Does David Barton Endorse "Biblical slavery" For Non-Christians?
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Apr 07, 2011 at 04:22:37 PM EST
[On Wednesday, May 4, 2011 David Barton appeared on the Jon Stewart Show. I originally wrote this piece following Mike Huckabee's notorious statement (taken by some as a joke) that all Americans should be forced to listen to David Barton's teachings, at gunpoint if necessary. Barton has made a career promoting American history lies but also an entire narrative of "cultural despair", blaming American national decline on allegedly creeping secularism, a tale which according to leading conservative evangelical scholar parallels a similar German narrative that helped propel the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. As a New York Times story on Barton explained, "Mr. Barton burst onto the conservative scene in 1988, when he published a study that blamed a decline in SAT scores and other social ills, like violent crime and unwed births, on the Supreme Court decisions in 1962 and 1963 that banned prayer in public schools." For the better part of a decade David Barton's Wallbuilders web site has featured writing, by one of Barton's close colleagues, a Wallbuilders board member, that endorses Biblical slavery and repeatedly references a virulently racist Holocaust revisionist. For an in depth related article, see Rachel Tabachnick's Rushdoony and Theocratic Libertarians on Slavery]

On April 6, 2011 Jon Stewart questioned presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee about David Barton. Stewart missed a few things. For example, Barton's Wallbuilders web site has for almost a decade featured an article, by a member of Barton's Wallbuilders board of directors, that seems to endorse "Biblical slavery" for pagans and other miscreants, and favorably cites the work of a theologian who claimed the accepted Holocaust death toll was wildly inflated. The article has been on Barton's Wallbuilders web site since 2003.

Mike Huckabee is so enthusiastic about the teaching of Wallbuilders head Barton that at the March 2011 Rediscover God In America conference Huckabee stated that he wishes all Americans could be forcibly indoctrinated, at gunpoint no less, with Barton's version of American history. As Huckabee told conference attendees,

"I almost wish that there would be, like, a simultaneous telecast, and all Americans would be forced-forced at gunpoint no less-to listen to every David Barton message, and I think our country would be better for it. I wish it'd happen."
The pro-slavery article on Barton's Wallbuilders web site would seem to qualify as one of Barton's teachings given that it's written by a Wallbuilders board member and Barton refers his readers directly to the article, clearly an endorsement of it.

So does Mike Huckabee wants Americans forcibly indoctrinated with pro-slavery ideas?

It sounds absurd, but the case I outline below isn't the only indication Huckabee might have closet pro-slavery yearnings. As I detailed in a January 2008 Talk To Action story, one of Huckabee's top policy advisers while Mike Huckabee was governor of Arkansas was Christian Reconstructionist leader Rod D. Martin. Christian Reconstructionism endorses "Biblical slavery" and founder of the movement R.J. Rushdoony expressed the sentiment that African-Americans were lucky to be slaves, writing, "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.".  

Meanwhile, who is David Barton?

For a start, Barton has been tapped as an alleged "expert" on American history featured on the Glenn Beck show and more recently brought into Congress, by Representative Michele Bachmann, to teach constitutional principles to incoming new members of Congress.

Talk To Action contribute Chris Rodda, Head Researcher for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History, is probably David Barton's most dedicated critic; a Talk To Action site search on "Chris Rodda, David Barton" pulls up Rodda's seemingly endless succession of stories debunking David Barton's seemingly endless procession of history myths, distortions, and outright lies.

David Barton has built a career upon his claim that United States government was founded on Biblical precepts. This creates a major problem - if America was founded as a Christian nation, how can we account for slavery ?

The Joy of Biblical Slavery

Barton's own articles on slavery on his Wallbuilders web site stress that many of the Founding Fathers were strongly opposed to the institution of slavery (which is true) but then he refers readers to a Wallbuilders article by Barton's close colleague Stephen McDowell, which explains that although Southern Slavery was wrong, it was wrong because it wasn't Biblical slavery as defined by Christian Reconstructionist theologian R.J. Rushdoony, whose basic approach was simple - what was permissible according to Biblical scripture is permissible now: including slavery.

McDowell's article cites R.J. Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law six times in its footnotes and that's notable given that the book was Rushdoony's master work on how to implement Biblical law in the American legal system. R.J. Rushdoony's scheme included establishing stoning and burning at the stake for adultery, homosexuality, and idolatry, and the legalization of Biblical slavery. Leaders in the Christian Reconstructionism movement Rushdoony founded have for several decades now been trying to make it so.

