Religious liberty was a hot button issue in the 2016 primary races and is sure to carry over to the general election. For millions of Americans, the so-called “first freedom” – religious freedom – is now a question mark as never before. In It’s Dangerous to Believe, Mary Eberstadt provides a hard-hitting analysis of widespread attacks by unchecked secular activists on religious institutions and activities of all kinds – including but not limited to Christian schools, colleges, charities, student organizations and clubs, individual speakers and figureheads, and more — and analyzes the dangers that runaway anti-religious animus is now inflicting on believers and society itself.
People of faith are afraid. Afraid that they will lose their jobs, their communities, and their basic freedoms, just because of their beliefs. They fear that religious universities and colleges will capitulate to the demands of secularism, or retreat, and be stripped to the bone. They fear that their children will be ostracized, shunned, and unable to keep or pass on their beliefs, because the costs of professing traditional Christianity, Judaism, or any other faith will have become socially or financially prohibitive. They fear that they won’t be able to maintain operations that help the sick and feed the hungry.
Is this what we want America to be?
Journalist, scholar and novelist Mary Eberstadt has been praised as “one of the most creative and acute social observers of our time” by Francis Fukuyama, and as “intimidatingly intelligent” by George Will. With this book, she takes an unflinching and powerfully argued position: that believers do not deserve the calumny and discrimination many now face; and that it’s up to reasonable people on all sides to empathize with people who are being wronged, and to dissociate themselves from such injustices. Her book appeals to all men and women of good will to acknowledge that today’s intolerance towards Christians has already gone too far. It is also meant to spark second thoughts in the minds of the new anti-faith inquisitors by comparing their scorched-earth campaign against believers to the McCarthyite red scare of the 50s, the Salem witch trials, and other historical outbreaks of collectivist unreason.
Religious belief — and religious believers — are being aggressively pushed out of public life by concerted secularist campaigns. As Eberstadt reveals in It’s Dangerous to Believe, the new anti-religious intolerance is both wrong in itself, and potentially disastrous for the well-being of America’s citizens and the nation’s future. Not until men and women outside religious precincts live up to their own stated standards of tolerance can America become the inclusive society that all people of reason should want her to be.
Mary Eberstadt is an essayist and author of several influential works of non-fiction, including How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization; Adam and Eve after the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution; and Home-Alone America. Her novel The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism, has been adapted for stage and will premiere in fall 2016. She is also editor of the anthology Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys.
A frequent contributor to magazines and journals including TIME, The Wall Street Journal, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and First Things, Mrs. Eberstadt (nee Tedeschi) has also served as an editor at Policy Review, The Public Interest, and The National Interest. Previous affiliations include the Hoover Institution and the Ethics and Public Policy Center. In 2011, she founded a literary organization called the Kirkpatrick Society that mentored hundreds of women writers.
During the Reagan administration, Mrs. Eberstadt spent two years as a speechwriter to Secretary of State George Shultz. In 2014, Seton Hall University awarded Mrs. Eberstadt an honorary doctorate in humane letters. She lives in the Washington, DC area.