Blogging for Theocracy
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 09:46:02 PM EST
The Chalcedon Foundation, the seminal think tank of the Christian Reconstructionist movement, founded by the late theologian of theocracy, R.J. Rushdoony has a blog - new this month.  Some of the the blog's early posts include some tart observations about Talk to Action -- and even tarter responses to John Sugg's article on Christian Reconstructionism in Mother Jones magazine. Among other things, blogger Chris Ortiz, says the article is "amateurish" -- although he does not say how.

For Talk to Action's part, he says the order of the day is "fearmongering," and and telling tales of "conspiracy" -- although Ortiz also considers me to be "a sincere analyst."  Well, I do the best I can even when fomenting fearmongering and conspiracy. Nevertheless, I think Chris is also sincere, and I appreciated his honorable retreat from the site when it was broght to his attention that it is intended for those who agree with our statement of purpose, which he clearly does not.

Chalcedon, headed by Rushdoony's son Mark Rushdoony these days, is aggressively seeking to define and to defend Reconstructionism, which has played a central role in shaping the theogy and politics of development of the Christian Right for a half-century.

Chris Ortiz is the Communications Director of Chalcedon. Like Gary North and other Reconstructionist leaders, Ortiz is seeking to distance Reconstructionism from Christian Right leaders like Pat Robertson and James Dobson, whom they see as corrupted by the GOP and the Bush administration.  This is not really surprising since R.J. Rushdoony himself was involved in the Constitution Party from its earliest days -- as are many other leading Reconstructionists to this day.  Ortiz says that Chalcedon plans to publish a series of criticisms of the Christian Right over the next year.  I will be reading them with great interest.

Meanwhile, Ortiz writes that he has been very concerned about a backlash against the theocratic movement by "the far left." He has attended two conferences on the Christian Right sponsored by the New York Open Center and the Graduate Program of the City University of New York. I was a speaker at both events and had the pleasure of meeting him at the second one.  Chris appreciates civil discourse, as do we at Talk to Action. He also respects people who seek to get their facts right; and who seek to understand rather than smear people with whom they disagree. So do we.

Nevertheless, he holds some strong views about the goings on at Talk to Action, and elsewhere. Regarding the Talk to Action's e-conference on the religious right, he writes:

It seems the order of the day is "fearmongering." Many of the essays featured by these alleged "experts" on dominionism are filled with the usual factual errors we've seen for some time -- this clearly displays the slack hand they labor with. When you make simple mistakes of basic facts it's difficult for readers to swallow your thesis.

In early October of 2004, I predicted that if Bush were to secure a second term that there would be a backlash from the far left. The reason being that progressives are convinced Bush's rise to power was in the fiery chariot of the Religious Right.

The essence of their tale of conspiracy involves a direct influence by Christian Reconstructionists on the popular pundits of the Christian Right (e.g. Falwell, Robertson, LaHaye, Dobson, Perkins, Barton, etc.). There is no doubt that multitudes have borrowed from Rushdoony, North, and Bahnsen; but you would hardly find the patriarchs of Christian Reconstruction siding with the political tactics of the Christian Right.

We should expect an increase in this progressive resistance in 2006. I suspect it will last so long as Bush is in office. My concern is the mistreatment and continued slander of R.J. Rushdoony and the message of Christian Reconstruction.

Well, one bit of friendly advice for Chris:  He should realize that many of us have been interested and concerned about these matters since long before Mr. Bush, and will continue to be interested and concerned long after he leaves office. But this, and other matters, are discussions and debates for another day.  

For today, let's welcome Chris Ortiz and Chalcedon Blog to the blogosphere.

[A version of this post appears on Political Cortex]

that Chalcedon will not be the only Christian Right agency to notice Talk to Action, and certainly the special issue of Mother Jones. It will be interesting to see what they say and how they say it.

And our talented writers will no doubt have something to say in response.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 09:49:48 PM EST

Chris Ortiz wrote:
"The progressive worldview is bankrupt in my opinion. It can tell us what it opposes but not what it seeks to build. For us, it is the systems of men that we seek to tear down, and it is the kingdom of God that we seek to build. This war is waged in the arena of ideas, and the knowledge of God is our starting point.

