Critics of the religious right — and I am one — often differ on the approach to opposing them. Some believe it necessary to keep the debate civil and respectful. Others think the best approach is a two-by-four. Stacey Tallitsch falls in the latter camp. The problem is he puts such a large spike in the end of his club that his goal is lost in the bloodlust.
Bare Naked Truth – On the Religious Right leaves no doubt where Tallitsch stands. Tallitsch, an announced candidate for Congress in Louisiana, categorizes the religionists he attacks as “Dominionists.” The name comes from a variety of statements by evangelicals and fundamentalists that God has commanded Christians to exercise dominion over the Earth and society. Tallitsch’s attack on them uses a combination of approaches.
Tallitsch first examines what he sees as some of the fallacies of Christianity and then explores in detail numerous examples of hypocrisy, duplicity, hatred and intolerance of members and followers of the religious right. This then leads into an ongoing discussion and assertion that the true goal of Dominionists is persecution and destruction of anyone disagreeing with them.
In reality, the Religious Right in America is a group of mega-wealthy apocalyptic utopians, who honestly believe that in order for Christ to return, they must make heaven on earth. Frighteningly, in their hallucination of heaven is [sic] very much Aryan in nature, where all remnants of ‘heathen’ culture outside colonial Puritanism must be purged into extinction.
Tallitsch then explores his view that the politics of the religious right are embodied in the Bush Administration. At bottom, Tallitsch asserts that the Bush camp is part and parcel of the Dominionist conspiracy. In so doing, he freely equates Bush, his family and his politics to Adolph Hitler and Nazism, even devoting much of one chapter to exploring ties between President Bush’s grandfather and the Nazi regime.
The two approaches merge in an effort to demonstrate that the Dominionists and the Bush Administration share the same goal – fundamentalist Christian domination of both the nation and the world, a goal to be achieved by war on anyone who doesn’t believe. According to Tallitsch, “The Christian cultist’s [sic] playbook is little more than a revised version of Mein Kampf and Machiavelli’s The Prince, with many of the same goals and philosophies.”
That is just one example of the barrage of scathing comments Tallitsch makes. He asserts that “[t]he more ‘Christian’ a country is – the less freedom the people have, period.” He describes Patrick Henry College, an ultraconservative fundamentalist college in Virginia, as a “zombie factory.” He believes “fear, intimidation and abuse of power are the only things the Bush administration knows.”
Yet institutions aren’t Tallitsch’s only target. His views of a variety of people on the right include:
- Of Rev. Fred Phelps, a Topeka minister whose church has a web site called “God Hates Fags,” Tallitsch says, “Fortunately . . . he’s old and crusty and it won’t be long before he takes a long dirt nap.”
- “FReepers,” members of the Free Republic movement, are “barely more than roving bands of rogue thugs who brutalize, intimidate and vandalize based on whatever flavor of the day racist-misogynic-homophobic [sic] bitch they claim.”
- “Newt Gingrich used morals like you or I would toilet paper.”
- Rev. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, “is a shiver looking for a spine to crawl up, and runs his charity with the same type of bigotry he has expressed toward other religions.”
- Pat Robertson, one of Tallitsch’s favorite targets, “despis[es] with every fiber of his being that Pagan invention called Democracy.”
All of this makes the bold-faced “disclaimer” at the beginning of the last chapter somewhat ironic. The first sentence says, “This section is the personal opinion of the author.” More crucially, the overall tone tends to overwhelm the points Tallitsch tries to make. Nor is that the only problem with the work.
First, the book often reads more like a dictated stream of consciousness than a deliberative examination of the issues. For example, in a chapter devoted to George W. Bush (entitled “Pharaoh”) Tallitsch interjects a discussion of a lawsuit against a boys’ school operated by a Baptist church in Mississippi, including three full pages of excerpts from pleadings in the case.
Second, although extensively footnoted, some errors are readily apparent. Tallitsch twice quotes a section of Hitler’s Mein Kampf on war propaganda, saying it came “just before [Hitler] invaded Poland.” In fact, the volume of Mein Kampf he quotes was published in July 1925. Germany did not invade Poland until September 1939. Similarly, in asserting the religious right and the Bush Administration are exploring a biological weapon that targets specific genotypes, Tallitsch says scientists have discovered that “everyone with the last name O’Reilly, all over the world, can be traced back to a common ancestor.” Yet common sense says persons married or adopted into the O’Reilly family would not have that genetic strain. It leads the reader to wonder about the accuracy of other statements.
Finally, the number of grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors is mind-numbing. Perhaps reflective of the dangers of some self-publishing houses, the book looks as if it was never reviewed by a proofreader, let alone an editor. Some of these mistakes border on hilarious. At one point, Tallitsch describes the belief in the apocalypse and the second coming of Christ as “fundamentality the cork in Dominionist dyke.” At bottom, though, the gargantuan number of errors makes the book difficult to read.
All these things contribute to the ultimate failure of Bare Naked Truth. But the biggest factor is that the book’s valid points are lost in the vitriol. Tallitsch comes off as a secular equivalent to the religious right extremists he condemns. As enticing as it may be and much as opponents may abhor the radical religious right, they are unlikely to prevail by matching its intolerance.
If you want religious freedom and freedom of speech, it has to be available to everyone, not just the God created in your own image.
Stacey Tallitsch, Bare Naked Truth – On the Religious Right