Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture by Daniel Radosh
I picked up this book because it's tangentially related to my honors thesis topic...evangelicals in any capacity fascinate me anyway. And given that I grew up in what I've always called the area directly below the buckle of the bible belt, this is a culture not unfamiliar to me. Radosh, on the other hand, was in completely new territory. His book covers everything from the growing American obsession with virginity to Ultimate Christian Wrestling, a new one even on me. While most of the topics covered were amusing in an odd sort of way, they were also frightening as hell. Evangelicals are one of the most politically and socially vocal and active groups in the United States, as can be seen by the fairly recent Prop 8 and Amendment 2 fiascoes in California and Florida, respectively. The fact that their creeds and manifestos are slipping into everyday usage without much of anyone noticing is more than scary, it's dangerous.
Take the chapter on virginity...Radosh quotes a book by pastor Dale Conaway called Sex: The Spiritual Laws in which he calls the hymen a sacred seal put in place by God. "If the seal is broken, it can reveal an intruder was present and that product tampering may have taken place." [emphasis mine] First, a woman's body is related to a home, a structure for someone else to occupy and fill with what they see fit, and is then likened to a PRODUCT, an object to be bought and sold. Problematic does not even begin to start to maybe cover this. This is all part of the insistence on abstinence as the only option for unmarried people. It gets bizarre and even more appalling when he continues into discussion of sex ed in public schools.
We all know that the religious right has a sincere problem with anyone learning anything about sex that involves more than "don't do it", but what most don't realize is that the abstinence only groups that have won and are teaching, are handing out flawed information. A 2004 report on commonly used abstinence curricula found that 11 of 13 of them had misleading or just plain false information. Some of the insanity includes: "pornography causes brain damage and premarital sex depletes a chemical necessary for forming a permanent bond with one's spouse". The doctor that came up with that last one was appointed to run the Bush administration's women's health programs.
Definitely a worthwhile and useful read for anyone interested in evangelicals and the spread of the insanity they breed.