Senate Chaplain Drops Out of "Reclaiming America for Christ" Roster
Kathryn Joyce printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 04:52:21 PM EST
United States Senate Chaplain Barry Black announced on Thursday that he was canceling an appearance and speech at a March conference of religious right leaders, "Reclaiming America for Christ Conference," which will feature speakers including Rev. D. James Kennedy, anti-abortion activist Frank Pavone, anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and Ann Coulter, with whom Black was pictured in a brochure promoting the conference.
Richard Land, Commissar of the Southern Baptists Commission Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, will replace Black, who pulled out of the conference the same day he received a letter from Americans United for Separation of Church and State arguing that the conference was at odds with the necessarily "non-sectarian, non-partisan nature of Black's office and the religiously diverse constituency he must serve," and warning him that James Kennedy's followers believe "that certain types of Christians -- those who agree with [Kennedy's] interpretation of the Bible -- are the rightful owners of the country and that the nation must be 'reclaimed.'"

Black later told Reclaiming America organizers that the partisan nature of the conference conflicted with his duties as Senate chaplain, and, through his spokeswoman, charged that he hadn't been fully informed about the nature of the conference - which will feature discussions on "making America safe for the unborn," "the battle to defend marriage," "homosexuality and the church" and "Darwin's deadly legacy" -- his fellow speakers.

Refuting Black's charge that his invitation to speak was misleadingly vague and "very generic," Reclaiming America published a copy of the invitation which describes the purpose of the "grassroots training conference":

This two-day event is to specifically inform, train and equip Christians to be salt and light in their own communities. We are certain that your knowledge and experience would encourage individual involvement to help restore our God-given freedoms and to defend and implement the Biblical principles on which our country was founded. A spectacular and inspiring patriotic concert closes the conference on Saturday evening."

Clearly political and partisan? Of course it is, to anyone who's paid any attention to the news in the past ten years, and especially to someone who's working smack in the middle of the intersection between religion and politics. In this regard, the conference's organizers are being (marginally) more honest than Black when they explain their grassroots training session: "We are a conservative evangelical ministry. Our conference is an outworking of our faith. It's not political; it's moral, it's ethical. Does it have political implications? Certainly."

It's certainly good news that Black pulled out of the engagement, and the implication within the cancellation that church-state separation watchdog groups such as Americans United have enough influence and media-power to convince moderate politicians and government staffers to avoid such religious right extravaganzas. But the flimsiness of Black's excuse is also testament to how necessary such watchdogs are -- if only to expose the very evident political implications of a conference such as Reclaiming America. One doesn't need Black's theological training to understand the nature of a conference that seeks to train grassroots Christian activists to fight for biblical fundamentals in a democracy, or one that promises to end with a patriotic spectacular. Nor would Black's staffers need a whole lot of insight into radical right theology to understand that a website that proclaims, "The advancement of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ: that's the business of America," might be at odds with their duties as government employees.

This is a greay diary. Let's find out more about him. One of his most revered predecessors, Richard Halverson, was for decades also one of the two leaders of the Fellowship, a group that doesn't believe separation of church and state really exists. How come this wasn't a problem for a man on the gov't payroll? Nobody asked him about it.

Step one, for some enterprising type: Give Black a call.
Author of THE FAMILY: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (Harper, May 20)
by Jeff Sharlet on Tue Feb 06, 2007 at 05:34:08 PM EST

The Dominionists define "reclaiming America" as taking over the government, abolishing democracy,  and replacing the Constitution with Mosaic Law.
Last time I heard, that would be considered treason.

So why are we allowing members of a group whose avowed goal is the destruction of our Constitution, to hold public office in the first place?

I believe we have an oath that civil servants must take, in order to prevent just this sort of thing:
 Every officer in the executive branch (and indeed all employees in the federal government, save a few rare instances that are Constitutionally or otherwise statutorily differentiated -- i.e. the President, and Supreme Court justices) recite the following oath:

"I (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

 Of course the Dominionists justify lying for a "good cause" by referring to the Biblical story of "Rahab's Lie",  but the part in the oath about "mental reservation or purpose of evasion" pretty much closes that loophole.

 What Dominionists are attempting  is treason, in no uncertain terms, and yet they have no qualms about perjuring themselves by swearing to defend the Constitution of the United States.

R. J. Rushdoony maintained that treason implies disobedience to an oath.  In Dominionistland,  that would be a stoning offense. Personally, I think that life in prison would be sufficient.

by Cynthia Gee on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 12:54:42 PM EST

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