Letter to a Christian Nation

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Sam Harris

September, 2006

From Knopf/Vintage:

In response to The End of Faith, Sam Harris received thousands of letters from Christians excoriating him for not believing in God. Letter to A Christian Nation is his reply. Using rational argument, Harris offers a measured refutation of the beliefs that form the core of fundamentalist Christianity. In the course of his argument, he addresses current topics ranging from intelligent design and stem-cell research to the connections between religion and violence. In Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris boldly challenges the influence that faith has on public life in our nation. In his “Note to the Reader,” he writes:

Forty-four percent of the American population is convinced that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead sometime in the next fifty years. According to the most common interpretation of biblical prophecy, Jesus will return only after things have gone horribly awry here on earth. It is, therefore, not an exaggeration to say that if the city of New York were suddenly replaced by a ball of fire, some significant percentage of the American population would see a silver lining in the subsequent mushroom cloud, as it would suggest to them that the best thing that is ever going to happen was about to happen—the return of Christ. It should be blindingly obvious that beliefs of this sort will do little to help us create a durable future for ourselves—socially, economically, environmentally, or geopolitically. Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U.S. government actually believed that the world was about to end and that its ending would be glorious. The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this, purely on the basis of religious dogma, should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency.The book you are about to read is my response to this emergency…

I dare you to read this book…it will not leave you unchanged. Read it if it is the last thing you do.

It’s a shame that not everyone in this country will read Sam Harris’ marvelous little book. They won’t, but they should.

Sam Harris’s elegant little book is most refreshing and a wonderful source of ammunition for those who, like me, hold to no religious doctrine. Yet I have some sympathy also with those who might be worried by his uncompromising stance. Read it and form your own view, but do not ignore its message.

If you believe in a religion, even the mildest form of Christianity, please read this book. It won’t take you long, but it might change your mind.

Sam Harris is a brave, intelligent, clear-sighted author whose brilliant essay should be read by every adult who has ever believed that a religious faith can solve the world’s problems.

Sam Harris fearlessly describes a moral and intellectual emergency precipitated by religious fantasies. It is a relief that someone has spoken so frankly, with such passion yet such rationality. Now when the subject arises, as it inevitably does, I can simply say: Read Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation.

Read this book and decide your stance for the future

I can’t sign my name to this blurb. As a New York Times best selling author of books about business, my career will evaporate if I endorse a book that challenges the deeply held superstitions and bigotry of the masses. That’s exactly why you should (no, you must) read this angry and honest book right away. As long as science and rational thought are under attack by the misguided yet pious majority, our nation is in jeopardy. I’m scared. You should be too. Please buy two, one for you and one for a friend you care about.

This combination of ruthless argument with polemic designed to provoke (he describes the Catholic Church as the “institution that has produced and sheltered an elite army of child-molesters”) will further delight Harris’ supporters and infuriate his critics.

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