Progressives will continually lose the "War of Ideas" because they have no faith in a transcendent God."

Why are conservative christians like Mr Ortiz  at war with everything? Why do they just blabber things like 'progressives tell us what they oppose but not what they seek to build,' and get away with it?
Is it because it is inflammatory? Are they trying to annoy people, get a mad reaction so that they can point and say "gotcha!"?

Let's see, I am for gay marriage, Does that mean I am at 'war' with heterosexuals? Am I just waiting for those heathen sodomites to ruin marriage so I can divorce my wife?

I am for Evolution being taught in schools. Does that mean I am at 'war' with people who are somewhat less than well informed about the scientific method? Eh? Does that mean I hate Christians and their God?

I am for clean air, clean water, low prices and high wages. Does that mean I am at 'war' with polluters, price gougers and skinflints?  

Phony wars are grist for the conservative mill it seems. The last liberal war - the war on poverty - was lost when the hippie boomers gave in and the greedheads elected Ronald Reagan. What wonderful wars to which we've been treated since those heady days...

War on drugs? Lost but still going on. A little weed and you are banned for life from participating as a fully functioning human.

War on Christmas? A straw man for the O'Rielly factor to stand up after every Thanksgiving.

Culture wars? Here's a cease-fire arrangement. You can watch whatever you want on TV and I can watch whatever I want on TV and we will both be happy about what we are watching and not get mad about what the other person is watching. And just out of curiosity, why do gay people make you so mad?

War on terror? {pause to put on tinfoil hat} a right wing conspiracy to consolidate and maintain power by sewing fear and demonizing dissent.

War of Ideas? This one fairly well is just plain freaking me out. I have no idea what it even means. It seems to simply be an inflammatory phrase aimed at setting teeth on edge and the flock in a swivet. War of Ideas? How can ideas be at war? We can disagree about ideas - "Intelligent" design is an idea - it is an idea bereft of science, but it is an idea. Evolution is an idea, a very credible scientific idea that explains a lot about life on earth. But are these two ideas at war? I don't think so. Fortunately, we don't seem to be killing each other over Evolution - yet. Forcing the language of war on this old debate does nothing but promote an us against them attitude on both sides. (And cause further head scratching by nervous and befuddled allies). By all means teach "intelligent" design in a world religion survey class, and teach Darwinian Evolution in science, but don't call it a war. It degrades us all.

I am against wars on things. Let's declare Peace on Christians, Peace on Homosexuality, Peace on Drugs, Peace on Christmas (and goodwill towards other people and animals and things), Peace on Hollywood, Peace on Peas, Peace on Race and Peace on Earth.

by bybelknap on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 02:38:35 AM EST

Chris Ortiz wrote:
"The progressive worldview is bankrupt in my opinion. It can tell us what it opposes but not what it seeks to build. For us, it is the systems of men that we seek to tear down, and it is the kingdom of God that we seek to build. This war is waged in the arena of ideas, and the knowledge of God is our starting point.

Progressives will continually lose the "War of Ideas" because they have no faith in a transcendent God."

I can tell you what we seek to build in a single word: America!

The theocrats had their chance. It lasted from the dawn of recorded history till perhaps the Italian Renaissance, and most certainly the US Constitution.  What we seek to build was explained in social contract theory--a political theory justifying government from bottom up, on pragmatic secular grounds, rather than from the top down, on ideological "religious" grounds.

Such a government is perfectly hospitable to God, and believers of all stripes. The one thing it is inhospitable to is theocrats.

As explained in the Dictionary of the History of Ideas entry on Liberalism:

Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), shorter than Bayle's Commentary and more popular and less abstract than Spinoza's argument in the Tractatus, is the classical apology for liberty of conscience....

The proper business of civil government, according to Locke, is to protect and promote men's interests....

The civil magistrate has no authority from either God or man to require anyone to profess or refrain from professing a belief on the ground that it is true or false, necessary to salvation or incompatible with it. It is not for him to dispute with his subjects or to persuade them to a particular religion. Even if he could force them to adhere to it, he would not thereby save their souls, for salvation depends on a free adherence to what is true....

