Fast forward to . . . whenever. The Religious Right has won. Ten years earlier Congress had passed the CHRIST Act, which declared Christianity as the official religion of the United States of America. “The Twenty-Eighth Amendment, which repealed part of the First Amendment, made it possible for Congress to establish the National Church of Christ,” formed by merging all Christian denominations. It’s illegal to profess any other faith. The flag the country now flies resembles the old one but with a white cross instead of stars. And almost everyone carries a gun.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Anyone who fails to demonstrate enthusiasm for the new order is welcomed into one of the many Savior Camps scattered across the land—camps reminiscent of you-know-what. So, it’s shocking for one of the country’s most powerful senior government officials to discover his best friend, the chief sponsor of the CHRIST Act when in Congress, hanging from a rafter in Camp Glorious Rebirth. Suicide, which is, strictly speaking, a hanging offense.
So begins American Judas, Mickey Dubrow’s satirical take on a future in which the Religious Right has gained control of the American government. A dystopian tale in the classic mode, the story is hilarious when it isn’t deeply disturbing.
American Judas by Mickey Dubrow (2018) 344 pages ★★★★★
Seth Ginsburg isn’t adjusting well to the new regime
Seth Ginsburg “had lost count of the number of times he’d heard TV pundits argue over which firearm Jesus would have preferred.” And, truth to tell, he’s become disenchanted with life under the Christianity he’d been forced to profess. Like a handful of other converted Jews, he’s joined an underground synagogue. They hold services in a large, windowless conference room on the seventh floor of a deserted office building whenever they can form a minyan.
Seth’s wife, Maggie Ginsburg, is furious. She tells him, “I was Catholic. We invented religious persecution.” She knows that Hedge Protection—the renamed Department of Homeland Security—will banish him to a Savior Camp . . . if he’s lucky. (“Hedge Protection?” It’s based on Job 1:10: “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?“) And they’re both terrified that the Federal Faith Verification case worker who pops in on them periodically will find out and report him. They’re already in trouble because they haven’t produced any children.
The “most righteous nation in history”
Seth is the main speechwriter for Senator Sam Owens, a preacher from Tennessee. The senator’s chief of staff, Reginald Cooke, is his closest colleague in the office. Reggie is gay, and he lives under constant fear that Hedge Protection will find out. Both of them had been on the staff of Chip Randall, the late Congressman who wrote the CHRIST Act. The act’s tenth anniversary is now approaching and the inevitable nationwide celebration. So the announcement by Federal Deacon Freeman Wingard, the head of Hedge Protection, that his old friend Chip had committed suicide had raised eyebrows in the senator’s office and all across the country. “Reporters were going to demand that he either confirm or deny that one of the architects of the Greatest Awakening was in Hell.” So it goes in the “greatest, most righteous nation in the world, in all of history.”
Recently my wife and I traveled to Europe on a group tour. One of our fellow passengers showed up one day wearing a sweatshirt that announced “I love God. I love guns.” I could hardly keep from laughing. Yet it’s not at all a laughable matter. Mickey Dubrow reminds us it’s not—and he makes us laugh a lot in the process. God forbid we should actually wake up some day and find that the Religious Right has won.
About the author
Mickey Dubrow writes on his author website that he “is passionate about telling stories with fresh, entertaining perspectives. He wants readers to feel excitement, sympathy, amusement, joy, and maybe even a little anxiety when they read his novels. In American Judas, he explores, among other possibilities, lost faith in America and what this might mean for the freedoms we cherish so much. As a freelance writer and producer for television, Mickey’s clients include CNN, Cartoon Network Marketing, and SRA/McGraw Hill.”
For more reading
The classic dystopian novel about the ascendancy of the Religious Right in America is, of course, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve reviewed that extraordinary book at Reading “The Handmaid’s Tale” in the Age of Trump.
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