Stephen K. McDowell appeared along with R.J. Rushdoony and other major Christian Reconstructionist leaders in a 1999 video titled God's Law And Society. You can watch some of those interviews (not McDowell's) on the Christian Reconstructionist web site The Forerunner. Here's The Forerunner editor Jay Rogers' description of the R.J. Rushdoony interview, in which Rushdoony calls for a "second American revolution" :

Not until 1973 with the publication of R.J. Rushdoony's The Institutes of Biblical Law was there an attempt at a Biblical social philosophy that uncompromisingly affirmed the validity of biblical law. Since then over 100 volumes have been published elaborating the details of Calvinistic social philosophy from a "theonomic" perspective. Led by Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, James Jordan, and Gary DeMar, theonomic authors have expounded the Mosaic law with a fullness of application to modern society never before seen in Church history. Rushdoony passed on in 2001. The work of the Chalcedon Foundation is carried on by his son, Mark.

To reiterate, although David Barton might deny it one can reasonably assume he endorses the re-introduction of slavery given that an article on Barton's own Wallbuilders web site (which Barton links to in his own Wallbuilders articles), by a member of the Wallbuilders board of directors (Barton also serves on the board of an organization run by McDowell) endorses "Biblical slavery" as defined by Christian Reconstructionist titan R.J. Rushdoony, whose idiosyncratic views included rejecting Copernicus' Heliocentric model of the Solar System. In his master work The Institutes of Biblical Law, Rushdoony argued that that less than one million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War Two and asserted most of those died from cold rather than execution.

In Stephen McDowell's article The Bible, Slavery, and America's Founders, which has been on Barton's Wallbuilders web site since 2003, McDowell writes,

God's laws concerning slavery provided parameters for treatment of slaves, which were for the benefit of all involved. God desires all men and nations to be liberated. This begins internally and will be manifested externally to the extent internal change occurs. The Biblical slave laws reflect God's redemptive desire, for men and nations.

McDowell then lists various types of slavery which can be legal according to scripture from the Old Testament books of Leviticus, Exodus, and Deuteronomy. According to McDowell, "pagans [non-Christians] could be permanent slaves" and to bolster this position McDowell quotes theologian R.J. Rushdoony:

"since unbelievers are by nature slaves, they could be held as life-long slaves" 1 without piercing the ear to indicate their voluntary servitude (Lev. 25:44-46). This passage in Leviticus says that pagans could be permanent slaves and could be bequeathed to the children of the Hebrews."

Rushdoony, the founder of Christian Reconstructionism, was a virulent racist who wrote that Africans were lucky to become slaves in America, claimed the Holocaust death toll was wildly inflated, and maintained that the Sun orbits the Earth.

As Rushdoony wrote in his 1973 book Institutes of Biblical Law, which explained how to implement Biblical scriptural directives in a modern legal system,

"The (Biblical) Law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. It both requires that they be dealt with in a godly manner and also that the slave recognizes his position and accepts it with grace."

Stephen McDowell's article is not incidental to Wallbuilders writing on slavery - David Barton has two major articles on slavery on the Wallbuilders web site and both refer to McDowell's article "For more information on this issue." McDowell's article provides an intellectual sleight-of-hand which allows Barton to publicly advance the point that many of the Founding Fathers opposed slavery (which is true) while still supporting "Biblical slavery."

To sum up McDowell's argument, slavery was not originally in God's plan - it entered the world, along with sin, when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil and were subsequently banished by God from the Garden. Thus evil entered creation and to manage the mess, God gave Moses Biblical Law, including laws concerning slavery - which Stephen McDowell presents as a regrettable evil that will be unnecessary when all the world's people are converted to Christianity.

McDowell and Barton are close allies - McDowell serves on Barton's Wallbuilders board and Barton in turn serves on the Board of Directors of McDowell's Providence Foundation. Stephen McDowell also has accompanied David Barton on his "spiritual heritage" tours of Washington DC

The problem with the historical institution of slavery in America wasn't that it was sinful or that it went, in principle, against God's will. No, according to David Barton's fellow Wallbuilders Board of Directors member Stephen McDowell, Southern Slavery was simply the wrong sort of slavery :

Examination of the Biblical view of slavery enables us to more effectively address the assertion that slavery was America's original sin. In light of the Scriptures we cannot say that slavery, in a broad and general sense, is sin. But this brief look at the Biblical slave laws does reveal how fallen man's example of slavery has violated God's laws, and America's form of slavery in particular violated various aspects of the law, as well as the general spirit of liberty instituted by Christ.

