Deal Hudson’s new book Onward, Christian Soldiers is not well served by its title. Hudson is not militant and his book is not a bible thumper. Hudson has written a book as versatile as its author.
Reflecting over 50 interviews of the opinion leaders of the conservative movement, and containing responses to leading voices of the Religious Left, the book is a work of journalism. It paints a political portrait of America on the eve of the most pivotal presidential election regarding the two issues that matter most to conservatives: national security and the Supreme Court. Hudson offers evidence more than advice, useful to both the campaign of John McCain, needing to understand the mind and culture of committed voters of faith, and to Democrats, newly eager to gain the favor of this vital demographic.
Hudson also lays out fair warning to both. He reminds each that Americans of faith rallied to Ronald Reagan over an Evangelical Jimmy Carter not just for the ideology Reagan favored but because of the liberal cultural transformation he stood firmly against.
I admit to being drawn to the chapter entitled “Hello, This is Karl Rove.” But it is the chapters before and after that are worth the purchase. Hudson has written the first comprehensive history of the political impact of religious conservatives and the emergence of the Religious Right in a way that only a Thomist philosopher, turned Catholic magazine publisher, turned Republican political outreach leader could do. The book is surprising in its completeness; merging causational analysis and history at the start with contemporary politics at the end.
In a way that perhaps only an evangelical Southern Baptist turned orthodox Catholic could do, Hudson understands and lays out the causes for the overwhelming coalescing of Evangelical voters under the Republican banner, and joins to this a revealing history of Catholic influence on public policy in modern times, including the foreign policy of Ronald Reagan, and especially in the formation of the Religious Right, widely perceived as a solely Evangelical movement.
Most significantly, in the wake of a large cottage industry of books attacking and caricaturing religious conservatives and heralding the collapse of the Religious Right and a new liberal appeal to believers, Hudson lays out the first reasoned rebuttal to the Religious Left in its tireless effort to defend liberal politicians from the demands of authentic Christian humanism, and explains why it will not succeed.
Mr. Miranda served as Catholic outreach advisor to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and as the first president of the Cardinal Newman Society for Catholic Higher Education. He was a fellow for the Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation, and is a recipient of the American Conservative Union’s Ronald Reagan Award.