Theocrat of the Week
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu May 10, 2007 at 12:42:47 AM EST
These days, many prospective candidates for Theocrat of the Week do their best not to appear to be theocratic. They know it is not yet their time and it is somtimes necessary to be tactful when taking the movement forward. It is important to avoid coming across as prematurely theocratic. That's why Our Blue Ribbon Panel of Judges appreciates candidates who pull off being theocratic with such aplomb, that hardly anyone even notices.  So many of our prospective theocrats gleefully  blend themselves into the Greater Culture so effectively that some in the punditocracy do not even believe that there is a theocratic political movement in the United States. People of this ilk often try to define theocracy in such a way that hardly anyone in the history of the world could ever have held a theocratic thought, and if by some chance someone did, even then it would probably be controversial; something we certainly wouldn't want to jump to any conclusions about. 

Some would have it that a theocracy has to be governed only by the priesthood of an official religion. But in Islamic countries such as Iran, there can be a constitution and  elections but the nation is still theocratic, or at least have theocratic factions or majorities who are seeking to use democratic processes to impose religious law and thwart religious freedom.  Theocratic factions operate in many countries, sometimes playing major roles. Here in the United States, we have several theocratic political movements operating in ever-shifting coalitional formations. Few would say that they advocate "theocracy" but their politics, their protestations not withstanding, are distinctly theocratic.  This brings us to Our Theocrat of the Week:  Frank Page, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

Last year Page called on Baptists to set up a parallel school system -- kindergarten through high school, and to make it available even to people who cannot afford it. This call went out after he had declined to endorse a controversial resolution (proposing an "exit strategy" from the public schools) at the SBC meeting that elected him president. So he got to have it both ways: gain the presidency in part by dodging the contoversy, and then using the bully pulpit of his office to encourage and empower the advcoates of the defeated resolution to go forward in his name. Smart.

Ethics Daily reports:

SBC president Frank Page shortly after his election last summer in Greensboro, N.C. Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C.,  told Agape Press he is disturbed that many teenagers leave the church after graduating from high school and he hoped that more churches would begin offering Christian schools.

According to an article at the theocratic movement news site, World Net Daily a resolution will be offered at the SBC's annual meeting in San Antonio next month by

Voddie Baucham, a pastor with a national teaching ministry and the author of "The Ever Loving Truth," and Bruce Shortt, a board member for Exodus Mandate and author of "The Harsh Truth About Public Schools," endorses Page's suggestions, and calls for more.

"Dr. Page's call for more Christian schools is the beginning of the 'exit strategy' that Dr. [Albert] Mohler has urged be developed. If the SBC and American Christianity are to survive in any culturally relevant way, we are going to have to repent of our unfaithfulness in the education of our children. And we need to do this sooner rather than later," said Baucham.

His resolution, submitted jointly with Shortt for the 2007 SBC annual meeting, is intended to expand the debate among Christians about creating a parallel school system, only one that includes biblical truth as part of an education.

In past years, similar national resolutions have been defeated, but have been percolating in a number of state conventions.

It should go without saying that Wiley Drake, a previous Theocrat of the Week honoree, has been in the forefront of these efforts:

As Christians, we must rescue our children from public schools," Drake stated. "They are being coerced and persecuted there. Frankly, speaking as a pastor who has observed the deterioration of public schools for many years, I would say that Christian parents who are putting their children in public schools today are endangering their children spiritually, emotionally, physically and educationally. This debate is important because parents need to know how toxic public schools have become."

WND also reported that the earlier resolution, which made national news stated "

the millions of children in government schools spend seven hours a day, 180 days a year being taught that God is irrelevant to every area of life," the resolution said, "Many Christian children in government schools are converted to an anti-Christian worldview rather than evangelizing their schoolmates."
 That resolution was heartily endorsed by the Home School Legal Defense Association, which declared:
Government schools are by their own confession humanistic and secular in their instruction, [and] the education offered by the government schools is officially Godless.

Yes, one of the characteristics of a good theocratic leader operating in a non-theocratic environment, is to give permission to lesser theocrats to show the way to a more theocratic future without diminishing his own power and influence. There will always be other theocratic ininiatives, and each one is an experiment.  Hence the brilliance of Frank Page. Elected as an ostensibly moderate reformer in a denomination said to have been taken over by rightwing fundamentalists, whatever Page did, naturally would never be seen as such: if he was careful. So when Page said he thinks SBC churches should establish more schools  why it must be OK because after all, he is not one of them. But fortunately, he has men like Wiley Drake, Bruce Shortt, and allies at the conservative Presbyterian dominated WND to agitate and get people used to the most extreme and off-putting variants on the scheme, so whatever he and his people ultimately propose, looks moderate by comparison.

