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The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  611 ratings  ·  117 reviews
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. But in her deeply reported investigation, Katherine Stewart reveals a disturbing truth: Amer
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing
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Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
American Inferiority

One of the many paradoxes of the American republic is its self-image as a risk-taking, pioneering, adventurous people. Yet it is none of these. America’s timidity and uncertainty about itself is demonstrated most forcefully in its obsession with religion and its use of religion as a political force. As Katherine Stewart says, the recent turn to the divine has very little to do with religious doctrine, and absolutely nothing to do with Christian ethics. It is a political movem
Clif Hostetler
I noted with interest that during the storming of the Federal Capitol on January 6, 2021 that some of those involved were carrying Christian symbols and signs, and at one point one of the leaders of the invasion of the Senate chamber, Jacob Chansley, actually asked the rioters to pause in their rampage and join him for a moment of prayer to God, "Thank you for allowing the United States to be reborn." I wondered what kind of Christianity motivated this action. Reborn to what?

I read this book to
Paul Denihan
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought I had a good grasp of politics, but I never understood why religious conservatives, who are supposed to care about "morals" and "family values" could support a president like Trump. This book helped me understand the answer. Stewart travels through the world of Christian nationalism and meets with leaders and foot soldiers of the movement, attending their conferences and gatherings, and providing historical context as to why the religious right has gained so much power in modern Americ ...more
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Originally published on my book blog,

Katherine Stewart deftly explains the intersection of Christian evangelism and political power in The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. She breaks down the history, the people, organizations, goals, and the tactics. For the first time, I’m completely clear on the way billionaire power brokers are breaking through the separation of church and state. And it’s scary as hell.

Stewart begins with how this rad
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
This book assumes as an unchallenged premise that America’s Religious Right has evolved into Christian Nationalist and that the Republican Party is currently controlled by the ultraconservatives within their own party. That kind of framing does a disservice to what is really being done against this country.

The real question that this book skirts at is why 80% of white Evangelical Christians support Donald Trump. What is it about his fascism that they love so much? Why do they overlap in their be
Chris Sosa
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I grew up in an Evangelical cult and was homeschooled until college. I've been deeply familiar with a number of the subjects Katherine Stewart explores in "The Power Worshippers" since I was a kid. My family even donated to some of the players.

Stewart does a fantastic job of providing an accessible overview of the far-right theocratic movement in the United States and explaining how it came to subsume such a large portion of American Christianity. Her working understanding of the subject outpace
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This some truly scary stuff, but it’s timely and more people need to read this. I grew up in the religious south where you’d see the religious creep in the social structure and public institutions. It wasn’t until I moved away from there that I saw how fucked up it was. A true wolf in sheep’s clothing. Katherine Stewart provides an excellent piece of journalism here, and many Americans need to be aware of this, but most importantly, they also need to vote.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Everything in this book is absolutely terrifying
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Really 2.5 stars. This was clearly written with an agenda and slant, much of which caused me to bristle. What is clear, however, from the factual reporting, is that many evangelicals are so focused on obtaining state-sponsored privilege, they are willing to look past the means to progress at any cost. Too often, this provides cover for white supremacy, racial subjugation, and an unbiblical view of environmental stewardship in the name of Christian Nationalism, minimizing the reality and impact o ...more
Randall Wallace
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
It wasn’t until five years after Roe v. Wade that Jerry Falwell made an issue out of abortion. The Religious Right actually first got together to oppose the IRS labelling the Bob Jones University as racially discriminating. Abortion’s back story: Fifty years ago, most Protestants did not oppose abortion rights. The Right had to inspire a religious movement in 1979 with a new theme but “Stop the tax on racist schools!” just wasn’t killing it in the focus groups. They had to come up with something ...more
Dan Graser
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Katherine Stewart has chronicled the rise of christian nationalism in the US in very thorough fashion with this latest volume. Detailing the less familiar names of this (bowel) movement such as Weyrich, Rushdoody, Dallis, Barton, and Drollinger; she effectively examines the origins of this well-funded cult and the myriad ways they seek to insinuate themselves in every possible political and social arena, no matter how undemocratic the means or how much they need to pervert the American Founders' ...more
Brandon Cormier
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
The power worshippers is another look into the the religious nationalists and the attempt at taking control over the American nation Making it seem like Christianity is the only hope for our godless world

Katherine Stewart does a great job at putting together this material she pin points all the areas that this movement is trying to control education, Medicare , LGBT rights , women’s rights etc she does it in a very professional way this book isn’t about hating christians but at shining light on
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, adult
This book is well-written and well-researched. I had to read it incredibly slowly because of how angry it made me.
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I knew I had to read this book after listening to a fascinating podcast interview with the author. She has done an incredible job digging below the visible surface of the Christian Nationalist movement, which is defined as not simply personal religious belief or individual activism, but rather a well-financed effort to restructure the American political system which has most recently manifested in the election of Donald Trump.

