To sum up, in the introduction Carter says that our nation has years of admirable achievements and a history of open debate - which is all being ruined by religious and political fundamentalists. He says a few other things, but that's his basic thesis. Hopefully in the following chapters he'll tell us how to deal with that.
Some passages that struck me:
"Powerful lobbyists, both inside and outside of government, have distorted an admirable American belief in free enterprise into the right of extremely rich citizens to accumulate and retain more and more wealth and to pass all of it on to descendants. Profits from stock trading and income from dividends are being given privileged tax status compared to the wages earned by schoolteachers and firemen. To quote a Christian friend, the new economic philosophy in Washington is that a rising tide raises all yachts."
"As a private citizen, I will deliberately mix religion and politics in this book... I realize that may readers, even those who share a similar religious and political background, will find some of my opinions to be different from their own. Quite likely, many of them do not realize what is happening in America, and it may be beneficial to raise the issues to the level of increased debate."Next installment: Chapter One - America's Common Beliefs - And Strong Differences