Created on Sunday, 22 January 2012 15:26
Written by Steve Weinberg
Columbia author addresses "vital topic" with new proofs that dispel old myths
A Christian Nation?
By David Rosman
IVC Publishing, 234 pages
IVC Publishing, 234 pages
Reviewed by Steve Weinberg
When David Rosman settled in Columbia nine years ago, he was already battling in his brain with the notion espoused by many self-proclaimed patriots that the United States of America has always been a Christian nation. To think otherwise, those patriots say, is to make a pact with the devil.
Rosman, who grew up in New York and resided for a while in Denver, found Columbia a strange place in many ways. More liberal than the rest of Missouri, to be sure, and yet filled with Christians who seemed to believe way too many negative stereotypes about non-Christian religions and about atheism.
Rather than reject the byways of Columbia, Rosman threw himself into community activity, including writing a regular column for the Columbia Missourian. At the end of the column, he describes himself as “an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.”
Disclosing his potential biases early in his self-published book, A Christian Nation? An Examination of Christian Nation Theories and Proofs, Rosman explains his Jewish heritage, his education in engineering at a Jesuit campus (St. Louis University), his atheism, and his Unitarian affiliation.
In his effort to appear unbiased while trying to understand the origins of the clearly misguided dogma about the USA as a Christian nation, Rosman reached out to the true believers, asking them to submit proof to back their theory.
The conversation about the intersection of religion and politics is not new; as Rosman explains, it has been going on since at least since the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. The intensity seems to have picked up, though, in the wake of September 11, 2001. The stereotyping of Muslims (and by extension, other non-Christians) has slid into hatred and violence by nationalist Christians who presumably are supposed to eschew hatred and condemn violence.
Rosman unfolds his polemic in a largely chronological manner, citing varieties of Colonial thought imported from Europe, through the beliefs of the so-called Founding Fathers all the way to contemporary times. He knows he cannot prove that the USA was never a Christian nation.
Rosman can and does demonstrate, however, that all the “evidence” allegedly supporting the Christian nation theory is flawed.
The polemic would carry more power than it does if Rosman wrote better. Unfortunately, his sentences, while understandable, are often clunky and rarely compelling. The editing (grammar, spelling, punctuation, flow from paragraph to paragraph) is embarrassing, as is unfortunately true for the vast majority of self-published books I have reviewed. So, reader beware.
But the editing is no reason to avoid reading this book by an earnest local author addressing a vital topic.
Steve Weinberg is a magazine writer and author of eight nonfiction books who also teaches magazine feature reporting and critical reviewing at the University of Missouri Journalism School, where he received undergraduate and graduate degrees. He has also written book reviews for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star.
David Rosman has been traveling the nation doing talks and interviews about A Christian Nation? Catch up with him at InkAndVoice Communications.