God Under Howard: The rise of the religious right in Australian politics
Allen & Unwin, $29.95 pb, 386 pp, 1741145686
Campaigning during the 1912 US presidential election, the great labour leader and socialist Eugene Debs used to tell his supporters that he could not lead them into the Promised Land because if they were trusting enough to be led in they would be trusting enough to be led out again. In other words, he was counselling his voters to resist the easy certitude that zealotry brings; to reject a politics that trades on blind faith rather than the critical power of reason. The eventual winner of that fraught election was Woodrow Wilson, a deeply religious man who viewed the separation of Church and State as an inconvenience, and who seemed to believe that the United States was, metaphysically conceived, a religion to which the rest of the world needed to be converted. Generally, however, in the United States, the line between the secular and the religious has been policed with vigilance by Congress and by lobby groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State.