No belief is to be suppressed merely because it is heretical, nor any practice merely because it is offensive to God. No doubt, what is offensive to God is sinful, but what is sinful is not punishable by man. No man deserves punishment at the hands of other men, unless he has offended some man, unless he has invaded his rights.

In short, the problem with theocrats is that they are inherintly irreligious, taking God's name in vain to further their own limited impression of what constitutes His will.

Secular government simply and utterly rejects their blasphemy as a foundation for the state.  We're not the ones who hate God or religion. They are. They are the ones who build their whole world view on blasphemy.

by Paul Rosenberg on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:54:19 PM EST

What bothers me of that statement is:

"Progressives will continually lose the "War of Ideas" because they have no faith in a transcendent God."

Is Ortiz trying to claim that 100% of progressives are atheist?


by EmilyWynn8 on Fri Dec 02, 2005 at 02:08:44 PM EST

If you don't believe like them, you are incorrect and not really a believer.

It is helpful for Rev. Ortiz to make it clear for us.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Dec 02, 2005 at 08:17:41 PM EST

Pretty much that IS the insinuation, yes.

In fact, a lot of dominionist churches actually go one step further--in that any church group that is not expressly allied with them, and everyone else for that matter, is a card-carrying devil worshipper.

Yes, I'm serious.  No, I am not making this up (in the immortal words of Dave Barry).

In the worldview of churches in the dominionist movement that are into the whole "spiritual warfare" thing in particular, they quite literally divide the world into two sides--themselves and fellow dominionists as Good Guys, and everyone else as in literal league with Satan.  If you don't attend a dominionist-friendly church, you are attending a "lukewarm" church in their eyes (and this is if you're going to a moderate Protestant church) and thus "God will spit you out"; liberal churches like the Unitarians, UCC and American Friends Service Committee, as well as non-Protestant Christian traditions like Catholics and the various Eastern Rite traditions, are seen as forms of paganism and thus Satan worship (in fact, the only Friends groups that most dominionists tolerate are the Evangelical Friends International which are, for all intents and purposes, essentially "Pentecostal Friends" in that they have taken nearly all the trappings of evangelical churches and have more in common both culturally and religiously with pente/charismatic groups than with the larger Friends committee); atheism is seen as a religion in and of itself, specifically Satan worship; Jews are tolerated as one of "God's chosen people" but are still going to hell unless they convert to "Messianic Judaism" and become kosher pentes (and this presumably applies to the Samaritans as well); other Abrahamic faiths (Islam/Bahai/Druze/etc.) are all condemned as forms of devil worship and specifically as "mockeries of the gospel by Satan"; all non-Christian, non-Jewish faiths are condemned as devil worship (including Deism) and even being an agnostic is considered devil worship.

People who walk away from the group are especially condemned--in these churches it is explicitly taught that people who leave or criticise the church are committing blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and thus committing the one sin God will not pardon.  (Seeing as that entire verse was referring to claiming that the acts of Jesus were the result of a literal bargain with Beelzebub--not merely walking away or criticising--this gives you an example of the sorts of "scripture twisting" that go on.)

Being a good dominionist isn't a total escape from things, either.  Among other things, being gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered (either being actively gay, or even acknowledging the possibility that one may be gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered) is considered a form of devil worship and people who leave as a result of "reparative therapy" not working are considered to have "rejected Jesus"--in fact, gay people are rarely referred to as gay but as "Sodomites" (even though the actual sin of Sodom was violation of the laws of hospitality, not homosexuality); people who have abortions (or even use certain forms of birth control such as the IUD (which prevents implantation and fertilisation) and both the pill and Plan B (which prevent fertilisation, and may prevent implantation) are considered to have engaged in "Molech worship" (specifically referring to the sacrifice of children to a Babylonian deity in the Old Testament) and abortion in general is called "Molech Worship"; people who associate with people outside the church or in fact listen to any media not approved by the church are "opening doorways for Satan", etc.  Feminists, too, are accused of being possessed of the "spirit of Jezebel" and of trying to infect the world with a "Jezebel spirit".

