It can’t happen here – or is it?
Ten years after the CHRIST (Christian Households Rising in Support of Truth) Act became law, the USA is at last what the Religious Right has dreamed of – a Christian Nation. The National Church of Christ is the state religion – all others are forbidden and church attendance is mandatory.
The stars of the flag have been replaced by a cross and NPR in now NCR. (You can guess what the C stands for.) Everyone carries guns – not to do so would look suspicious. Alcohol, pornography, birth control, abortion, homosexuality are all criminalized.
State-run Savior Camps, with
Arbeit Macht Frei
Saved Though Faith over the entrance and complete with barbed wire and
armed guards, “are not just for lapsed Christians and those afflicted with the
disease of homosexuality. They also cure drug addicts, adulterers, Satan
worshippers, and Liberals.”
Seth Ginsburg, a non-observant Jew, has converted and pays lip service to the state religion in order to hold on to his job in the office of a US senator. When he receives a package containing his late father’s prayer shawl, he finds himself compelled to reclaim his heritage and join a group of Jews in their hidden worship.
Meanwhile, his wife Maggie is pressured by their Federal Faith Verification case worker to do her Christian duty and get pregnant. Because Seth is a convert, the case worker is authorized to inspect his home at any time, day or night, “to verify the authenticity” of Seth’s conversion.
Behind the scenes glimpses at corrupt politicians and faith leaders (nothing new under the sun) heighten the tension and intensify the parallels with present day.
Finally Seth is betrayed as a hidden Jew and the trials he and Maggie endure in attempting to flee to Mexico (oh, the delicious irony) take the reader even deeper into the rotten heart of the theocracy that the US has become.
This fast-moving, compelling story would have seemed over the top a few years ago. Now, alas, even the most outrageous scenes are only a few crucial votes away. At times hilarious, at time terrifying, American Judas is, ultimately, a warning.
As Mickey wrote in my copy of the novel, “Have a blessed day. Or not. It’s still your choice.”