McDowell's argumentative reliance on R.J. Rushdoony, to justify Biblical slavery is notable given Rushdoony's other views on what the implementation of Mosaic Law in the American legal system would entail. As leading authority on Christian Reconstructionism Frederick Clarkson, describes in a Public Eye article titled, Christian Reconstructionism - Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence,

Epitomizing the Reconstructionist idea of Biblical "warfare" is the centrality of capital punishment under Biblical Law. Doctrinal leaders (notably Rushdoony, North, and Bahnsen) call for the death penalty for a wide range of crimes in addition to such contemporary capital crimes as rape, kidnapping, and murder. Death is also the punishment for apostasy (abandonment of the faith), heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, "sodomy or homosexuality," incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and, in the case of women, "unchastity before marriage."

David Barton himself carries some troubling baggage. As Americans United For The Separation of Church and State's Rob Boston details, in 1991 Barton gave several speeches before virulently racist, white supremacist groups including at Pastor Pete Peters Christian Identity church in Colorado :

Aside from being a virulent anti-Semite, Peters has advocated the death penalty for homosexuals. According to the Anti-Defamation League, other speakers at the event included white supremacist leader and 1992 presidential candidate James "Bo" Gritz, a leader of the radical and increasingly violent militia movement, and Malcolm Ross, a Holocaust denier from Canada. In November of that same year, Barton spoke at Kingdom Covenant College in Grants Pass, Oregon, another "Christian Identity" front group with ties to Peters.

More recently, Barton was, along with (now deceased) Massachusetts pastor Peter Marshall, one of two Christian nationalists selected as "experts" for a panel that advised the State of Texas on proposed changes to Texas public school social studies curriculum. The two recommended removing Civil Right Movement giants Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall from the curriculum. Even more telling was the panel's proposal to rename the Slave Trade, as "Atlantic Triangular Trade."

Which brings us back around to Stephen McDowell's citation of R.J. Rushdoony, as an authority on Biblical slavery. What else did he write on the subject ? Consider this passage, from Rushdoony's book The Politics of Guilt and Pity,

"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, materially and spiritually as well as personally. The Negroes were sold from a harsh slavery into a milder one."

In other words, Antebellum slaves in the American South had it lucky. We cannot say whether David Barton or Stephen McDowell are racist, but McDowell's citation of R.J. Rushdoony is certainly telling, given Rushdoony's unabashed views. On pages 509-512 of Institutes of Biblical Law we find the following,

All men are NOT created equal before God; the facts of heaven and hell, election and reprobation make clear that they are not equal. Moreover, an employer has property rights to prefer whom he will in terms of "color" creed, race or national origin.

Related reading

The Libertarian Theocrats: The Long, Strange History of R.J. Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionism,
by Michael J. McVicar, The Public Eye

Frederick Clarksons four-part series on Reconstructionism in The Public Eye including Part Three, No Longer Without Sheep.

The Christian Right, Dominionism, and Theocracy,
by Chip Berlet, The Public Eye

Bruce Wilson on the U.S. Taxpayers Party/Constitution Party's relationship with Reconstructionism at Talk to Action.

Rand Paul and the Influence of Christian Reconstructionism, by Julie Ingersoll, Religion Dispatches

Look what's happening in this Religious Right state.

They're chopping funding for Medical care for the poor and elderly.  (They're now even talking at the national level about "fixing Social Security".)

They're eliminating all state funding for homeless programs.

A law is in the works where if you receive aid, you have to first take and pass a drug test - at your own expense.

They've cut the number of weeks one can receive unemployment, and made it easier for corporations to squirm out of paying.

They're trying to force creationism into the classroom.

They've eliminated tenure for teachers, and are now going after college professors (thus jeopardizing academic freedom).

They're making it much harder for unions (which protect the people against the greed of corporations).

People won't have any recourse if things go bad after they are finished... except maybe the churches, which will require you to join, and then expect a slap on the head to fix your problems (and rant at you for "lacking faith" or "hidden sin") when it doesn't).  When you look at this move by people like Huckabee, it becomes obvious.

