The Church of Liberalism
Publisher: Crown Forum
Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team
I tend to agree with those who believe that liberalism is a mental disorder. I can think of no other explanation for those who hold steadfast to a system of beliefs that are self-contradictory, contrary to reason, and entirely Godless. Nor does Ann Coulter. In her latest book, Godless, she attempts to "throw open the doors of the church of liberalism" to expose the lunacy that exists within. "Liberals love to boast that they are not ‘religious,’" she begins, "which is what one would expect to hear from the state-sanctioned religion. It has its own cosmology, its own miracles, its own beliefs in the supernatural, its own churches, its own high priests, its own saints, its own total worldview, and its own explanation of the existence of the universe. In other words, liberalism contains all the attributes of what is generally known as ‘religion.’"
Coulter frames liberalism as the opposition party to God. "Liberalism is a comprehensive belief system denying the Christian belief in man’s immortal soul." An important footnote explains her understanding of the term Christian. "Throughout this book, I often refer to Christians and Christianity because I am a Christian and I have a fairly good idea of what they believe, but the term is intended to include anyone who subscribes to the Bible of the God of Abraham, including Jews and others." This rather inclusive understanding of Christian keeps Coulter focusing on the Old Testament rather than the New. She speaks often of God and of Creation, but rarely (if ever) of Jesus.
Based on the title of the book and on the opening sentences, I had assumed that Coulter’s thesis in this book would involve proving that liberalism is a religion. I did not find this to be the case. Rather, the book was a collection of sometimes insightful and sometimes outrageous facts about liberalism with little reference back to this thesis. The chapter titles ("The Martyr: Willie Horton," "The Liberal Priesthood: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Teacher," "The Creation Myth: On the Sixth Day, God Created Fruit Flies") keep the theme alive, but only barely. Despite this incongruity, the book contains vast amounts of interesting facts and information. Coulter certainly has a way with words.
Coulter is nothing if not witty (and reminds me of Mark Driscoll in that way). The book is replete with statements like this: "Throughout the 2004 campaign, the Democrats were looking for a Democrat who believed in God–a pursuit similar to a woman searching for a boyfriend in a room full of choreographers." "In fourth grade Americans are in the 92nd percentile in science literacy…Eight years later, American twelfth-graders’ science scores have fallen to the 29th percentile. (For those of you who learned math in the U.S. public schools, going from the 92nd to the 29th means it went down.)" "This is why we need the death penalty. Without it, you always run the risk that a Democrat will come to power and start releasing all the prisoners sentenced to life in prison." "While gays were being decimated by the AIDS virus, Koop was more interested in not ‘stigmatizing’ them than in saving their lives. See, where I come from being dead also carries a certain type of stigma. Instead of distributing condoms in gay bars and at Madonna concerts where they might have done some good, Koop insisted on distributing condoms in kindergarten classes, in order to emphasize the point that AIDS does not discriminate, which it does." Similar statements can be found ad infinitum and ad nauseum.
Despite an obnoxious thread of sarcasm throughout the book, Coulter does a good job of exposing the lunacy of liberalism. She shows how it constantly contradicts itself; she shows how it celebrates death and destruction; she shows how it is fundamentally opposed to human life and to the God who created life. She affirms the truth of truth and the unchanging rules of life and morality given to us in Scripture. Though she does so with little of Christian love and compassion, she certainly does so convincingly. Her view of the world is clearly very black and white and perhaps a little too much so. Still, as she says, "truth is truth whether we like it or not."
It does seem that liberalism is a mental disorder. But as a Christian, I can see that it goes even deeper than this and, like many mental disorders, must be caused by spiritual infirmity. Liberalism is opposed to human life because it is opposed to God. Liberalism is proof of the truths of Romans l: "God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! … since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them" (Romans 1:24-25, 28-32, emphasis mine). They are, in short, Godless.
I did not find Godless a particularly good read; neither was it a bad read. Its strengths were too often offset by its weaknesses, leaving me someone ambivalent about it. If you read only a few books each year, I would not recommend making this one of them. But if the subject matter is of particular interest to you, at least Godless won’t take long to read and, regardless of your perspective on the issues, you’ll find yourself both amused and infuriated.