It’s easy at times to chuckle at groups that call environmentalism “o
Terrifying. But a must-read. Fave quote from it:

"...[T]he religious right has become more focused and powerful even as it is arguably less representative. It is not a social or cultural movement. It is a political movement, and its ultimate goal is power. It does not seek to add another voice to America's pluralistic democracy but to replace our foundational democratic principles and institutions with a state grounded on a particular version of Christianity, answering to what some adherents call
Ed Eleazer
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of American democracy. Stewart details how the religious right (with money from reactionary plutocrats) is seeking to gain control of both federal and state governments to create a theocratic form of government based upon their own narrow (and false) reading of the Bible. As a born-again Christian, I am shocked at how these folk have misread the Scripture so as to benefit their own sense of "rightness" and order. I am also shocked th ...more
Victor Smith
Christian nationalism revealed--and it isn't as benign as it sounds

I read the book and am writing this review in the midst of the 2020 Corona-virus pandemic. The current crisis was not my sole impetus for picking up Stewart' s The Power Worshippers, but it contributed to understanding a whole lot more about our governments' (federal and state) proclivity for policies contrary to common sense and public well-being, and it isn't the economy this time.
This past week Trump held a rally in an enclos
Brian Asalone
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A frightening look at the power, influence and growth of the christian right in American politics, schools and even, oddly, churches. The author shows the ties to the super rich supporting an essentially authoritarian vision tied to a religious theme. It works on several levels, from tax free organizations promoting a particular "religiously correct" voting platform, to proselytizing from the pulpit, invading schools with "good news clubs", using the voucher programs in various states to essenti ...more
Clarissa Bundy
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important books I’ve ever read. Throughly-researched, very well written, and utterly terrifying.
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a very informative, well written encapsulation of the Christian Nationalism that has patiently, willfully, and calculatedly capped a forty year struggle/ plan to ensconce itself in the top levels of power in this country. I have been aware of this movement and its machinations and doctrines, (seven mountains, for instance), for years, and this book exposes those to, hopefully, a wider audience. It goes further and deeper to flesh out and add to what the initiated, (like myself), already ...more
Jack Davenport
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the role that right-wing Christian nationalism plays in our national politics. One of the most confounding aspects of Trump's presidency has, for me, been the support he engenders from the Christian evangelical community. I was raised Catholic and now identify as Lutheran, and it was hard for me to understand how the Christian community could so vociferously and unswervingly support a man such as Donald Trump who does not seem to dem ...more
Roo Phillips
Jun 18, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a difficult book to review. Most of the book is going over the prominent people and organizations that push for a variety of christianity in the public arena. There are many people and many organizations involved, agendas that tend from biblical literalism, and really it isn't all that surprising. Some of it is concerning for my worldview to be sure, but you don't get a sense of what to do from here with this book.

This book is more about alerting you to the hundreds of millions of dolla
Amanda Silfani
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is thorough and outlines how Christian Nationalism is dangerous, well funded, well organized and impacting democracy as we know it. One unfortunate (and insidious) aspect is there are members of the movement that are completely unaware of how it’s been hijacked by wealthy donors committed to a quest for more power, money and political gain; usually under the guise of religious freedom and at the expense of others. Then there are the members that know exactly what the movement is about, ...more
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reads
Well researched, and frankly terrifying.
David Rush
Feb 02, 2021 rated it liked it
If you follow evangelical celebrities at all you have an idea their current view that they are in a battle of spiritual warfare against the rest of the world, and they take it very seriously. What you may not know is how organized and relentless the movement is and how far their reach goes in the US government, and beyond.

I have been intrigued by evangelicals for decades and while I knew virtually every politician has to at least pay lip service to religions, I didn’t know how deep they have bur
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The blurb on the book cover reads: "If anyone is wondering how the religious right and President Trump ended up in their unholy alliance, Katherine Stewart has the answer".
This is exactly the question which has bothered me for all the years of Trump's presidency: how can a so-called Christian group support a president, who openly violates every Judeo-Christian value that I am familiar with, and whose policies are the exact opposite of all the Judeo-Christian teachings that I am familiar with?
B. Rule
Stewart's tireless effort to uncover the dense mycelial networks of the Christian nationalist hard right is terrifying, depressing, and at times overblown. In tight and largely humorless reporting, she catalogs the bewildering proliferation of organizations that absorb vast amounts of money which is then distributed in the halls of power (and presumably back into the system of wing-nut welfare-- a term Stewart does not use but is effectively describing). Interestingly, the same names pop up over ...more
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“Many leaders of the Christian Right like to dress up in red, white, and blue and announce themselves as true patriots. But they are the same people who seek to pervert our institutions, betray our international alliances and make friends with despots, degrade the public discourse, treat the constitution as a subcategory of their holy texts, demean whole segments of the population, foist their authoritarian creed upon other people’s children, and celebrate the elevation of a “king” to the presid ...more
Linda Anderson
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
I was amazed by some of the research the author was able to do. I had not realized the extent that political agendas have inundated communities of faith, education, and health in the U. S. I also had not realized the global nature of religious nationalism. I understand a lot of the marketing that has been done to the religious right to push political agendas. I learned a lot about Catholic hospitals And and their not treating women who are having miscarriages, sometimes causing life threatening ...more
Gayle Turner
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most important book I have read in years.

The rise of Christian nationalism is a threat to American democracy. Ms. Stewart pulls back the curtain on the Orwellian tactics used by what has become a global movement of repression.

The political right continue to wrap themselves in red, white, and blue claiming their religious liberty is being denied all the while undermining American values and seeking to oppress anyone who does not interpret the Bible the way they do.

I repeat
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10 likes · 1 comments
“In order to achieve political unity around abortion, the leaders of the emerging Christian nationalist movement understood, it was also necessary to change the deep frame of American religion. So that is what they set out to do. The modern pro-life religion that dominates America’s conservative churches and undergirds a variety of their denominations is a political creation.” 0 likes
“Among apologists for Christian nationalism today, the favored myth is that the movement represents an extension of the abolitionism of the nineteenth century and perhaps of the civil rights movement of the twentieth century, too. Many antiabortion activists self-consciously identify themselves as the new abolitionists. Mainstream conservatives who lament that the evangelicals who form Trump’s most fervent supporters have ‘lost their way’ suggest that they have betrayed their roots in the movements that fought for the abolition of slavery and the end of discrimination. But the truth is that today’s Christian nationalism did not emerge out of the religious movement that opposed such rigid hierarchies. It came from the one that promoted them — with the Bible in one hand and a whip in the other.” 0 likes
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