They want the poor to become slaves, and they want more Americans to become poor.

There is only one word that properly describes the Religious Right:  EVIL.

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 09:57:59 AM EST

It's amazing how Biblical concepts and phrases can become so distorted by the pride and greed of man. While the gospel message is setting people free, from the oppression of sin (compulsions and passions by which we destroy ourselves) the oppression of others, illness, even poverty as we learn of God's great care for even the sparrow who falls. Set free we are to become part of God's great care for creation, but instead we through pride feel that we have now reached the top and can rule over one another, enslaving others thereby showing how close to God we are. Indeed, if we could see the mirror image of our pride, greed, and small minded power struggle, in close frame with God's compassion and righteous grace it might bring us to our knees. Thanks for this information -- I just can't go to those sites any longer.

by chaplain on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 10:15:14 AM EST
Please don't preach.

Right now I'm so bitter and full of rage that I can barely think.  I spent hours last night trying to discipline myself to sleep, because the "good Christian" doctors don't want me to have effective pain medicines ("You'll get ADDICTED!!!" - said with a sneer because we're poor).  I've been unemployed for almost a year now, and because of those damned b*st*rds, I cannot receive any form of aid - even though our income last year was less than 2/3 of the poverty line.  Even food stamps is virtually impossible in this state - and you're limited to only three months in a three year period (unless you're lucky).  Unemployment - I don't qualify because my last (very part time) job was as a graduate assistant.  

We've totally fallen through the holes.  Our only income is my wife's part-time job.

"Good Christian" businessmen screwed me out of many tens of thousands of dollars when I was in business.  When they learned I am part American Indian, 60% of them dropped me within a month (several "Good Christians" accused me of lying to them and deceiving them before they dropped my company).  We got into bad situations several times because those "Good Christians" refused to pay their just bills (one told me that he needed the money so he could take a cruise - and never paid up, another told me he wasn't paying me because I wasn't at his shop entrance every morning when the doors opened... "reasons" like that).  They all made it painfully clear how "Christian" they were, but you see how they treated people.

When in those bad situations, the churches helped a few times... but with strings attached.  The last time (when we went without electricity for three months), the church told us that there were people in worse shape than we were... and it was supporting a family of scammers who during that period bought a new car.  Of course, "They have children!!!" and the guy was working (I am disabled and cannot do general hard manual labor).  The same woman also told me that I had to cut my hair and assimilate, by the way. (Typical "Good Christian" - a racist bigot.)    The same people tell us things like "Get a Job" and "Everyone hurts a little now and then!".  They tell us "You need to pray!" (as if we haven't been) and "God helps those who help themselves!"  They're heartless, cruel, and selfish.

Anyway, people who preach "Jesus" have ALWAYS been the problem.   Huckabee and his ilk are only an extension of those attitudes.  They're winning, and innocent people are going to pay the price.  

(And for those who don't know, I've been a Christian since infancy.)

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 10:38:24 AM EST

I still have in my file an apology letter from the city of Lufkin, Texas for inviting Barton to do his thing on race relations.  He showed a cartoon of a black man trembling with huge lips.  On either side of him were two men identified as Democrats who were holding a gun to his head.

by wilkyjr on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 10:37:30 AM EST
Thanks for the laugh... I needed one.  Barton is unbelievable!!!

That he'd be so stupid and racist (and wrong) is amusing to me (but not unexpected).  The fact that he did that in the public is what made me laugh - talk about a fail!!!

I just wish people would hear about this stuff... they might not pay as much attention to him.

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 10:52:16 AM EST

Are there any pictures of Barton's offensive cartoon?

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 05:53:03 PM EST

The belief that African-Americans only support the Democratic party because government supports them as cronies. This belief is closely tied to the RW's Ayn Rand-ian Promethean myth as well as Modern/Symbolic racist beliefs. That is, AAs are (purportedly) dependent on government because they lack a work ethic. Moreover, AAs are held hostage in the cartoon, which speaks to conditions of dependency, both revisiting slavery as well the RW Horatio Alger myth, which says that certain individual are developmentally impaired regarding a work ethic.

The elements of RW mythology fit together just as Dominionist beliefs fit together, in a comprehensive set of interlocking beliefs. Caricatures have a vividness that makes them easy to remember and are easily available so there's not much strain cognitively speaking.

