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February 04, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE BIBLE TELLS THEM SO: Uses and Abuses of Holy Scripture by Jim Hill & Rand Cheadle (Anchor: $12.95; 155 pp., illustrated, paperback original). Drawing on written and broadcast sources, the authors demonstrate how the Bible has been used throughout American history to bolster political ideologies. Both sides referred to the Bible in the debates over slavery and temperance, as do both sides in the abortion controversy. Biblical arguments have been used to limit intellectual freedom and to restrict the rights of ethnic minorities, Catholics, women and gays. Statements by early politicians promoting Sunday blue laws sound quaint, but recent pronouncements by presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan ("Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity") and Lou Sheldon of the Coalition for Family Values ("We are the keepers of what is right and what is wrong") are unsettling. Hill and Cheadle demonstrate that it's not only the devil who can cite scripture for his purpose.

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