Progressives are likewise condemned, with general rants that they support Satan because they support "Sodomites" (gays) and "Molech worshippers" (abortion providers) and "Jezebels" (feminists).

by dogemperor on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 09:00:17 AM EST

dogemperor wrote:
<"In fact, a lot of dominionist churches actually go one step further--in that any church group that is not expressly allied with them, and everyone else for that matter, is a card-carrying devil worshipper.

Yes, I'm serious.  No, I am not making this up (in the immortal words of Dave Barry).">

I think that some folks actually believe this, and then others are simply ignorant... (Which category Mr Ortiz falls into, I'll let someone else make that determination.)

Check out my blog for more details about my personal experience on this:


by EmilyWynn8 on Mon Dec 05, 2005 at 04:08:19 PM EST

downright creepy. especially the photo up top -- is that christopher lee playing satan?

by True Blue on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 09:06:41 PM EST

Ted Strickland, Ohio's governor, is currently in the process of convincing Ohioans to vote in favor of House Bill 545. The bill was enacted unethically earlier this year. A vote in favor of the bill would put a cap of 36 percent on the annual interest rates charged by no fax payday loan companies. Such a cap would mean that for every $100 transaction performed by a lender, the lender would earn a little over a dollar. House bill 545 would drive the payday loan industry into the ground because no business can survive making mere dollars per transaction. Even worse is the fact that Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama wants to one-up Ted Strickland. Should Obama win the presidential election, Obama has promised that he will try to impose Strickland's interest rate cap across the entire United States. If Americans don't have access to payday loans, it will be much more difficult for people to make ends meet in tough financial times. So when the economy continues to flounder and bills continue to increase, Americans are going to find themselves at the end of their financial ropes. With such dire circumstances, people are going to need options, so remember to use your voice and vote. Post Courtesy of Personal Money Store Professional Blogging Team Feed Back: 1-866-641-3406 Home: Blog:

by PaydayLoanAdvocate on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 05:10:51 AM EST

Ohioans, you have a chance to speak up for your financial freedom. This election day, consumers who depend upon the availability of payday loans for unexpected emergency expenses they hadn't budgeted for must speak up. This is the time that we as a voter can voiced-out our opinion and to make a move about the financial independency. HB 545 is not a Robin Hood that will "steal from the rich and give to the poor." The reality is more like the Sheriff of Nottingham appointing more vassals. That's what's happening when banks and credit unions throw as much money as they do behind this measure; they seek not only to snatch up the business payday lenders who have been squeezed out of business will leave, but to subject consumers to a product that will be even more profitable for banks: overdraft protection. Opponents make a big thing out of a "monster" 391 percent APR on faxless payday loans, but overdraft protection typically costs in excess of 1,000 percent APR. Which one's the moneymaker? Keep in mind that payday loans are typically only two-week loans to begin with, so it's an apple to orange argument. Moreover, voting NO on HB 545 will help prevent a mass exodus of jobs (in excess of 6,000) from leaving the state of Ohio. Odds are that many who lose their jobs due to such government overregulation will leave to work and/or live outside Ohio, which creates a tax and spending power deficit for a state that's already suffering severe budget problems. Then there will be over 1,600 empty storefronts. How will that look when you're courting businesses to move to your state, Mr. Strickland? Maybe you should be reading the discussion people are having about HB 545 on the blog at NO on HB 545 makes sense if you want to fix your state's economy. Post Courtesy of Personal Money Store Professional Blogging Team Feed Back: 1-866-641-3406 Home: Blog:

by PaydayLoanAdvocate on Thu Oct 30, 2008 at 03:27:33 AM EST

This is not really surprising since R.J. Rushdoony himself was involved in the Constitution Party from its earliest days -- as are many other leading Reconstructionists to this day. | Decking Contractor               

by maroso on Mon Sep 13, 2021 at 07:56:06 AM EST

  Chris appreciates civil discourse, as do we at Talk to Action. He also respects people who seek to get their facts right; and who seek to understand rather than smear people with whom they disagree.

by madmardigan on Mon Nov 22, 2021 at 04:26:40 AM EST

 I will be reading them with great interest.

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by horeakaii on Mon Mar 14, 2022 at 11:22:37 AM EST

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