The beliefs invoked in the cartoon have a positive, self-serving stereotype, too. The idea -- since Calvinism -- is that the virtuous are rewarded and the wicked punished. The implication is that the disadvantaged deserve their fate and their disadvantagement is itself a sign of their sinfulness. In other words, it's a 'positive' rationalization for prejudice.

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis
by colinski on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 06:27:32 PM EST

I've never been able to put my finger on the religious right's insistence that the state providing assistance for it's citizens was anathema until I went and started reading the article at Wallbuilders.  It seems that this hasn't been touched on yet (apologies if it has and I missed it):

"Rushdoony writes:

Thus, the only kind of slavery permitted is voluntary slavery, as Deuteronomy 23:15,16 makes very clear. Biblical law permits voluntary slavery because it recognizes that some people are not able to maintain a position of independence. To attach themselves voluntarily to a capable man and to serve him, protected by law, is thus a legitimate way of life, although a lesser one. The master then assumes the role of the benefactor, the bestower of welfare, rather that the state, and the slave is protected by the law of the state."

This I find absolutely amazing and somewhat startling.   And, Rushdoony and his followers are not representing the founding some 230 years ago but speaking for a contemporary viewpoint consistent with some during the founding period.

It's apparent from this Biblical world view, at least to me, that the evil of the state* is that it deprives the righteous Christian of means the benefit of accumulating voluntary slaves.

Now it clicks as to what the fuss is about.  It's much clearer now why they insist that when the state provides any assistance pertaining to the welfare of it's citizens, they consider it state enslavement.  A chilling mentality.  Thanks Bruce (and I don't mean this sarcastically : )).  And now I'll finish reading through.

*in this case the state being the voice of the people.

by jimmiraybob on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 12:47:06 PM EST

In addition to several articles by Bruce Wilson on this topic, the following Talk2action articles provide insight into this concept that a social safety net is enslavement and that the ultimate freedom will be obtained by reducing federal government and enforcing adherence to biblical law (at state or local level). These include Rushdoony and Theocratic Libertarians on Slavery, explaining the movements need to glorify the Confederacy, and Part Two and Part Three of my series on "Biblical Capitalism," which feature numerous quotes from Christian Nationalist textbooks.

Also enlightening is a February 2011 article on the Christian Kinist website which has an excerpt of a speech by Rushdoony titled "The Return to Slavery."  If you're not familiar with "Kinism," this is the new, less obvious term for white supremacism.  Christian Reconstructionist leaders have tried to claim that Rushdoony would not approve of Kinism but Kinists keep using his articles to defend their beliefs.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 06:54:37 PM EST

and Christian Identity?

by zowie on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 04:09:41 AM EST
This one is from someone who appears to subscribe to the belief, so it's authoritative.

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis
by colinski on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 10:59:21 PM EST

The last Rushdoony quote is quite interesting: "All men are NOT created equal before God." The Declaration of Independence, which conservatives and libertarians look to for their inspiration contains the following in the second paragraph: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." If all men are created equal by God, then they have equal rights. Over the past two centuries we have tried to perfect our union by expanding the concept of "men" to include women and all persons through various constitutional amendments. Thus, the Christian Reconstructionists who have a large influence on the Religious Right, the Republican Party, and the Tea Party movement are at their basic core belief un-American. It is therefore not surprising that the political operatives running the Tea Party movement, for example Gary North and the Ron Paul wing of the movement, only believe in the Constitution as it existed in 1791. And, sometimes, only the version that existed in 1789. Thus, at best they accept the Constitution with the Bill of Rights. All else is jettisoned as unconstitutional--especially the post-Civil War amendments. And they wonder why they are perceived as racists! And they get away with claiming that they are super patriots!

by JAMESCAMINACIIII on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 02:11:53 PM EST
that some of these same people actually want to overthrow the constitution... it makes sense.

They're using the word "patriot" to get support, but they don't have a clue what it really means.  They look to the WORST about America for their inspiration, instead of to the BEST.

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 09:37:46 AM EST

...I think that he's friends with Engle is more cause for concern.

by OldChaosoftheSun on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 02:32:10 AM EST
...I mean, as far as muckraking goes.  The history textbooks are a huge deal as well, but, unfortunately, few people seem to buy that most of the theology is from Rushdoony, and, even if you manage to tell them about it, they look at you like you must be a conspiracy wing nut.

