tax and regulatory exemptions for Christian "charities" (but which are conspicuously absent for the other religions out there, including Hinduism, which predates Judaism), Faircloth summons his biting sarcasm and thorough research skills for a well-reasoned clarion call to action. Although most of the theocrats he takes to task are Republicans, he does criticise Barack Obama for failing to remain faithful (no pun intended) to a pre-election promise.

    Chock full of trustworthy sources, Faircloth reveals that unfair, unequal legal standards are applied; one for the religious, and one for everyone else. Faith harming (in some cases degenerating to faith murder) by religious parents who believe in sin, lies by the Reagan administration linking pornography to violence, blackmailing foreign aid recipients on the condition that they forbid reproductive education for women are just the tip of this perniciously polluted iceberg.

    Perhaps most importantly, every issue identified by Faircloth here is paired with a reasonable solution that will provide real, tangible benefits for everyone, not just those who share a particular philosophy.

    Chapter 1

    Separation of church and state is being torn asunder. The First Amendment is being misconstrued and lied about.

    Jefferson explicitly stated the Founding Fathers' desire for a WALL of separation (which likely led to Texas attempting to remove him from the state's textbooks). There are numerous cases of faith torture and murder (when parents refuse to get their children even the most rudimentary care) are conducted under the banner of special exemptions for religiously-based "conscientious" objections. One particularly ghastly incident involved a child developing a tumour the size of a baseball on their shoulder. "Special" rights are a common "justification" used to deny equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. This misses the essence of the issue - love and informed, consenting adults. Religious verses are used to justify and promote violence. Let's face it, "Do not kill" is vastly outnumbered by edicts demanding the opposite in the book of Exodus by several dozen orders of magnitude. Rick Warren equated Michael Schiavo to Nazis. Caring more for the brain dead than for those who can still suffer will do that to one's moral sensibilities. Churches are rarely audited by the IRS, which only allows them to flout their loopholes in ever more brazen fashions, including setting up their ministers and their families in lavish multi-million dollar McMansions. Religious groups can fire whoever they wish, even in states with anti-discrimination laws. Numerous politicians advocate mandatory creation classes

    Unregulated church businesses (inc. gyms, treatment centres, etc) are exempt from the usual regulatory standards, leading to atrocious treatment of toddlers in religious daycare centres.

    Chapter 2 deals with the founding fathers' actual intentions, private writings, and, crucially, the Treaty of Tripoli, which explicitly states that the US is not founded on Christianity. Sorry Turek, you lose. Most of the Fathers would never be elected to Congress, let alone the Presidency, today.

    Chapter 3 is the longest, and in my estimation, the most crucial. It shows how laws that give special privileges and unearned exemptions to religious organisations hurts everybody, including Christians.

    Emergency contraception is being denied to women because pharmacists can cite "religious objections" to dispensing contraceptives. The gag rule and hurdles to women's reproductive rights in foreign countries, under penalty of losing crucial aid, leads to back-alley abortions and death for women. This must be repealed. At present, the rule's enforcement depends solely on who sits in the Whitehouse. Abstinence-only "education" continues to be funded, despite their proven failure, leading to higher rates of STDs/unwanted pregnancies/abortions. If pro-lifers truly wanted to reduce abortion rates (and help teens make mature decisions concerning sex) they would ditch this nonsense. But they don't. Opposition to ESCR, even when embryos would be discarded otherwise, further reveals their hypocrisy and inverted sense of priorities. Death with Dignity legislation (well overdue) in Oregon and Washington is based on compassion and individual choice. The sooner a federal law is passed permitting this final right, the better. Faith harming/murder is explored in greater detail, as are religious nurseries and day care centres. James Dobson & Daniel Pearl's abusive parenting policies are derived directly from the bible, showing how useless the "good" book is for raising children.

    Chapter 4 concerns sexual morality, true morality (harm vs benefits) and the hypocrisy of so-called pro-family groups (and let's not forget Ted Haggard). He is quite right to lambast the excessively PC left-wingers such as Andrea Dworkin.

    A repressive, Victorian-era (some would say Puritan) approach to sex is not healthy. Fortunately, it did not lead to Bill Clinton's defeat in 1996.

    And that's just the first half of the book. The second begins with fifty of the most vile, hateful and extreme "faithful" fundamentalists in Congress, who wield a disproportionate amount of power over all other Americans. Anti-gay hatred, tinfoil-esque conspiracies and whack-job tea party succor are just the appetizer. This book is a much-needed wake-up call to America in the 21st century, and we all owe Faircloth and debt of gratitude for writing this book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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