In This Review

C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy
C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy
By Jeff Sharlet
Little, Brown and Company, 2010, 352 pp

Sharlet believes that a well-organized and well-funded fundamentalist conspiracy poses a clear and present danger to American freedoms and institutions; his occasionally gripping but often incoherent book shows him grappling with this concern. C Street takes readers from the halls of Congress to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and the hotels of Uganda to show the vast conspiracy at work. Sharlet puts his finger on some troubling phenomena, particularly evidence of religious intolerance and indoctrination in parts of the U.S. military. But a deeper reading of Christian (and especially evangelical) history would have spared him some angst. Ever since the religious revivals of the early nineteenth century, well-connected and pious Americans have been organizing themselves to proselytize. The United States is littered with organizations once dedicated to that purpose but now used for other things (the YMCA and Oberlin College, for example), and U.S. missionaries have been engaged in the politics of the developing world for two centuries. But somehow after all these generations, the United States is not a theocracy yet, and the pluralistic country of today is substantially less vulnerable to the imposition of evangelical orthodoxy than ever before.