Strange Gods, in the end, proves more than is not only timely; we needed it, like, yesterday. Fail to understand the crisis facing separation of church and state—'a historical and a legal fact for which [the religious Right] should fall on their knees and thank their god'—and twenty-first-century America will be Alexandria all over again.
If the book’s polemical overtones rankle at times, its conclusion—that religious coercion inevitably 'produces a false uniformity that collapses as swiftly or slowly as social conditions permit'—is powerful.
Jacoby cannot admit there ever is such a thing as genuine spiritual conversion. She justifiably spends a lot of time on the crueler forms of compulsion, which recur distressingly often in history. But she thinks that all conversions are coerced, however softly or subtly.