Hopefully one of these days one of these dominionists will screw up, doing something horrific and public forcing an examination of their theology in the media.

by OldChaosoftheSun on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 02:34:48 AM EST

And, I'd add that Engle and Barton are arguably in the same movement. I used to associate David Barton more closely with Christian Reconstructionism, but I learned he was an Oral Roberts University (placing him squarely in the charismatic camp) and, more recently, I found out that Barton is a longtime close friend of Cindy Jacobs--as Jacobs describes in her book Possessing the Gates of The Enemy, on pages 21-22 in an anecdote Jacobs tells of allegedly miraculously saving, through intercessory prayer,  David Barton and his wife Cheryl Barton from a likely car accident due to faulty wheel bearings. As Jacobs goes on to write, on page 52,

" In 1988 Generals of Intercession sponsored a seminar in the Phoenix, Arizona, area to shake that state for God. Its purpose was to systematically tear down strongholds that have hindered God's move in Arizona. David Barton was the morning speaker. He shared how in the single year of 1962, 39 million students and more than two million teachers were barred from doing what public schools have done since our nation's founding--offering a few moments of prayer."

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 09:57:48 AM EST

Anyone who has read the thenomics of the various Christian Reconstructionist writers knows their goal is to reduce the general population to a state of drone workers who can only afford to buy from and be entirely beholden to the "company store".

For over 20 years Fred Clarkson has been telling us about Rushdoony and his ilk's goal to only allow "godly" families to populate the earth.

In Rushdoony's state there will be no prisons as there will only be misdemeanors and capital crimes and the penalty for capital crimes will be carried out almost immediately with very little time for higher appeals.

Miscreants will be indentured to those whom they have offended or stolen from.

Paul & Patti Pew-Warmer sit comfortably in their sanctuaries Sunday after Sunday and apparently do not have a clue as to what their leader's have in mind for a "Christian" America nor have they stopped once to think about or ask the question, "it's a Christian America, now what?"

As Rushdoony disciple and California political advisor John Stoos noted in a talk in February, 1995 at The Center for Ethics and Social Policy of Berkeley's Theological Union, "There is no such thing as a pluralistic society."

Stoos also asserted American society should be founded on "Christ's kingship" and biblical law.

When Marty Kassman of the ACLU, who is Jewish, challenged Stoos on his statements Stoos replied in the Christian society he envisioned "You would not have total acceptance. you would feel more at home in Israel."

In my own experience with Stoos when I questioned him about room for other religions like Buddhists in Rushdoony's society, he chuckled and replied, "There would be room for Buddhists, I just don't know how much."

by JerrySloan on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 05:09:11 AM EST

Room at the gallows or in front of a firing line.  Others wouldn't probably even make it that far.

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 10:03:12 AM EST

I am glad that you have resurfaced an important point.  Most of us are in serious denial about the profound differences in world views involved here, and the consequences that result from those differences.

Rushdoony et al, view deviance from approved forms of Christianity, and approved forms of marriage and sexuality as "treason" against God's institutions. Most of the deeper thinkers in this faction recognize that theonomy and its political manifestation, theocracy, is probably a long, long way off, recognizing that the degree of perfect conformity to their ideas of what God requires of all of us as individuals, as well as collectively will take more time and involve more details than any of us can imagine.  But that does not mean inaction in the present. Quite to the contrary. There is much to be done, and they have not been slackers.

What is most remarkable to me is not that people like Stoos hold such views, or the frankness with which they sometimes express them.  What is remarkable is the radical lack of interest on the part of people whose core values are threatened by the growth in power and influence the likes of Stoos and the worldview that animates and informs their politics. Or that they do not share a vision of constitutional democracy that is anything remotely like what most Americans would recognize.

When Stoos says that there is no such thing as pluralism, it is an invalidation of foundational values that we have taken centuries to develop as far as we have:  Values related to religious equality under the law, and the necessary culture of tolerance and respect that goes with it.  Pluralism means these things taken together. But Stoos et al, do not recognize the validity of pluralism.  It stands in the way of their goals. Pluralism is a legitimation of things that deviances from or obstacles to what they believe God requires. That is one of the main reasons why there is a low intensity religious war going on in America.  I wrote about all this in my 1997 book, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy.  The details have changed, but the basics remain the same since then.