Here is more from World Net Daily:

If you like sexually transmitted diseases, shootings and high teen pregnancy rates, by all means, send your children to public schools. That's the word from a leader in the fast-growing movement within the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention for parents to pull their children from those schools in favor of homeschooling.

The program is called Exit Strategy and Pastor Wiley Drake, whose home state of California has done some things especially offensive to Christians this year, is a leading promoter.

In an interview with WND, he said that those problems and others are prevalent in public schools, and some Christian leaders even have said it could be considered child abuse just to register children in such a facility.

That's why resolutions encouraging members of the nation's largest Protestant church organization to exit public schools have been submitted in every SBC state and regional convention in the U.S., he said.

As shrill and alarming as all this may sound to some, it is unsurprising. For a generation, leading Christian Reconstuctionists, begining with R.J.Rushdoony himself have declared that the public schools are a major obstacle for the theocratic movement. Indeed, the public schools are intended to help children become citizens in a consttitutional democracy, organized on principles of religious pluralism. In 1994, I wrote a series of articles for The Public Eye magazine, detailing the Reconstructionist movement and its influence on the Christian Right. Here is an excerpt about education: is in the next generation that most Reconstructionists hope to seize the future. "All long-term social change," declares [Reconstructionist theorist] Gary North, "comes from the successful efforts of one or another struggling organizations to capture the minds of a hard core of future leaders, as well as the respect of a wider population." The key to this, they believe, lies with the Christian school and the home schooling movement, both deeply influenced by Reconstructionism.

Unsurprisingly, Reconstructionists seek to abolish public schools, which they see as a critical component in the promotion of a secular world view. It is this secular world view with which they declare themselves to be at war. "Until the vast majority of Christians pull their children out of the public schools," writes Gary North, "there will be no possibility of creating a theocratic republic."

Among the top Reconstructionists in education politics is Robert Thoburn of Fairfax Christian School in Fairfax, Virginia. Thoburn advocates that Christians run for school board, while keeping their own children out of public schools. "Your goal" (once on the board), he declares, "must be to sink the ship." While not every conservative Christian who runs for school board shares this goal, those who do will, as Thoburn advises, probably keep it to themselves. Thoburn's book, The Children Trap, is a widely used sourcebook for Christian Right attacks on public education.

Joseph Morecraft, who also runs a school, said in 1987: "I believe the children in the Christian schools of America are the Army that is going to take the future. Right now... the Christian Reconstruction movement is made up of a few preachers, teachers, writers, scholars, publishing houses, editors of magazines, and it's growing quickly. But I expect a massive acceleration of this movement in about 25 or 30 years, when those kids that are now in Christian schools have graduated and taken their places in American society, and moved into places of influence and power."

Similarly, the Christian "home schooling" movement is part of the longterm revolutionary strategy of Reconstructionism. One of the principal home schooling curricula is provided by Reconstructionist [the late] Paul Lindstrom of Christian Liberty Academy (CLA) in Arlington Heights, Illinois. CLA claims that it serves about 20,000 families. Its 1994 curriculum included a book on "Biblical Economics" by Gary North. Home schooling advocate Christopher Klicka, who has been deeply influenced by R. J. Rushdoony, writes: "Sending our children to the public school violates nearly every Biblical principle.... It is tantamount to sending our children to be trained by the enemy." He claims that the public schools are Satan's choice. Klicka also advocates religious selfsegregation and advises Christians not to affiliate with non-Christian home schoolers in any way. "The differences I am talking about," declares Klicka, "have resulted in wars and martyrdom in the not too distant past." According to Klicka, who is an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association, "as an organization, and as individuals, we are committed to promote the cause of Christ and His Kingdom."

A few weeks ago here at Talk to Action, Mainstream Baptist connected the dots when he reported:  

Those who still doubt there are links between Southern Baptists and theocratic Christian Reconstructionists should look inside the front cover of the December 2004 issue of the Chalcedon Report. There the chief publishing house for Reconstructionist thought, Chalcedon, [founded by R.J. Rushdoony] announces that it has published Bruce Shortt's book, The Harsh Truth About Public Schools. Bruce Shortt, along with T.C. Pinckney, leads the movement against public schools within the Southern Baptist Convention.

Televangelist and Christian right leader D. James Kennedy blurbed the book this way:  

This book presents an idea whose time has come. Modern public education in America has too often degenerated into indoctrination in secular humanism. This books presents the solution to the problem.

