R. J. Rushdoony, Stern Father of Reconstructionism
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Thu Jun 22, 2006 at 04:42:51 PM EST

In the continuing series of postings on individual portraits, bios, quotes and links on the major "American Fundamentalists" portrayed in my painting, this week features R. J. Rushdoony, intellectual leader and "founder" of the modern Christian Reconstructionist movement. I welcome your comments, further quotes and links on these individuals and the groups they run and/or support (to be included on my site).

R. J. Rushdoony is considered to be the modern day father of Christian Reconstruction. He was one of the writers and signers of "A Manifesto for the Christian Church" (download PDF). Rushdoony comes across to me as a mean - REALLY mean - version of Francis Schaeffer. Where Schaeffer might be appalled at the uniquely American fusion of Christian, free market/libertarian and political empire theologies, Rushdoony actually created the stew (and his son in law, Gary North, continues the tradition by consulting on how to dodge tax law while at the same time starting the Armageddon).

There are so many writings left by the man (he died in 1992) that it's not hard to find 'interesting' quotes. Since he is the founder of the modern American "Christian Reconstructionist" movement, what follows is a brief description of the term, as well as samples form his writings (as he Biblically justifies slavery, the destruction of democracy, intolerance, Jesus wasn't really a Jew, etc.).

Christian Reconstructionism considers democracy/freedom a heresy. Its distortion/reconstruction of American Christian traditions is used to justify its evil. Its social and religious dogma promotes genocide, enslavement, and terror to promote the delusions of a self-chosen royal race to dominion over the earth. They see themselves in religious terms as a new "master religion" whose destiny is to crush all others in the name of God.

Except for perhaps Christian Identity, Christian Reconstructionism has to be one of the worse perversions of Christianity ever devised. It is the personal political opinions of its founders wrapped in a form of hyper-Calvinism totally stripped of anything Jesus ever said (they claim Jesus' moral teachings are for Jews only) while preaching a society stripped of all freedoms and personal choice. Every facet of society, government, family, schools, etc, would be "reconstructed" along Old Testament lines. This includes the death penalty for abortion, homosexuals, atheists and other non-believers, blasphemy, etc. (Lewis Loflin)


"The Church today has fallen prey to the heresy of democracy" ("The Instutues of Biblical Law," 1973, p. 747)

"The goal is the developed Kingdom of god, the New Jerusalem, a world order under god's law." (ibid,  p. 357)

"Democracy is the great love of the failures and cowards of life." ("Thy Kingdom Come," p. 39)

"All who are content with a humanistic law system...are guilty of idolatry...they are asking us to serve other gods." ("Law and Society: Volume II" of the "Institutes of Biblical Law," 1982, p. 468)

"Segregation or separation is thus a basic principle of Biblical law with respect to religion... toleration is the excuse under which this levelling is undertaken... the believer is asked to associate on a common level ... with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions" ("The Institutes of Biblical Law," 1973, p. 294)

"The private ownership of slave labor in the American South has been the subject of extensive distortion." (Reconstructionists glorify it) "The condition of the Irish immigrants on arrival was far worse than that of slaves: they had no master to feed and clothe them or to provide shelter." "The basic difference between the Irish and the Negro has not been color: it has been character...it is a significant difference that cannot be explained altogether by color or environment." In other writings they refer to the pre-1865 South as a "victim" and its society as the "ideal" Christian society." ("Politics of Guilt and Pity," 1970)


Los Angeles-based artist Joel Pelletier is the creator of "American Fundamentalists (Christ's Entry into Washington in 2008)", an 8x14 foot painting depicting American religious, political and economic fundamentalists. He has been touring the US with the painting talking about "American Fundamentalism and the Threat to Democracy and Freedom of Faith" (more at americanfundamentalists.com)

I've been looking at the other Grouper's agenda for a few years now...

Don Tyson might be another interesting person to investigate...

For the most part they are a para-military org... (I am sure you have run into this find with your own research.)

Sam Cohen might be another interesting person to investigate; (Father of the Neutron Bomb -The Moral Weapon...)

