Faith in the Halls of Power, By Michael Lindsay
Allies for Armageddon, By Victoria Clark
The Fall of the House of Bush, By Craig Unger

With God on their side?

In the controversial Christmas television advert of Republican presidential candidate and Iowa caucus victor Mike Huckabee, a glowing white cross appeared to float across the screen. He insisted it was a bookcase, while his detractors accused the evangelical Christian of sending a subliminal message that if he is elected, God will be in the White House. We are told in Michael Lindsay's Faith in the Halls of Power that such methods are known as "signalling". The message is subtle, but it is "strong to those who can hear it." Put another way it is "dog-whistle politics", which work on two levels, meaning one thing to the public while having a special significance to core religious voters.

For the first time in a generation, the potent mix of politics and religion is at the forefront of a presidential campaign thanks to Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, and the Mormon Republican Mitt Romney, second to John McCain in New Hampshire. Fundamentalists are a force to be reckoned with, and in the coming months the white evangelicals who make up a quarter of the electorate will have an opportunity to help propel a favoured candidate into the White House.

Their "End Times" ideology, based on biblical prophecy, remains astonishingly current in America. It has been given fresh impetus by the events of 11 September 2001 and the fiery declarations of President Ahmadinejad of Iran, which is forging ahead with its nuclear programme. In 2004, 55 per cent of Americans said they believed in the Rapture, the moment when Christ scoops up believers to save them before the apocalyptic confrontation of Armageddon.

These timely books provide invaluable context to the 2008 election, scrutinising the relationship between the White House and the bible-bashers, the rise of the evangelical movement and the strange alliance between America's Christian Zionists and the Israeli extreme right. There is a single conclusion to be drawn from all three: be afraid, be very afraid.

Lindsay's insider's view describes how the evangelical Christians moved into the mainstream by stealth. He examines the sophisticated networking that has put "God in the Quad" in academia, into the management of top companies, and even into Hollywood, although he acknowledges that the evangelicals have still not broken into its "inner circle". Above all, thanks to interviews with hundreds of evangelical Christians in leadership positions, he looks at how the religious right took over the Republican Party and the White House.

It is not the first time in a presidential campaign that God has had a walk-on role. But it could be the first time that secular America has noticed. The network of "born again" Christians, harnessed by Huckabee now, surprised the secular liberal media in 1988 when televangelist Pat Robertson managed a strong second-place behind Bob Dole and ahead of George HW Bush, although the latter went on to win the White House. The faith-based presidency of his son George, who struggled to win back the religious conservatives, became the most evangelical in recent memory.

It was president Bush's (non-evangelical) adviser Karl Rove who masterminded his boss's 2004 re-election by successfully appealing to religious conservatives, who mobilised thanks to the insertion of gay marriage as an issue on ballots in critical states.

If a Republican goes on to victory in this election it will be thanks to the legions of fundamentalist Christians. Lindsay's insightful book is strong on the links between American society, politics and religion. But it neglects foreign-policy aspects, particularly the role of the evangelical Christians in Sudan and their influence in persuading the administration to link sexual abstinence to Aids funding.

Foreign policy is at the heart of Victoria Clark's Allies for Armageddon, which considers the influence of Christian Zionism on the Christian right and Middle East policy. In 2002, when George Bush protested against Ariel Sharon's blockade of Yasser Arafat in his Ramallah bunker, 100,000 emails organised by the fundamentalist Baptist leader Rev Jerry Falwell ensured that the president did not repeat a command to halt the operation.

From the outset, Clark stakes out her position as an outsider, a "liberal, secular humanist relativist". For the fundamentalists she meets, she represents the enemy, along with the Antichrist, Darwinists, the United Nations and the EU. Clark unpicks the contradictions in the relationship between the Christian and Jewish Zionists, tracing the roots of the movement for the return of Jews to their homeland to 17th-century Britain.

US Christian Zionists share with Israeli hawks a vision of a Greater Israel (Benyamin Netanyahu assiduously courted this constituency) and the rejection of a Palestinian state. But at the same time, they are accused of anti-Semitism: a key plank of their belief is for the mass conversion of the Jews to Christianity. Both Clark and Craig Unger, in The Fall of the House of Bush, pepper their accounts with anecdotes which give the bible-bashers plenty of rope to hang themselves. But the focus of Unger's book, coming after his succès de scandale with House of Bush, House of Saud, is the "counter-narrative" of the Bush presidency. Although he covers much of the same ground as Clark and Lindsay, Unger also examines the build-up to the Iraq war to demonstrate the disastrous consequences of faith-based intelligence, as practised by the ideologically-motivated White House.

Much of this will be familiar to British readers exposed to the Hutton and Butler inquiries on the Iraq fallout. But in the light of Tony Blair's conversion to Catholicism after leaving office, these books leave you thinking about Alastair Campbell's memorable words about the then prime minister's faith: "We don't do God."

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada