How Long Will Media Ignore Sharron Angle's Theocratic Past ?
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 09:54:53 AM EST
"Americans established a Constitutional Republic, a government of law, under God, rooted in Biblical law" - That's from the plank of the Independent American Party of Nevada (IAPN) which, according to Talking Points Memo's Justin Elliot, Sharron Angle was an active member of for much of the 1990's and even played a key role in helping re-launch in 1992. According to the Wall Street Journal Angle belonged to the IAPN from 1992 to 1997.

Currently running on the Republican ticket against Democratic Nevada Senate Majority Leader in the 2010 election, Sharron Angle has stated that she would like to see both alcohol and marijuana be made illegal and has endorsed banning pornography. It's not very "libertarian," and ample evidence ties Angle to a totalitarian theocratic American political movement whose ideological mentor wanted to impose stoning as a form of execution for a wide range of sex crimes, believed all non-believers should be killed, and referred to Jesus an "executioner."

As the Nevada-based Deseret News reported in a April 19, 1992 story on the IAPN re-launch, " The party's central committee will meet at a future date to formally outline a platform. The Independent Americans seek to make "God's laws" the laws of the state." The story quoted IAPN founder Joy Beech, "We are going to be an organization that is not ashamed of Christ, of his commandments or to stand up for them."  

In 1994, according to the TPM story, Angle's IAPN spread a crackpot anti-gay conspiracy theory by running a newspaper ad titled "Consequences of Sodomy: Ruin of a Nation" which claimed HIV could be spread through water supplies. As I covered yesterday, during the last decade Sharron Angle chaired the Nevada We The People PAC that alleged the existence of a vast gay conspiracy trying destroy American society. As Angle's official biography states,"She is proud of her past chairwomanship of We the People Nevada PAC."

As Janine Hansen, executive director of the Independent American Party of Nevada told Talking Points Memo, Angle left the party in the late 1990's "because she wanted to run for office. And it was difficult for members of our party to get elected at that time." There's more.

Though the TPM story doesn't bring it up, The IAPN then was, and still is, an official affiliate of the overtly theocratic U.S. Taxpayers Party, now renamed the Constitution Party. In that light the anti-gay animus of Sharron Angle and the IAPN is especially notable, because the U.S. Taxpayers Party/Constitution Party are closely tied to the late theologian R.J. Rushdoony - who wanted to impose stoning as an execution method for active homosexuals, adulterers, women who have sex before marriage, blasphemers, and people who strike or curse at their parents.

What's Christian Reconstructionism ? Well it's a theocratic intellectual and political movement founded by the late Armenian theologian R.J. Rushdoony, and it burst onto the American political scene in 1992 with the founding of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, later renamed the Constitution Party. Founder of the two parties Howard Phillips was a member of Rushdoony's inner circle and called the theologian "my wise counseler" according to journalist Frederick Clarkson, a noted authority on Christian Reconstructionism.

R.J. Rushdoony gave a keynote address at the U.S. Taxpayers Party founding convention in 1992 and Rushdoony also spoke at the USTP presidential nominating convention in 1996, which selected Howard Phillips as the USTP nominee that year.

In April of 1996 Phillips gave a speech at San Jose, CA  Christian Reconstructionist party thrown for R.J. Rushdoony's 80th birthday at which Phillips stated, "This country has a very, very special role to play in building God's Kingdom and restoring Christendom, in giving fulfillment to the postmillennial conclusions which have been reached by those who have been privileged to be part of the Chalcedon ministry."  

In a 1995 interview published in the Chalcedon Report, put out by the flagship institution of the Christian Reconstructionist movement, the Chalcedon Foundation (founded by R.J. Rushdoony), Howard Phillips explained, "Our goal must be not merely to capture a party, or even a platform, but to install our policies in government."

In a 1989 fund raising letter for the Chalcedon Foundation Howard Phillips wrote, "Each of us who has read the Institutes of Biblical Law... has been uniquely privileged. God has blessed us with the opportunity for exposure to the insights and teachings of a great theologian and servant... I have no doubt that he will be ever after regarded as one of the most significant figures in the history of Christian thought and advocacy."

U.S. Republican Senator Jim DeMint seem to consider Christian Reconstructionists as a potentially valuable source of financial support for Sharron Angle's political campaign, reports Julie Ingersoll for Religion Dispatches. DeMint has purchased mailing lists from the Reconstructionism-linked group American Vision to power a fund-raising effort for Angle (a correction: Initially I wrote that American Vision donated its mailing lists to DeMint's effort. That was incorrect - the lists were purchased.

R.J. Rushdoony wanted to base American law and government on Old Testament scripture. He advocated stoning to death adulterers, women who have intercourse before marriage, active homosexuals, and people who strike or curse at their parents (the full list of miscreants who according to Rushdoony should be bashed to death with rocks is much longer than this.) Why rocks ? As Rushdoony's son-in-law Gary North, another leading Christian Reconstructionist, put it, "There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost." North has described executions-by-stoning as "community projects."

R.J. Rushdoony had a number of other notable views - he was a geocentrist who thought the Sun orbited the Earth, and he was a Holocaust revisionist who claimed in his master work The Institutes of Biblical Law that less than one million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War Two and that most of those died from cold rather than execution.

Anti-Semitic tendencies in Christian Reconstructionism appear have survived Rushdoony. In 2007 on the Chalcedon Foundation web site, the Chalcedon Foundation's Communications Director Chris Ortiz wrote a post concerning anti-Semitism that contained a favorable reference to Michael Hoffman, who Syracuse University political scientist Michael Barkun has referred to, in his 2006 book A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America, as a "Holocaust denier and proponent of multiple conspiracy theories."  

According to Rushdoony, the institution of pre-Civil War slavery in America represented a step up for Africans kidnapped, shipped to America, and forced to work on cotton plantations - "The move from Africa to America was a vast increase of freedom for the Negro, materially and spiritually as well as personally." But slavery was a net negative for the South according to Rushdoony, who wrote, "Only a minority of the slaves ever worked," thus forcing slave owners to hire hard-working whites to pick up the slack, claimed the Reconstructionist titan.

As Rushdoony wrote in Politics of Guilt and Pity (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, [1970] 1978),

the white man is being systematically indoctrinated into believing that he is guilty of enslaving and abusing the Negro. Granted that some Negroes were mistreated as slaves, the fact still remains that nowhere in all history or in the world today has the Negro been better off. The life expectancy of the Negro increased when he was transported to America. He was not taken from freedom into slavery, but from a vicious slavery to degenerate chiefs to a generally benevolent slavery in the United States. There is not the slightest evidence that any American Negro had ever lived in a "free society" in Africa; even the idea did not exist in Africa. The move from Africa to America was a vast increase of freedom for the Negro...

Writings of the late R.J. Rushdoony, especially his monumental Institutes of Biblical Law - which sought to establish how Old Testament scripture could be implemented in American jurisprudence, have heavily influenced the evolving Christian right, and Rushdoony's works have found a place at major evangelical right institutions such as the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and Pat Robertson's Regent University.

Sharron Angle's membership in the U.S. Taxpayers Party/Constitution Party affiliated Independent American Party of Nevada, raises serious questions about her candidacy given the viciously eliminationist nature of R.J. Rushdoony's writing.

On page 574 of Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law he described Jesus and an "executioner" of non-believers, writing,

The significance of Jesus Christ as "the faithful and true witness" is that He not only witnesses against those who are at war against God, but He also executes them.

.... Jesus Christ as the witness is therefore the Lord and Judge over history.  He gives witness concerning men and nations, passes sentence against them, and them proceeds to their judgment or execution.

... The cross therefore requires judgment.  The false witness concerning Jesus Christ, to which all unbelievers, all apostate churchmen, and all nations and institutions which deny His sovereignty and His law-word, with one accord assent, that law requires their death (Deut. 19:16-21).

As the Constitution Party platform currently  states, "The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States... This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ... The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations... The U.S. Constitution established a Republic rooted in Biblical law"

Sharron Angle is not the only Republican Party nominee for Senate with ties to the Reconstructionist-inspired U.S. Taxpayer Party/Constitution Party.