Anyway, thanks for the links.


by inlikeflint on Thu Jun 22, 2006 at 08:21:13 PM EST

And I thought Leo Strauss's theocon proteges were crazy!

by Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Jun 23, 2006 at 07:19:38 AM EST
The human ability for self-delusion always continues to amaze me. We truly seem to each (individually) create the concept of reality and the universe in our minds. For me, it seems that the sign of true intelligence and evolution is the ability to recognize when we're wrong (note the immense problems our current president has caused because of his lack of this ability). Only when we are willing (or able) to recognize new information that challenges the universe in our minds do we grow.

A true definition of fundamentalism (of any sort) is the unwavering assuredness that they are 100% right, with NO DOUBTS possible. This seems childish at best, and horribly dangerous at worst, because it flies in the face of the reality outside their heads (oh, bring on the existentialists!). Remember, the bible is perfect because it is the true word of god. If you believe that, then all of these terrible things done in his name makes absolute sense.

Sorry for the philosophical rant, but for me this all leads to the same road. How arrogant we are to think we KNOW god, or even that there is a god. As the buddha says (or is attributed, anyway - don't get me started on quotes and holy text), "the only thing we can know is that we do not know anything." I don't have a problem with this. Obviously, some people do - and the only thing I know is that THIS is the problem.

No, this is not an attack on Christians - it's much bigger than that, and I'm sure that suggesting there are bigger issues than particular religious beliefs is in itself (for some) considered fightin' words! There's a very interesting book by Sam Harris entitled "The End of Faith," where he argues that moderate people of faith ARE the problem (note the IRD and many right-wing christian organizations feel the same, for different reasons). Because they feel that faith and mysticism exists and should be respected, moderates cannot properly critique fundamerntalists and religious radicals, for whom faith and mysticism is the base upon which their radical and dangerous views are built. Worth discussing, or will it upset too many? Just asking...

by joelp on Fri Jun 23, 2006 at 02:36:40 PM EST

Always. No exceptions -- as the site registration process and our site guidelines make very clear.

We seek a site culture of mutual respect among religious and non-religious people.

If you are new to the site, and even if you are not, please understand that antireligious comments and diaries are off topic and are normally deleted without notice. Repeat offenders may be banned. The same goes for anyone slamming nonreligious worldviews and individuals or scapegoating atheism.

This is one of the very few bedrock editorial positions of the site and is not up for debate.

A corrollary idea is that we are not interested in fundamentalism per se, and do not care what people's views on fundamentalism are -- except in so far as they relate to the topic of the site, which is the religious right and what to do about it. 

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 23, 2006 at 03:12:55 PM EST
It's just interesting that Sam Harris (an atheist) and the IRD (a conservative religious group) make the same argument - the biggest problem is the religious moderates.

I am not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with this point, only bringing up an interesting synchonicity between such disparate viewpoints

by joelp on Fri Jun 23, 2006 at 04:48:14 PM EST

But from several articles and interviews I have seen, it is my impression that Harris has a clever argument that is really just warmed over anti-religiosity. 

I agree with you that his argument smacks of IRD is interesting and should send out alarm bells for anyone who cares about religious freedom in America.

It would be helpful for non-religious folks to get their minds around the idea that religious freedom in the American cultural, legal and constitutional tradition is the right  of individual conscience; the right to believe as you will; the right to change your mind uncoerced by church or state; and that your religious identity is irrelevant to your status as a citizen.

The non-religious have a big stake in the idea of religious freedom. From a political perspective, it is far better to know that their allies are the Christians of the mainline churches who also believe in religious freedom and separation of church and state.

From everything I have seen, if the religious right didn't already have him, they would have to invent him. He is the best ally the religious right could ask for.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 23, 2006 at 05:39:09 PM EST
Harris and the religious right are both essentially saying the same thing. That is, if you're not an extremist, you're part of the problem. This is an especially foolish tactic for our side. Because if forced to choose, religious moderates are far more likely to join with fanatical Christians than with atheists. And even if they went the other way, an atheocracy is no better than a theocracy. I know moderates can be frustrating, especially when you need people to take a stand on something. But generally speaking, we need less extremism, not more.

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by johncity on Sat Sep 28, 2019 at 12:45:03 AM EST

Rushdoony says: "The goal is the developed Kingdom of god, the New Jerusalem, a world order under god's law." The Emperor of the Far-Right Fringe is naked.......so much for railing against the abomination of the "New World Order and One World Government." The real message is clear: "My New World Order and One World Government = good. Your New World Order and One World Government = bad."

by anomalous4 on Fri Jun 23, 2006 at 11:14:51 AM EST

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