For readers of Democracy in Chains and Dark Money, a revelatory investigation of the Religious Right's rise to political power.
For too long the Religious Right has masqueraded as a social movement preoccupied with a number of cultural issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In her deeply reported investigation, Katherine Stewart reveals a disturbing truth: this is a political movement that seeks to gain power and to impose its vision on all of society. America's religious nationalists aren't just fighting a culture war, they are waging a political war on the norms and institutions of American democracy.
Stewart pulls back the curtain on the inner workings and leading personalities of a movement that has turned religion into a tool for domination. She exposes a dense network of think tanks, advocacy groups, and pastoral organizations embedded in a rapidly expanding community of international alliances and united not by any central command but by a shared, anti-democratic vision and a common will to power. She follows the money that fuels this movement, tracing much of it to a cadre of super-wealthy, ultraconservative donors and family foundations. She shows that today's Christian nationalism is the fruit of a longstanding antidemocratic, reactionary strain of American thought that draws on some of the most troubling episodes in America's past. It forms common cause with a globe-spanning movement that seeks to destroy liberal democracy and replace it with nationalist, theocratic and autocratic forms of government around the world. Religious nationalism is far more organized and better funded than most people realize. It seeks to control all aspects of government and society. Its successes have been stunning, and its influence now extends to every aspect of American life, from the White House to state capitols, from our schools to our hospitals.
The Power Worshippers is a brilliantly reported book of warning and a wake-up call. Stewart's probing examination demands that Christian nationalism be taken seriously as a significant threat to the American republic and our democratic freedoms.
Journalist Stewart (The Good News Club) provides a comprehensive, chilling look at America's Christian nationalist movement, which she convincingly portrays as a highly organized political coalition that has "already transformed the political landscape and shaken the foundations upon which lay our democratic norms and institutions." Arguing that Christian nationalism has been misunderstood as focusing on social issues (mainly abortion and gay marriage), Stewart shows, through painstaking reporting over the past decade, that the movement aims "to replace our foundational democratic principles and institutions with a state grounded on a particular version of Christianity... that also happens to serve the interests of its plutocratic funders and allied political leaders." For example, she writes, Christian nationalists have embarked on an extensive, coordinated campaign to radically reform public education, particularly within the charter school sector, where "egregious examples of church-school fusion are far from anomalous," an effort spearheaded by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Stewart also explores how Catholic ultraconservative Leonard Leo used the Federalist Society to target judgeships and "establish religion in the name of religious liberty' " and how multinational Christian organizations, such as the World Congress of Families, are organizing to fight a grassroots "global holy war" against secularism. Her insightful investigation places the power of Christian nationalism into full context.