'Constitution' Course Suggested for Public Employees Produced by Theocratic Southern Nationalists
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 06:43:12 PM EST
Maryland's Carroll County Commissioners are requesting that employees attend a class produced by a Christian Reconstructionist organization called the Institute on the Constitution.  The class is to be taught by the Institute's David Whitney, chaplain of both the Maryland League of the South and the Southern National Congress.  The Baltimore Sun's article on the class described it as having "biblical overtones" and Whitney as "basing his teachings on the biblical view of law and government." In this case, the biblical worldview is the same one espoused by Rousas Rushdoony - a worldview calling for American law to be reconstructed to align with one interpretation of biblical law and to strip the federal government of regulatory power.

[2/25/12: The classes were focused on the Maryland Constitution. The class for public employees took place on Thursday and the Baltimore Sun reported there was "no proselytizing." Apparently the journalist was limiting the definition of proselytizing to overt calls for religious conversion. A class for the public was held on Friday and Saturday.]

"Constitution" classes are a ploy being used all over the country.  What could be wrong with a class on our nation's Constitution (or state constitutions)?  These classes are taught from the viewpoint of "theocratic libertarianism," the Christian "Dominionist" belief that after the regulatory powers have been stripped from the federal government, society will be kept in check at the local and state level through strict adherence to their narrow interpretation of biblical law.

American's United's Rob Boston (a contributor to Talk2action) and Deborah A. Jeon, of the Maryland ACLU, both commented in the Baltimore Sun article on their respective organizations' opposition to the class. It is being paid for with public funds and public employees are being coerced to attend.

Institute on the Constitution

The Institute producing the Constitution course was co-founded by brothers Michael and Stephen Peroutka and is housed at their law offices.  Michael Peroutka was the 2004 presidential candidate for the Constitution Party. Formerly called the U.S. Taxpayers Party, the party was founded by Howard Phillips, and its goals include restoring "our law to its biblical foundations." Stephen Peroutka is chairman of the National Pro-Life Action Center and on the board of the Conservative Caucus (also founded by Howard Phillips).

The Institute on the Constitution's website is titled "The American View" and media
outreach includes a radio program by the same name hosted by Peroutka and  John Lofton. The theme of the radio show is that it is the duty of civil government to protect "God-given rights," to "acknowledge God" and to "make God known," and the duty of the citizen to oppose or abolish any government that infringes on those rights.

The Institute also offers training on jury nullification, which is encouraging jury members to oppose laws they believe are not valid under their interpretation of the Constitution. David Whitney, who will teach the Carroll County Constitution course, takes credit for training aspiring politicians and a Tea Party leader in New Jersey through the classes offered by the Institute.  

If you browse through the webpages of the Institute on the Constitution, you'll find numerous writings by other leading Christian Reconstructionist writers, including Rushdoony on "The Meaning of Theocracy." Rushdoony wrote,

In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had.

This is the curious draw of theocratic libertarianism - the idea that it will provide freedom from the state.

Whitney, like many Christian Reconstructionists, claims that Abraham Lincoln was a "murderous tyrant" who "fomented" an unnecessary war, including in one of The American View radio programs with Lofton and Whitney.  

They promote a book on Lincoln written by Thomas DiLoreno and marketed at the Institute on the Constitution's online store.  

In DiLorenzo's book, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, DiLorenzo claims that the Civil War was an imperialistic effort of "dishonest Abe" to destroy the free market economy of the South. DiLorenzo is faculty at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a center for Austrian School Economics. (In his first hearing as chair of the House Financial  Services Committe, Rep. Ron Paul had two Austrian School economists speak, including DiLorenzo.)

Like many Dominionists, the Christian Reconstructionists leading and promoted by the Institute on the Constitution have a neo-Confederate outlook.  David Whitney is described by the Baltimore Sun as a "conservative pastor," but he is the chaplain for both the Maryland League of the South and the Southern National Congress. The former is designated as a neo-confederate hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the latter holds annual conferences of delegates from Southern states. The first congress in 2008 was advertised as,

The SNC is a representative assembly of citizens of the Southern States, providing an alternative, legitimate forum to express Southern grievances and advance Southern interests in a way that is no longer possible through today's political process or the major political parties.

