No Matter What You Think About The Bible In American Politics – You’re Wrong. This is one of the better books I’ve ever come across in showing just how the Bible has been debated throughout American history, from its earliest days through Trump, January 6, and even into how Biden is currently using it. And it does a phenomenal job of showing just what I said in the title here – no matter what you think you know about the Bible in American politics, no matter what you personally think about how it has been applied and should currently be applied… you’re wrong. While having perhaps a slight tinge of anti-whiteness here (in that the most heavy criticism tends to land squarely on the actions of white people), Schiess really does do quite a remarkable – and remarkably even – job of showing that no one is truly “evil” or even “uneducated” about the Bible (well, specific people in specific circumstances may be), they simply have different methods of understanding and interpreting it which lead to divergent conclusions based on both the text *and those extra-text methods*. And the sides have flipped and flopped throughout even somewhat recent American history such that neither can go more than a few decades without having to explain some prior interpretation from “their” side away.
The documentation here comes in at a slightly low yet still respectable 21%, and while Bible verses are cited throughout the text, there is no actual “prooftexting” here – verses are cited not to prove a point, but to cite which elements of which passages different groups were interpreting different ways at different points in American history.
Indeed, perhaps the only real valid complaint here is that I’m fairly certain this book could be a few times is barely 200 pages… and *still* not cover the topic in true depth. And yet, the depth it does manage to pull off in these pages is still quite remarkable indeed. Very much recommended.
This review of The Ballot And The Bible by Kaitlyn Schiess was originally written on April 21, 2023.