Book Description, Table of Contents, Book Reviews


Rights, Liberties, and Social Justice:

How America Lost Its Moral Authority

The Ethics and Politics of Science and Religion, Abortion, Intelligent Design, Women's Rights,     and the Separation between Church and State

Monsignor John W. Sweeley, Th.D.

425 pages including notes, bibliography, index

This book documents from the point of view of Liberal Catholicism why the position of the Religious-Right, Tea Party, and Republican Party are wrong on abortion, birth control, homosexuality, immigration, women's healthcare, and poverty   

A book every American needs to read

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Book Description  

This book is a must read for anyone dismayed at the entrenched politics of the Religious-Right, Neoconservatives, Tea Partiers, the Republican Party, and their assault on the Constitutional separation between Church and State. That is becasue today America is in crisis, not from the threat of an external nation or even Islamic Terrorism, but rather the threat posed by America's Radical Right-Wing that has hijacked both what it means to be Christian in America and America itself. Rather than becoming enmeshed in "below the waist' issues of human sexuality as does the Radical Right-Wing, God asks us to offer unconditional love to one another.


Chapter 1

The Radical Religious-Right: 

Who are they? What do they want? Why are they wrong?

   Rise of the Religious-Right

   The Political and Religious Right

   The Rise of the Radical Religious-Right

   World-View of the Radical Religious-Right

   Pope John Paul II's Error

   Fruits of the Radical Religious-Right

   Abortion in Judaism

   Reciprocity of Consciences

Chapter 2

Bozo and the Theologian: 

A Dialogue on the Separation between Church and State

   Now I Sit Me Down to School

   Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Ezra Stiles Ely

   Mason Weems, Life of Washington

   Joel Barlow, Treaty of Tripoli

   John Adams: Letter to Thomas Jefferson

   Thomas Jefferson, Interpretation of the First Amendment

   James Madison, Against Religious Assessments

   Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr

   Dr. Priestley, On Benjamin Franklin

   Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

   Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography

   Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

   Al Franken, Supply Side Jesus

Chapter 3

Walking the Pilgrim's Path: 

Peace and Justice on Our Journey

   Critique of the Social and Political Agenda of the Radical Religious-Right


        Understanding Peace and Justice

        The Environment

        The Oppression of Women



Chapter 4

Intelligent Design: 

The Wolf of Evangelical Faith Beliefs in Sheep's Clothing

   The Apostolic Age to Evolution


       The Development of Christianity

       The Enlightenment

       The Science of Evolution

Chapter 5

Intelligent Design: 

The Wolf of Evangelical Faith Beliefs in Sheep's Clothing

   Why Intelligent Design is not Science


        The Problem with Creationism

        Intelligent Design

        Evolutionary Creation

        The Problem with Intelligent Design


        Why Intelligent Design is not Science

Chapter 6

The Radical Religious-Right's Homophobia: 

Biblical Inerrancy and Natural Law Run Amuck

   Matthew 25:31-45

   The Radical Religious-Right's Homophobia

   Jesus on Homosexuality

   Historical Judaism on Homosexuality

   Exegesis of Leviticus 18, 20, and Deuteronomy 23

   Reform Judaism on Homosexuality

   The Fruit of Chessed is Justice

   Informed Conscience and the Radical Religious-RIght

Chapter 7

The Catholic Argument in Support of Abortion:

Obedience v. Informed Conscience

   Historical and Catholic Understanding of Life, Ensoulment, and Licitness of Abortion

        Responses to Magisterial Teaching


              Informed Conscience

       When Human Life Begins

              Historical Views

              In Antiquity

              In Judaism

              In the Roman Catholic Church

Chapter 8

The Catholic Argument in Support of Abortion:

Obedience v. Informed Conscience

   Scientific Theory, Conscience, and Canon Law

        Genetic View

        Neurological View

             Movie: The Silent Scream

        Ecological/Technological View

   Informed Conscience

        Historical Views

        In Antiquity

        In Judaism

        In Early Christianity

        In the Roman Catholic Church

        Final Arbiter of Moral Decision Making and Action

        Principle of Proportionality


   Roman Catholic Theology on Abortion

        General Principles of Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion

        Doctrine of Probabilism

   Canon Law

        Canons and Exegesis

        The Code of Canon Law and Pro-Choice Catholics

        Summary of General Principles

Chapter 9

Moral Values Below the Waist  Versus:

The Immorality of Poverty

     America at War with Itself

     God's Love, the Poor, and the Church

          Insights from the Early Church

          Insights from the Protestant Community

          Insights from the Catholic Community

     Agents of Poverty

     Follow the Money

     The Minimum Wage

          Gross National Product Versus Poverty Net Wage


     Republican Economic Theory

         Corporate Greed and Arrogance

         The Automobile Industry

         Caterpillar Corporation

         The Oil Industry

         Gas Royalties

         Not-for Profit Sector Greed and Arrogance

Chapter 10

Moral Values Below the Waist versus: 