A few weeks ago I covered Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul's keynoting of a 2009 Minnesota Constitution Party rally. As Adele Stan noted in an Alternet story yesterday, Rand Paul and Sharron Angle are looking more and more like peas in the theocratic pod known as Christian Reconstructionism.

Christian Reconstructionism has been portrayed as only a tiny subset of dominionism in a couple of things I've read over the years, and like it's almost a fading fad or memory (my impression from other writers).  Yet here we learn just how strong it really is- and seems to be growing.  I argue that much of the CR teachings are at the core of dominionism, and that constantly trying to "split" the whole movement up into different parts is a mistake.  Maybe some branches of dominionism don't buy the whole CR package, but it seems more and more like you encounter at least some phase of this stuff whenever you encounter dominionism.

Another thought is that Rushdoony is pretty much on the extreme end of the dominionist spectrum (IMO a better way to view them), and that as the movement becomes more militant and violent, the more they're going to be buying his stuff.

The whole world needs to be aware of this stuff- and they need to understand that it's taking place in what is arguably the most powerful nation in the world.  If their goals were realized, the world is in danger.

That should be a scary thing for humankind (and I think it's a threat against other species as well)!

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 12:05:33 PM EST

More information about Sharron Angle's campaign, and about some further interaction between Christian Reconstructionists and relatively mainstream religious right wingers can be found in the following article on Religion Dispatches:  DeMint Uses Christian Reconstructionist Mailing List To Raise Money For Angle by Julie Ingersoll, June 16, 2010.

by Diane Vera on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 01:16:57 PM EST
I linked to Ingersol's two RD pieces in my story, by the way.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 01:22:21 PM EST

I have several articles written by R. J. Rushdoony published in 1983 by my former Baptist Bible College schoolmate, the late Jerry Falwell, in his Liberty Journal.

I have likened the influence of Rushdoony's dominionist theology to the influence of the late Norman Vincent Peale and his Power of Positive Thinking.

When the book was first published it was mocked by many fundamentalist and others. Yet today one can not hear any motivational speaker or even most preachers who do not use some nugget of Peale's thoughts in their speech.

Today many fundamentalist/charismatic preachers preach little nuggets from Rushdoony even though they don't know the origins of the nugget.

by JerrySloan on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 02:08:14 PM EST

...also, the charismatic New Wine magazine was printing Rushdoony's writing in the 1970's. Frederick Clarkson, in his book Eternal Hostility, saw the developing trend - of Reconstructionist ideas colonizing wider evangelicalism.

We're now far down the road.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 08:01:40 PM EST

You GOT to be kidding! This Angle woman has a "theocratic background" and is still at large, not yet arrested and charged with...with...she's still at large? And by "theocratic" you mean like the "theo" Greek word meaning God, right? But, how could you run this story and not show a picture of this dangerous God-background person so we can all be on the look-out for her?! She probably even goes to church, reads the Bible, and at this very moment might be some place --- PRAYING!!! Congratulations on a major important piece of journalism. I'm already hearing Pulitzer Prize buzz for your revelation.

John Lofton, Editor,
Communications Director, Institute on the Constitution
Host, "TheAmericanView" radio show
Recovering Republican

by TruthTeller on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 09:04:26 PM EST

I notice that R.J. Rushdoony contributed several articles to your site. I found one in particular, The Meaning of Theocracy, quite helpful:

"Few things are more commonly misunderstood than the nature and meaning of theocracy. It is commonly assumed to be a dictatorial rule by self-appointed men who claim to rule for God. In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had."

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 02:55:13 PM EST

Sharron Angle, a Republican candidate for the Nevada Senate, has been linked to a controversial political movement called the Independent American Party of Nevada.  firearm prohibition The movement, which has ties to the theocratic U.S. Taxpayers Party/Constitution Party, has been criticized for its anti-gay stance and its belief in making "God's laws" the laws of the state. As an active member of the movement in the 1990s, Angle endorsed banning pornography, making alcohol and marijuana illegal, and spreading a crackpot anti-gay conspiracy theory. These beliefs are not in line with a libertarian ideology.

by isabelladom on Fri May 05, 2023 at 01:43:53 AM EST

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