BAD RELIGION by Ross Douthat
Douthat shared his views on the American Christianity, i.e. Contemporary and Liberal. He shares how Christians integrated within the political arena, and it was a negative impact. Can a Politician force their Christian views and values on the country they lead?
Douthat addressed the history of Christians and their effect on political changes. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his era did not seek a political seat to change the views and laws of America. He remained a nonpolitician and addressed the equal rights issue by challenging the religious communities’ values to seek a change in the laws which resulted in the Civil Rights Movement. Billy Graham did not seek a political seat to change the hearts of Americans through the political arena to become a Christian. He created a crusade to tell the people about Jesus, and he served around the world changing lives. This is in sync with the views of the book “Changing the World” by James Hunter. Hunter stated that we must “understand the culture to understand how to change it.” 
Douthat said being a Christian in the political arena has had a negative effect on America. It is difficult for a Christian to understand God’s view of the political state of the country and humanity. One needs to consider both political parties’ views and see what is at stake. He states that it is hard for one to identify as a Christian first then a Republican or Democrat second. America is in that state now. Some of the Evangelical Republicans convince themselves that they are a Christian political party, i.e. they are the one who seeks family values. If you are a Republican, you are a Christian. Liberal Christians identify themselves as a Democrat but is challenged with the different views among the local and national party.  Author Oppenheimer in his review of this book says, “American Christianity was a uniter, not a divider. Evangelicals remained a major part of the New Deal coalition, and white pastors, even in the South, tended to be ahead of their followers on civil rights, rather than lagging behind them.”  I wonder what his view would be now on the American Christianity.
Douthat introduces writer Elizabeth Gilbert views on Christianity. She dressed her experience when she heard from God as ‘God’s voice within herself in her voice.’ She began her divine experience with God as he made his presence known to her. He shared her theological views:
- All organized religions offer only partial glimpses of the God or light of Being that all of them pursue and that the true spiritual depth must seek to experience. Go through feeling rather than reason, experience rather that dogma, a direct encounter rather that a hand-me-down revelation.
- God is everywhere and within everything, but at the same time the best way to encounter the divine is through the God within, the divinity that resides inside your very self and soul.
- God’s all-encompassing nature means that sin and death and evil-or what seem like sin and death and evil will ultimately be reconciled rather than defeated.
- The Beatitude is still available. “God is right here, right now” and eternity can be entered at any moment by any person who understands how to let go, let God, and let themselves be washed away in love. (216)
He touched on different Christian presentations, for example, prosperity preaching. He has an issue with Joel Osteen who is more of a motivational (as some would say, feel good) preacher. I would not group him with prosperity. In his bias statement, he persists to believe that Osteen is a prosperity preacher but cannot support that he has ever preached as one. Rather he says that he is indirectly preaching in that matter. There are many pastors one could label a prosperity preacher. Osteen is not one. He has also included Joyce Meyers in that category of prosperity preaching. I find his vision tunnel, and he has little to no experience with either of these preachers. Because they are wealthy due to their teachings does not make them a prosperity preacher. How do you define a prosperity preacher? Preachers that say, “God said if you would vow or seed $1,000 and you will receive…” to me is a sign of prosperity for them and not for me.
As a Preacher, I make every effort to seek the guidance of God in what he wants me to speak on and to order my steps through the process. I want to ensure that I do not present God’s Word as alternative facts. I have have been journeying to identify my beliefs between God’s truth and religion traditions. It has been a challenging task and sometimes bringing my religion to question. For example, how many of the things I was taught and witnessed were the way of God was true?
This book is titled Bad Religion. What is Bad Religion? I define it as a misrepresentation of the facts or as “alternative facts” according to one White House Official. Douthat seems to generalize Bad Religion to include: Christians entering the political arena focused on trying to force the people they serve to follow their rules; Christians becoming contemporary rather than staying with the traditional ways, and One’s misinterpretation of the Bible. Many have supported their actions by stating “God told them to do this.” They misinterpreted the scripture to support their hatred of others. Some Christians seem to live their lives by their standards and find the scripture to support their decision rather than understanding the scripture to live their lives by. The Bad Religion has manifested its self through the current political battles in the name of God. Is America being guided by Bad Religion?
 James D. Hunter, The Change The World, (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010), 6.