The Immorality of the Assault on Women's Health Care

     The State of America's Health Care

     Mr. Bush's Lopsided Health Care Plan

     The Convoluted Cost of Cancer Drugs

     Radical Religious-Right's Faith Beliefs' Impact on Health Care

         Abstinence-Only-Before-Marriage Sex Education

         SIECUS Special Report on Abstinence-Only-Before-Marriage Sex Education Curricula                           Guidelines

         Abstinence-Only-Before-Marriage Programs do not Work

         The Religious-Right's Opposition to HPV Vaccination

         Faith-Based Initiative Programs Impact on Women's Health Care

Chapter 11

American Fascism: 

America not so Beautiful

     The Purveyors of Tyranny

         American Fascism

         Mussolini's 12 Articles of Fascism

         Lawrence Britt's 14 Articles of America's Fascism

     The Emperor Without Any Clothes

Book Reviews

For anyone who loves freedom and democracy, for anyone concerned with the future of our children and the world, Rights, Liberties, and Social Justice: How America Lost Its Moral Authority must be an integral part of their "survival kit'.

Most Rev. Daniel Dangaran, D. Min.

Monsignor Sweeley's book, Rights, Liberties, and Social Justice: How America Lost Its Moral Authority is a must-read for those of us dismayed at the entrenched politics of the Neoconservative Movement and their assault on the constitutional separation between church and state.

Most Rev. Janet Sunderland, D.D.

Father Sweeley's book supports freedom of individual conscience and freedom of worship. However, the goal of the Radical Religious-Right to remake America into a theocracy undermines the right of all citizens to live in an America as created by the Founding Fathers with a wall of separation between Church and state. 

This book is a thorough and informative discussion of America's religious and political moral issues.

Most. Rev. Richard Alston Gundry, D.D.

Presiding Archbishop Emeritus

Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch

I found every chapter in John W. Sweeley's, Rights, Liberties, and Social Justice: How America Lost its Moral Authority enormously useful when it comes to social justice theory. Since theory is my personal playground in social justice scholarship, this book is excellent for me and for my colleagues as well.

Throughout this book, Dr. Sweeley's major strength is his ability to separate theology and present political power from texts of divine revelation. He completes a picture of resistance to the Religious Right that has been mysteriously incomplete until now.

Consider the first chapter of this book. It is fantastic! it is the best discussion of how biblical religion has considered abortion as acceptable that I have every seen; maybe that has been written in over a decade. This chapter needs to get into the hands of feminists and labor movement activists as soon as possible. Right now, secular movements are in heated debate with religious movements to ban abortion again. Their arguments do  not meet each other in the mainstream media. Imagine the activist networks that could be created with the political power to affirm reproductive rights and the basic principles of distributive justice reproduction is connected to if these secular movements had access to Dr. Sweeley's no-nonsense, articulate argument, and the examples he gives.

Here is the strength of his argument about homosexuality. The "don't ask; don't tell" paragraph does something wonderful. The line between tolerance and acceptance is thin but very, very, discrete. People who tolerate homosexuality do so in order to deny the legitimacy of the lives of their family and friends who are gay. Acceptance means building a community based on love. What Dr. Sweeley does is to blur the line between tolerance and acceptance. This is important and a gem to find. Shifting from a society of toleration to a society of acceptance is an almost impossible task, and the first step in definitely demonstrating that the line can be blurred. 

This book offers knowledge and hope to the leaders of youthful ministries that are about to embark on life-long, serious commitments to social change. Moreover, active feminists and members of progressive labor will learn new ways of thinking about social injustice, based on a critical reading of the wide difference between the power wielded over Christian voters vs. the power of Christian argument.

I would like a copy of Dr. Sweley's, Rights, Liberties, and Social Justice: How America Lost its Moral Authority to go next to Lewis Lapham and Earl Shorris on my bookshelf.

Terry Trowbridge, Ph. D.

Social Justice and Equity Studies

Brock University


Msgr. Sweeley issues a clarion call to return to reasoned political debate, discourse, and governance that have been stifled in the USA. He reminds us of the traditional ethical and moral values espoused by the founders of a secular nation and  illuminates condemnatory religious, political, and social issues including the exercise of one's informed conscience, creationism, and intelligent design. The reader is challenged to recapture the spirit of the country's Founders who loved liberty and sough to escape intolerance.

This book is a must read for any American who's lost the ability to extend reciprocity of conscience or doubt their own infallibility.

Ann Wilmer, M.A.

Journalist, Teacher, Activist

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