Two Books

June 15, 2013

I recently read two books that cite my Ethics Daily news articles about a key 1980 religious-political rally in Houston (that I wrote for the 30th anniversary of the rally in 2010). The first one is God's Right Hand: How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American Right, which cites my article about evangelist Bailey Smith claiming at the rally that God does not hear the prayers of Jews. This books is well-researched and well-written. The author, a journalist who has written for religious and mainstream publications, provides a balanced view of Falwell as he both notes when Falwell lied or made mistakes and when Falwell's critics falsely attacked him. The book demonstrates that regardless what one may think of Falwell, he clearly impacted religion and politics in the latter part of the 20th Century. The book also paints a strong picture of how problematic it can be for preachers to morph into politicians. The second book is A Thorn in the Flesh: How Gay Sexuality is Changing the Episcopal Church, which cites my article that noted remarks at the rally by then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan (and that featured my first interview with evangelist James Robison). The book does a good job of merging scholarly concepts into a style friendly to non-academics, and should be of particular interest to Episcopalians. The book clearly comes with an agenda as it critiques the conservative movement that attempted to block the Episcopal Church's efforts to become a welcoming and affirming body.