Wayward Christian Soldiers
Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity
Oxford University Press, $25, 256 pp.
Charles Marsh’s book joins the lengthening list of volumes rushed into print by what might be called an elite-media panic over the power of the Christian Right. The overwhelming support of Evangelicals for George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, compounded by the misadventures of the Iraq war, has generated a spate of bold and scary titles: American Theocracy, Religion Gone Bad, The Rise of Christian Nationalism. At times in Wayward Christian Soldiers, Marsh (a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia) seems intent on being ominous himself, as when he tells us that “the Evangelical empire has produced...a world bereft of moral accountability, intellectual curiosity, trustworthiness, and honesty,” or that “the postmodern White House is an incubator of epistemological terror,” where “truth is...slain with a shrug and a grin.” The lack of nuance in such passages makes them less than persuasive.
Thankfully, however, much of Wayward Christian Soldiers focuses on the explicitly theological reasons why Marsh, who calls himself an Evangelical, takes such offense at the mobilization and continuing support of other Evangelicals on behalf of George W. Bush and the Republican Party generally. The book links its strong attacks on the president and his policies to equally strong attacks on conservative Evangelical spokespersons (Pat Robertson, Tim...