The SNC has produced a manifesto including the following.
"We believe the South is not only an authentic nation, but also the last authentic Western civilization in the historic sense of the word, especially in contrast to today's America, with its militant secularism, tawdry commercialism, and infantile celebrity worship that pass for civilization. We have little in common with the people of Boston, New York, San Francisco, or Seattle. If these States want homosexual "marriage," if they want to turn their children over to the government to raise, if they want to sink into socialist dependency, if they want to submerge their communities in aliens from the Third World, if they want to disarm and render themselves helpless before criminals or a predatory state (assuming they can tell the difference), that's their choice. But it's not what we Southerners choose, or would choose if we had the chance.

The manifesto continues, with claims that the "Southern Nation" is oppressed.
130 years ago the last occupying Federal troops left the South after Reconstruction. ("Reconstruction" was the Yankee word for looting what they missed stealing or destroying during the War). Yet today we're still occupied; not by foreign troops, but by an alien and hostile ideology, and by all the commercial and political power it commands. Like any people under occupation, Southerners have shown the usual varied responses. Many of us resist the best we can, keeping the spirit of liberty alive. For every Confederate flag or monument that comes down, we raise a dozen new ones in our hearts. Others are crushed in spirit; and when the conqueror, having taken their goods, then tries to rob them of their dignity, telling them they're worthless, lazy, depraved, bigoted, and ignorant, they believe it and willingly accept second-class status in the Empire.

In an episode of The American View radio, Lofton interviewed Whitney about his attendance at the Southern National Congress in 2009.

The Institute on the Constitution/The American View website has a "Profiles in Courage" page  that includes the late Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Reconstructionist who introduced bills in the Georgia legislature for everything from abolishing drivers' licenses to requirements for women to present evidence that any miscarriage occurred naturally or face felony charges.  

The institute's website includes numerous contributions and links to sermons from other Reconstructionists including William Einwechter and Joseph Morecraft III.  These include claims that women holding public office is a violation of "creation order. Other articles attack public schools as Satan's way of destroying Christianity.

The Institute on the Constitution leaders promote and attend Reconstructionist events. In a 2006 website post, John Lofton summarizes an American Vision Conference, including speeches from leading Reconstructionists Gary DeMar and Gary North.

This is the organization behind a course that Carroll County Maryland is paying for with public funds and coercing public employees to attend. This is a course taught by theocrats - ones who teach that Abraham Lincoln was a monster and that good Americans must oppose our government if it does not enforce their "biblical worldview."  

Also see:
For a better understanding of how Dominionists believe that they will gradually gain control of American society, read a previous Talk2action.org article with quotes from Christian Reconstructionist writer Gary North,  son-in-law of Rousas Rushdoony and a scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

According to Gary North, Christian Reconstructionist constitutionalism is not at all the same as the US Constitution.  North appended to Westminster's Confession a blistering rebuttal of Rodney Clapp's 1987 critique of Christian Reconstruction, "Democracy as Heresy," arguing that he is advocating a charter-based government like the Puritan commonwealth in colonial New England.  Rather than refuting Clapp's claim that Christian Reconstructionists seek to dismantle "the" Constitution, North reveals:

Reconstructionists do indeed want a decentralized republic whose primary charter is the Bible. We would never say that the Bible is the only charter. Calvinists believe in creeds, after all. We believe in other kinds of written documents: covenants, contracts, and charters. Calvinists invented constitutionalism. But all covenants, contracts, and charters, like all creeds, are subject to the ultimate authority of the Bible. (321)

So North means constitutionalism, NOT the US Consitution.  And even if the US Constitution was left to stand, it would be subject to their interpretation of the "ultimate authority of the Bible."  Of course, it is very convenient that when they say "constitution" potential supporters think they mean the sanctity of the US Constitution when they mean something a bit different.

Christian Reconstruction's (re)definition of "constitution" is disturbing enough without all the neo-confederate rhetoric the conveners of this most recent "Institute of the Constitution" which just adds all kinds of scariness.

