Robert S. McElvaine

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Robert S. McElvaine (born January 24, 1947) is professor of history and an author.


Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America (2008)[edit]

All quotes from the hardcover first edition, published by Crown Books, ISBN 978-0-307-39578-8, 1st printing
Italics as in the book

  • Here is the fundamental message of the fun-damentalists: Say “Jesus” and then you don’t have to do Jesus.
    • Chapter 1, “Easy Jesus” (p. 17)
  • Both the Christian Right and the Muslim Right condemn freedom, seek to impose rules from their highly selective reading of their holy book on everyone, believe in theocracy, want to keep women subordinated, generally oppose the modern world, believe killing “infidels” is part of God’s plan—the list of agreement goes on and on. About the only things they disagree on are what name to call the God they distort and who the infidels are.
    • Chapter 3, “For Christ’s Sake!” (p. 44)
  • Those who promote this “no faith at all” do not follow Jesus; they lead him around in directions they want to go, using him as an advertisement for their political, social, and cultural agendas, which generally run counter to his. The “Christian” Right has reduced Jesus to the ultimate celebrity endorsement.
    • Chapter 3, “For Christ’s Sake!” (p. 51)
  • America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior.
    • Chapter 3, “For Christ’s Sake!” (p. 53; quoting Bill McKibben)
  • A wonderful archbishop of Canterbury once said that it is a mistake to believe that God is chiefly, or even mainly, concerned with religion.
    • Chapter 3, “For Christ’s Sake!” (p. 53; quoting Jon Meacham)
  • It would be easy to argue on the basis of the teachings of Jesus that “Christian capitalist” is an oxymoron.
    • Chapter 4, “The Greed Creed” (p. 63)
  • News Flash: Self-indulgence is not what Jesus taught.
    • Chapter 4, “The Greed Creed” (p. 69)
  • Actually, though, there is an all-out war on Christianity under way. Its generals include—in addition to Coulter and, prior to his dishonorable discharge from the Army of ChristianityLite, Haggard, and, until his death, Jerry Falwell—Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and the whole Unheavenly Host of televangelists and megachurch moneychangers posing as preachers who have expropriated the moral assets of Jesus and turned them to their own purposes and their own profit. They never met a dollar they didn’t like. They prefer profits to prophecy and pretend that Jesus did, too. They favor the rich over the poor and invert Jesus to contend that he did, too. They favor war over peace and lie by saying that Jesus did, too. Thus do they make war on Jesus while disingenuously complaining that others are making war on Christianity.
    • Chapter 4, “The Greed Creed” (p. 72)
  • They are so certain that they know God’s mind because they equate their own minds with that of God.
    • Chapter 4, “The Greed Creed” (p. 75)
  • Much as the Nazis created an “Aryan Jesus” because the real Semitic Jesus was not to their liking, the Lite Christians have created an American Jesus or a Muscular Jesus or a Consumerist Jesus because they don’t like the real nonviolent/turn-the-other-cheek/love-your-enemy/meek-shall-inherit-the-earth/easier-for-a-camel-to-go-through-the-eye-of-a-needle-than-for-a-rich-man-to-enter-heaven/drive-the-moneychangers-from-the-temple Jesus. They simply re-create Jesus in their own image.
    • Chapter 6, “Well, Then Jesus Was Wrong!” (p. 101)
  • Jesus’ strong declaration against divorce notwithstanding, marriages in the United States break up at a greater rate (more than 50 percent) than they do in secular Europe (around 40 percent). Divorce rates within the United States are higher in the so-called “red states,” which usually vote Republican and have a higher percentage of Lites in their populations, than they are in the “blue states,” where Xians generally comprise a smaller percentage of the population.
    • Chapter 6, “Well, Then Jesus Was Wrong!” (p. 101)
  • That is the essence of ChristianityLite. Its standard for what to take literally from a putatively inerrant Bible boils down to this: Anything that doesn’t seem too difficult is to be taken literally. The rest of it? Give me a break! All that stuff about turning the other cheek and loving our enemies and being nonviolent and helping the poor—some damned liberal subversive must have sort of, like, infiltrated that stuff into the Bible, you know?
    • Chapter 6, “Well, Then Jesus Was Wrong!” (pp. 102-103)
  • The most important function in the Bush presidency was the spreading of fear.
    • Chapter 8, “Jesus W. Christ!” (p. 154)
  • Jesus was always engaged in what “conservatives” and XL people castigate as “class warfare.” And the self-described Christians of XL are almost always on the side fighting against Jesus.
    • Chapter 9, “Waiting for Righty” (p. 163)
  • “Economic conservatives,” Kevin Phillips notes, “often warm to sects in which a preoccupation with personal salvation turns lower-income persons away from distracting visions of economic and social reform.”
    • Chapter 9, “Waiting for Righty (pp. 169-170)
  • Of all the multitude of threats in the world today, the greatest peril comes from religious fanatics who believe that a violent, vindictive god is on their side.
    • Chapter 10, “War is Heaven?” (p. 189)
  • Science follows evidence; political science follows opinion; religious science follows myth and is therefore no science at all.
    • Chapter 11, “Unintelligent Design” (p. 216)

External links[edit]

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