Our Democracy Imperiled: ‘Must Read’

Edd Doerr, Albert Menendez

Democracy in America is under increasing threat, just as it is in Brazil, India, and many other countries.

Voter suppression. Gerrymandering. Shrinkage of responsible mainstream print and electronic news media. Expansion of extremist religio-political media. A Senate that is stacked to favor less populous over more populous states. A faulty electoral college that allowed a minority of voters to put in the White House an ignorant, arrogant, immoral, lying, wishy-washy, uninformed, reckless, theocratic, plutocratic, authoritarian, pathological, narcissist, buffoon.

Accelerating climate change, with all its vast array of components/concomitants, endangering our whole planet but not overcoming the lassitude of most politicians. The attacks on the public schools that serve 90 percent of our kids. Our infrastructure crumbling. Inequality growing. Inadequate education in civics, science, and history. Blatant attacks on religious liberty and rights of conscience on reproductive health issues.

The rise of the religious and political Right during the 1970s is beautifully spelled out in veteran journalist Anne Nelson’s important new book titled Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right (Bloomsbury, 2019). Nelson well covers the history of the religious Right and the financial-conservative movement to a degree not reached by anyone else. The book is the first and most complete examination of the right-wing movement; it is well documented with 1,102 footnotes. It cannot be praised too highly.

Weltanschauung Worldview Cooperation

In 1966, I joined the staff of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) and eventually became editor of its journal, Church and State. I was recruited for the job by AU staffer Gaston Cogdell, who happened to be a conservative Protestant minister. We understood each other’s worldview and religion, but that did not interfere with what turned out to be a long-term friendship and partnership.

My point is that people do not have to have the same general worldview to cooperate. With Trumpism on the increase, with all its challenges to religious liberty, separation of church and state, women’s rights, public education, and the like, those of us who share common values can, should, and must work together. Of course, we cannot and must not line up with such sleazy “atheists” as the late economist Milton Friedman, whose views on public education match those of Trump, Pence, and the despicable Betsy DeVos.

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A Tribute to Edd Doerr by Albert J. Menendez

Edd Doerr and I have been friends and colleagues for nearly fifty years. From him I learned just about everything I know about journalism and the importance of fact-based and credible research.

Working together was a joy and pleasure (though we vigorously disagreed at times!).

His work ethic was unsurpassed. When he had a heart attack in 1976, he was right at it, finishing and editing articles from his hospital bed.

As founder and director of Americans for Religious Liberty from 1982 until we were forced to close shop for financial reasons in 2016, he was continually on the go as editor, columnist, and speaker.

His hobby was writing letters to the editor, mostly on church-state issues. More than 50,000 letters were published in hundreds of publications from the 1950s until the present.

Together and singly, we wrote more than fifty published books and reviewed over 1,000 others.

This longtime champion of separation of church and state and religious liberty will long be remembered, especially as this country sinks deeper into a new Dark Age.

I am proud to have known him.

Edd Doerr

Edd Doerr is a senior editor of Free Inquiry. He headed Americans for Religious Liberty for thirty-six years and is a past president of the American Humanist Association.

Albert Menendez

Albert J. Menendez is the editor of Voice of Reason, the quarterly journal of Americans for Religious Liberty (www.arlinc.org) and author or coauthor of forty-one books, including The Perot Voters and the Future of American Politics, Evangelicals at the Ballot Box, The December Wars, and John F. Kennedy: Catholic and Humanist, published by Prometheus Books.


Democracy in America is under increasing threat, just as it is in Brazil, India, and many other countries. Voter suppression. Gerrymandering. Shrinkage of responsible mainstream print and electronic news media. Expansion of extremist religio-political media. A Senate that is stacked to favor less populous over more populous states. A faulty electoral college that allowed a …

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