In a press release issued by [the apparently one-man organization], Exodus Mandate, which serves as a resource center for the sponsors of the resolution, Chaplain E. Ray Moore, points out,

The Southern Baptists are setting the pace in debating this critical issue. Other denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in America are also having this debate. It is our prayer and hope that this debate will take place in all Bible based denominations over the next few years and that both Christian parents and the institutional church will come to understand clearly the urgency of rescuing our children from the government schools.

When Frank Page speaks, the theocratic movement listens, acts and invokes his name and his office. And that is why Frank Page is our Theocrat of the Week.

Our Blue Ribbon Panel of Judges are always eager to learn of notable theocrats.  

You can make nominations here, or email them to:

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu May 10, 2007 at 01:11:38 AM EST

Was this an intentional pun:"It is important to avoid coming across as prematurely theocratic."?  

It is both sad and frightening that these people can advocate a system of schooling apart from public education to "protect" their Christian Kids.  If they really think that these schools would address the "sexually transmitted diseases, shootings and high teen pregnancy rates" that they say run rampant in the public schools, isn't the Christian thing to do to actually send their kids to these schools to be the light and the salt and the leaven?   And it's just downright scary that there are those who will advocate running for a school board (or any board/position) in order to make things worse.  

Theocrat of the week?  Maybe of the month.  
God's grace and peace, Deb K
by Pastordeb on Thu May 10, 2007 at 01:27:37 AM EST

that if there is something funny in one of Our Theocrat of the Week Announcements, it was intentional:-)

As for the rest, well, we will be seeing a lot of this kind of stuff for the rest of the lives of everyone reading this, and adjustments will need to be made; that is, if Americans value a constitutional democracy based on religious pluralism.

The various theocratic factions are having considerable success in insitutionalizing important elements of their movement.  Whether very many SBC churches join Wiley, Shortt, Mohler & Page in their call for  a more theocratic educational system, or whether the ranks of theocratic homeschoolers swells such that elementary education starts to look more like Jesus Camp than the places where we learned to read Dick and Jane, remains to be seen.

But as the right likes to say, ideas have consequences, and the creeping theocratic notions of Rushdoony and his allies have made pretty substantial progress in a relatively short period of time.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu May 10, 2007 at 02:20:37 AM EST

various religious conservatives, including Cal Thomas, were already describing the public schools as "a burning building" from which conscientious Christians must immediately rescue their children. Of course, many conscientious Christians were and are incapable financially of making the break to church schools or homeschooling.
Hence the cry for vouchers, based on the lie that public educators are uncaring exploiters of youth and promulgators of false information, such as the theory of evolution and the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. Oh, and condom distribution, from kindergarten on up-- can't forget those condoms.

by nogodsnomasters on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:47:40 PM EST

being prematurely anti-fascist? A bunch of people got in trouble for that during the McCarthy era, mainly because they figured out during the Thirties that Franco was up to no good.

by nogodsnomasters on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:51:30 PM EST
being prematurely theocratic of course, does not have the same consequences as having been early opponents of fascism.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:52:33 PM EST
that the consequences might not turn out to be equally severe?

by nogodsnomasters on Thu May 10, 2007 at 11:01:16 PM EST
but I am.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri May 11, 2007 at 01:11:27 AM EST

I agree that it's incredibly sad to hear that people who purposely keep their children out of the public schools are running for those same school boards not to make the school appropriate environments for their children (I suppose to their way of thinking, that can't happen legally at this time anyway) but to completely destroy what to most families is the only possible avenue for education and a better life. This is a "there ought to be a law" issue on which there can't be a law for constitutional reasons.

by RevRuthUCC on Sun May 13, 2007 at 10:35:53 PM EST

Its a little known fact that in Frank's church in Fort Worth was the late and famous Dr. Estep.  Estep is often referred to by Americans United for Separation of Church and State as a great scholar.  His book, REVOLUTION WITHIN A REVOLUTION, would footnote your article on Public Eye. Estep was a strong advocate for separation of church and state.  Frank  has abandoned his roots to unite with the power brokers in the SBC.  If you are not interested in reading Short's book on public schools you can get my book review on  If you haven't checked out what was really stated in the book, its a must.  By the way, the book is endorsed by the 2 men who took the SBC down this path.

by wilkyjr on Thu May 10, 2007 at 02:23:14 PM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (330 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (178 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (98 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (93 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (105 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (127 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (115 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (79 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (228 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (55 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (153 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (173 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (53 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (54 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (210 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (240 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (87 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (171 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (143 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (141 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (146 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (144 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (123 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (185 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (142 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (83 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (189 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (77 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (107 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (105 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.