Sometime in the mid 1980s, I read a novel called God’s Radar, by Fran Arrick. It was about a teenaged girl that moves to a southern town. Her parents get sucked up into a megachurch, they send her to a school affiliated with the megachurch, and everything the family thinks and does is conditioned by and controlled by the church. The heroine gets a "free spirit" boyfriend who tries to save her from Being Saved by the church, and he fails. The plot of God’s Radar is sort of the reverse of that fabulous movie Saved!.
At any rate, the book really stuck with me, and I think about it often, as I watch the development of a sort of parallel religious-right universe develop, side-by-side with the world that I inhabit. It’s just the religion thing, it’s not just the politics thing, it’s everything. There’s no need to leave the church-bubble, for anything from vitamin shops to real estate agents to candles to e-cards to public relations agencies, all of which are available in Christian-owned and Christian-inspired varieties. The Christian-owned business directory industry is booming. One such directory, The Shepherd’s Guide, that says it reaches 4 million people. (I learned about these directories while I was researching an The Morality Play for Inc. just after the 2004 election, although I didn’t end up writing about it in that story.)
I thought of God’s Radar again today. I’ve been looking into the lawsuits and challenges of abstinence-only programs, and so while checking out supporters of abstinence-only, I felt like I was peering, sci-fi like, into God’s parallel universe. It has always seemed to me, for instance, that there are few things in this world less controversial than a Girl Scout. (United We Scarf Thin Mints.) But the Girl Scouts have apparently been hijacked by the forces of evil, and so Christians have created an alternative, the American Heritage Girls.
And I guess it’s not a new thing that the religious right is keen on
indoctrinating educating its future leaders. But still, I was taken aback by The Blackstone Fellowship, a program of the Alliance Defense Fund. It’s a program intended to "influence Christian law students to take their training and knowledge into positions of influence where they can bring about needed change in America’s legal system." Check out some of the testimonials from past fellows:
“The teachings were life-changing. I hadn’t realized how relativism had crept into my paradigm. How the thinking of this world had made me blasé where I should be passionately enraged. [Blackstone] informed me, equipped me, and emboldened me to live a life serving God as an attorney-warrior.”
Oh, and one more thing about God’s Radar. I’m trying to track down a copy to re-read it. Apparently, Arrick was a pseudonym, and the author also wrote well-received young-adult novels on anti-semitism, teen suicide and teen violence. I wonder who the author really is/was. Will report back if I learn more.