Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Review: 'Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right is Hijacking Mainstream Religion' by Sheldon Culver and John Dorhauer

Review by Susan Gardner
How the Christian Right is Hijacking Mainstream Religion 

By Sheldon Culver and John Dorhauer 
Ig Publishing 
New York, 2007
During the summer, Obama made headlines when he accused the Christian right of "hijacking" religion for political purposes. For those following the rise of neoconservatism closely over the past decades, this seemed a fairly straightforward, non-controversial statement, yet apparently it stirred up an indignant hornet's nest, evidenced by the senator's "defense" a month later.
To Sheldon Culver and John Dorhauer, the brouhaha must have seemed inexplicable. The two authors have worked for years to help individual congregations identify and fight back against just such efforts-and they even had coined a specific name for it: "Steeplejacking." And while Obama left the question of whether such takeovers are local, organic and spontaneous, the two experts leave little room for a doubt.
Simply put, the heart and soul of many historic denominations are being threatened by a covert army made up of outside forces that ally with-and often plant-members inside the local church.... We are engaged in a battle with people for whom no honest engagement is possible, because they believe that our essential beliefs are in error, and that the purity of their doctrine cannot be uncompromised.
And is this movement orchestrated? Oh, yeah. And as plotted out as any 19th century military battle. The strategic takeovers are usually planned by the Institute of Religion and Democracy, an organization that has managed to unite conservative political and religious forces to train activists, develop and disseminate propaganda, and advise on tactics. Steeplejacking, springing from the direct experiences of the authors on advising targeted congregations, serves as a manual on how to detect and diagnose when an outside takeover is in the making. The protective roles of laity, pastors and larger denominational institutions are laid out in a simple how-to format, and the slim volume offers practical guidance on how to expose and defend against a steeplejack.
Our own Frederick Clarkson provides the Introduction, and Dorhauer is a regular contributor to Talk To Action.

Editor's note: This review was originally published at the Daily Kos, which notes that its "content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified." The original page can be found here. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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