This site was started in considerable part because those of us who have researched and written about these things over many years thought that having a place where we could publish about and discuss these things in ways that are consistent with our values would make a difference in adding depth and breadth to the community of knowledge and concern about these things; and in so doing, perhaps find some fresh approaches to how to think and act in light of the theocratic initiatives in our time.  

I don't know if we have made much progress.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 01:23:28 PM EST

Hi Jerry,

Remember that 2005 SF-area conference with anointing from airplanes, etc.? Well, two of Ed Silvoso's people report that Julius Oyet was there, and there's footage of Oyet saying he helped co-write the Uganda bill.

In turn, Silvoso convened the 1999 Singapore meeting that launched the International Coalition of Apostles. ICA's long-time head Peter Wagner, Silvoso's close colleague, writes (in his 2008 book "Dominion!") that their movement's Dominion (or Kingdom Now) theology traces directly to Rushdoony's ideas.

Fred predicted this trajectory in his "No Longer Without Sheep" article. Now it has arrived.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 08:30:52 PM EST

This is one instance in which it's best to ignore the Christian veneer and examine the political ideology of those advocating slavery. The separate spheres of politics may remain intact but there's often a question of whether we're dealing with religious figures who dabble in politics or politicians eager to wrap themselves in the cloak of religion. Rushdoony and McDowell's embrace of inequality and slavery are significant details which remove the need to treat them as a religious figures

I came to the realization somewhat recently after years of pondering that much of rightwing thought was understandable if one dispensed with the democratic charade and viewed it as possible authoritarianism. Those who have read John Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience" or any of Robert Altemeyer's work would understand this point and I strongly recommend their work to anyone who hasn't. Despite the right's professed support for representative democracy and its institutions, a substantial portion of the rightwing is authoritarian and has -- at best -- only a nominal support for democracy besides having a distorted concept of what democracy actually is.

The democratic facade is thinnest in the area of economics, and this is why US support for despots rarely raises widespread objections within the US but any deviance by foreign leaders and their countries on economic matters does. Moreover, the definition of economic injustice by many on the political right consists of offenses against the monied classes. It's an attitude that almost invariably favors the rich over the poor. And even when the rhetoric purports to serve those in society who aren't privileged, it does this through oxymoronic measures that aid the rich, such as supply-side economics and all its variants.

Rushdoony's support for inequality and McDowell's support for slavery are surprising for their candor but not for their substance. Substitute collective bargaining for slavery and you have the modern equivalent of the attitude. And what's often misunderstood about authoritarianism is the distinction between leaders and followers. Rushdoony and McDowell are undoubtedly either RWA leaders or Double-high Authoritarians, who dominate and manipulate others while demanding allegiance in return. Even the theology they cite is authoritarian, besides the fact that it's massively distorted and scarcely resembles anything taught by Jesus of Nazareth.

The following site has a good treatment of the work of Altemeyer as covered by Dean:

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis
by colinski on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 05:25:02 AM EST

We had Bob as a guest front pager in 2007.  His book on authoritarianism is very useful, as is John Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience" which drew heavily on Altemeyer's work in helping Dean understand and articulate what it was about authoritarian conservatives that troubled him.

But as it turns out, Bob was no better a prognosticator of presidential politics than any of the rest of us, as his interesting essay makes clear.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 01:42:56 PM EST

and purchase copies of Chris Rodda's Liars for Jesus.  Someone should make sure Jon Stewart gets a copy with a suggestion to interview Chris.  The other copy should go to Mike Huckabee, preferably handed to him in a public venue so there are witnesses to him receiving it.  Mr. Huckabee should also be told that the REAL truth does not need to be learned at gunpoint.

by monarchmom on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 02:48:04 PM EST

...The Interview between Jon Stewart and Huckabee about Barton is phenomenal.  I feel a little bad for Huckabee that Stewart zeroed in only on Barton, but Huckabee brought it on himself.

I watched some of Barton's Material.  Unfortunately, nobody goes into how deeply propagandist his productions are.  His "American Heritage" series on YouTube is gaudy and disturbingly sappy.

by OldChaosoftheSun on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 03:00:01 PM EST

Try a Talk To Action site search on the search times "Chris Rodda" & "David Barton" and you'll have a few months reading on the subject.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 11:55:33 PM EST

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