I become increasingly convinced that these folks wouldn't mind another shot at the English Civil War, Thirty Years War, and the US Civil War all wrapped into one neat little package.  

by ulyankee on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 10:52:50 AM EST

The Baltimore Sun article reported one of the Carroll County Commissioners as saying they had not looked into the background of the organization offering the course but they apparently had no concerns about this.  Are they that naive?  

As you've pointed out, constitutionalism means very different things to different people.  

by Rachel Tabachnick on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 11:12:58 AM EST

The first article I read about this issue indicated that the seminar would be about the Maryland State Constitution. That was over at Americans United. I just checked, and their article has not been changed. It's posted here: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/carroll/bs-md-ca-consti tution-class-20120223,0,4011531.story

This article and comments make it appear to be about the US Constitution. Either way it is very troubling. But I am left wondering if there is religious language in the Maryland Constitution, made null and void by the extension of the Bill of Rights to cover the states but never repealed and removed, upon which the seminar leaders could focus to make their points.

by MLouise on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 01:04:56 PM EST
... and you are right.  The organization teaches a course on the U.S. Constitution but the class for county was about the Maryland Constitution.  Given the instructor's Southern nationalist leanings this could be even more problematic than I indicated in the article.  

I've been looking into some of the state constitutions because of my work on the school vouchers effort.  There is an organized effort to get the strongly worded statements prohibiting public financing of religious activities and schools out of some state constitutions.  However, in this case, these targeted states have stronger prohibitive language than the U.S. Constitutions.  

by Rachel Tabachnick on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 02:39:25 PM EST

I sure hope they never get nukes!
And the remarks about Seattle...
I am a proud citizen of the Peoples' Republic of Olympia, Washington, but we also have our fringe groups and not a few nuts among them.

by rdrjames on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 06:38:26 PM EST

Also note that the first Southern National Congress accepted Maryland as a "Represented State."  

The "Remonstrance and Petition for a Redress of Grievances" is interesting.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 04:50:19 PM EST

This is unbelievable. I am appaled at the naïveté of Maryland's government that they could allow such preposterous shenanigans.

by PastorJennifer on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 05:48:09 AM EST

I emailed the League of the South a while back and asked them a question. I told them I was a non-trinitarian christian living deep in Mississippi, and what would be the consequences for me (and my family) if the goal of a southern, independent 'Christian' nation ever came about here in the U.S.

They did reply, and said basically that my religious beliefs would be tolerated.

Somehow, I did not quite believe them.

Thanks Rachel; not only for this article, but for all of the work and research that you do.

As an aside, since the Southern Baptists are taking the additional name of 'Great Commission' Baptists, maybe the Southern States should follow suit and be called the 'Great Commission' States.

by COinMS on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 06:52:28 AM EST

Nice word... meaning it's something not acceptable but will be allowed to continue even though it is found to be odious.

I find it interesting that they used that word, considering the sermons I've heard about tolerance.  The preachers said that tolerance was the first step towards forcing people to join in... the usual "Bad Things" preached against were gays.  According to the sermons (heard a few times in widely different churches including steeplejacked mainstream), if you tolerate something, then you will be pushed to accept it as equal to your own "good" practices, and then when that happened you will be pushed to practice it yourself.  The proverb of the Camel's Nose was often associated with tolerating.

Like usual, their preaching was pure BS and doesn't match reality.

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 12:13:50 PM EST

Preached. They are the kinds of authoritarians both in leaders an followers who want to purge the society, "their society," of all elements not part of what they identify as their culture an religion an also "race." Pernicious an persistent an single minded. All characteristics of those who win. We must fallow the semper virgilus or always vigilant to heart if we are ever going to stop them from realizing their dream of a Holy American Empire.

by Nightgaunt on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 09:22:08 PM EST

People who are not citizens should not be forced to get this course. There is little on the constitution that applies to them. It's apples/oranges, car insurance comparisons , and all that complicated stuff to them.

by wikimouse on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 04:09:47 PM EST

People who are not citizens should not be forced to get this course. There is little on the constitution that applies to them. It's apples/oranges, car insurance comparisons , and all that complicated stuff to them.

by wikimouse on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 04:10:05 PM EST

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