I hope Mark Tooley’s analysis of Randall Balmer’s book, provocatively subtitled “How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America: An Evangelical’s Lament,” adds to the critical momentum of Ross Douthat’s piece in First Things about that book and other similarly themed tomes.
I’m not sure what Balmer thinks he is doing writing a book like that. He’s an academic, someone who has deep knowledge of American evangelicals, and should by no means have the ability to don ideological blinders sufficient to write a hit piece. As a guy who has enjoyed some of Balmer’s previous work and one who is sympathetic to the religious right if not a card-carrying member, I was shocked to find out he’d written a book-length political pamphlet.
This is the sort of project that breaks up friendships. Hard to imagine it was worth it. Either the book contracts for this kind of work are really fat or the levels of what my friend Tom Van Dyke refers to as Bush Derangement Syndrome have risen well past the point of reason and fairness.