Lift High the Cross

Where White Supremacy and the Christian Right Converge

Lift High the Cross

Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: Published: February 2002

Author: Ann Burlein

American Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Religious Studies

Both the Christian right and right-wing white supremacist groups aspire to overcome a culture they perceive as hostile to the white middle class, families, and heterosexuality. The family is threatened, they claim, by a secular humanist conspiracy that seeks to erase all memory of the nation’s Christian heritage by brainwashing its children through sex education, multiculturalism, and pop culture. In Lift High the Cross Ann Burlein looks at two groups that represent, in one case, the “hard” right, and in the other, the “soft” right—Pete Peters’s “Scriptures for America” and James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family”—in order to investigate the specific methods these groups rely on to appeal to their followers.
Arguing that today’s right engenders its popularity not by overt bigotry or hatred but by focusing on people’s hopes for their children, Burlein finds a politics of grief at the heart of such rhetoric. While demonstrating how religious symbols, rituals, texts, and practices shape people’s memories and their investment in society, she shows how Peters and Dobson each construct countermemories for their followers that reframe their histories and identities—as well as their worlds—by reversing mainstream perspectives in ways that counter existing power relations. By employing the techniques of niche marketing, the politics of scandal, and the transformation of political issues into “gut issues” and by remasculinizing the body politic, Burlein shows, such groups are able to move people into their realm of influence without requiring them to agree with all their philosophical, doctrinal, or political positions.
Lift High the Cross will appeal to students and scholars of religion, American cultural studies, women’s studies, sociology, and gay and lesbian studies, as well as to non-specialists interested in American politics and, specifically, the right.


"[A] penetrating and original study of the Christian Right in the United States. . . . [Burlein's] book contains an intellectual ambition and an interpretive depth that gives any scholar of religion and politics a great deal to think about." — Finbarr Curtis , Journal of Church and State

"[A]n important text that explores the ideological, theological, and biographic links between the Christian Right and white supremacy. . . ." — Mike McMullen , Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

"Burlein’s sharp insight is that the insidious politics of the racist right employs the very ideals and political rhetoric that most Americans readily embrace. . . . The power of this narrative is evident everywhere, whether in heated editorials about teaching evolution in schools or in the spectacle of congressional representatives trying frantically to be caught on television saying the Pledge of Allegiance. The familiarity of this rhetoric suggests the great strength of Burlein’s book. . . . Her work raises pointed questions about why conservative American Christians fare so poorly when it comes to racial reconciliation. . . ." — Peter Kerry Powers , Christian Century

"This is, in many ways, a fine study, and anyone interested in the American right would benefit greatly from reading it." — Martin Durham , Ethnic and Racial Studies

"This work is a creative, provocative exploration of fringe and mainstream that will long prove profitable." — R. Jonathan Moore , Journal of Religion

Lift High the Cross teaches scholars, activists, and a popular audience the all-important historical background and differences among various groups on the Right, but just as importantly, it also teaches a way of performing politics that demands both activism and thinking. This sophisticated discussion of politics, religion, and religious narratives could not be more timely, in particular because the activist left has had such a hard time grappling with religion.” — Linda Kintz, author of Between Jesus and the Market: The Emotions that Matter in Right-Wing America

“In Lift High the Cross Ann Burlein crafts fascinating case studies exploring boundaries between the Christian Right and the Extreme Right. She simultaneously shows how both ideologies intersect and share notions of a hierarchical natural order embedded in mainstream assumptions—themselves shaped by a cloaked history of cultural violence that we all share.” — Chip Berlet, coauthor of Right Wing Populism in America


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ann Burlein is Assistant Professor of Religion and Culture at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Table of Contents Back to Top
The Violence of Culture: Countermemory and Niche Marketed Masculinity
1. Countermemory, Children, and Ignorance-Power
2. Converging Case Studies: Body Politics as Brand Recognition
Christian Identity, Scriptures for America, and Pete Peters
3. Mainstream Roots
4. Biblical Memories and the Erotics of Domination: “Not Politically Correct but Biblically Correct”
5. Nichemarketing the Apocalypse: Violence as Hard-Sell
The Christian Right, Focus on the Family, and James Dobson
6. The Power of Soft-Sell Style: Building a Multimillion-Dollar Ministry by Subverting Feminism
7. Remembering the Sixties as Pop Cultural Conspiracy: “Everyone’s Best Interest Group”
8. Nichemarketing the Family Homestead: Rearticulating Mainstream Silences in the Romance of Privatism
9. The Bowl, the Crossing Point, and the Moment After
Selected Bibliography of Secondary Sources
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2864-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2837-7
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