James Robison's Indivisible America
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Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 02:22:03 PM EST
I recall first learning of James Robison at a Christian revival meeting in Muskogee, Oklahoma.  It was reported that some felt James was the next Billy Graham. He was on track to speak to more people than Graham ever would.  
      The next occasion I had to hear James was in seminary. He had been invited to speak at chapel. This was interesting since Robison was on record as telling seminary students they needed to quit seminary because it was some sort of waste of time.  Since the controversial statement preceded him, a full chapel assembly greeted the evangelist to hear what he had to say. At the service James was humble, almost apologizing for any statements that might have offended some. He lamented the fact that he did not have more education.  He was well received and I decided to go to hear him at the local Baptist church that was hosting James.  It was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde encounter.  James started blasting just about everyone.  He made harsh comments about how church teachers needed to resign and deacons needed to quit.    I noted a middle aged couple in front of me who was apparently a bit limited in social skills.  They were having a rousing time granting approval to Robison's rages.  
     Some of the Southern Baptist Convention's churches began to sour on having James hold a regional meeting they sponsored.  It was a few months later I heard that James  made national fame by connecting with the notorious Cullen Davis.  Davis had just made media headlines with his recent trial acquittal.  He had been accused of killing his step daughter, ex-wife's lover and injuring others at a break in.  He was next accused of hiring a hit man to take out the judge in a separate trial.  James took Cullen and appointed him the head of family values at his crusades.  Davis would be leading breakout sessions on how to be a good husband!
     Robison fell on hard times in the next few  years hooking up with the Milton Green movement.  This was a doctrine that taught all illness and poverty was connected to spiritual issues.  This was a form of the prosperity gospel that taught if you knew the correct spiritual formulas you would not have to suffer illness or even death as a Christian.  This connection shot James in the proverbial  foot and churches and pastors quit inviting him.  He later attempted a comeback and distanced himself from charismatic beliefs.  Former associates told me James had gotten tired of sweaty football stadiums and preaching to crowds gathered at revival meetings.  He, like fellow pilgrim Rick Scarborough, decided the real hope for America did not lie in revivals, but rather in political activism.  
      Robison claims responsibility for the Roundtable gathering that brought together the modern Religious Right which unseated Jimmy Carter and installed  Ronald Reagan.  Recently James has sought to do the same thing he did in 1980.  He sought to draw together influential church leaders to back a GOP candidate for the highest office.  
     James' most recent attempt to change the nation is a book he is promoting through his Television ministry that he wrote with the help of Jay Richards a Senior fellow at the Discovery Institute.  James has limited education and one wonders at how much of the work is really Richards'?  Robison lends his name and affirmation to the book and it is a predicted revelation of what James believes the nation needs to adhere to.  The back cover contains endorsements from Richard Land and Mike Huckabee.  Huckabee used to work on James' staff.
     The book is laced with conspiracy theories about the country.  James warns that we face a threat to our healthcare system.  He notes that unless we dismantle this monstrosity, our private medical decisions will come under the authority of government bureaucrats.1  The book claims that our nation suffers from people like Jim Wallis of Sojourners.  The fear is that Wallis will weaken our military and create a more coercive government at home.2   The manuscript states that Wallis makes the case that the free market is just as immoral as Communism.3    Global warming is a tree hugging myth and is just the normal climate change cycle found in creation.  People who adhere to global warming just use false science.4  The idea of population control is harming the world.  Because of free market principles the births of higher human populations will actually rid the world of its poverty problems.  The conspiracy of those who want to limit the population explosion in the world is harmful.  It is "antihuman."  The work states that President Obama is against "ordinary patriotism" and considers it a "dangerous and jingoistic nationalism."6
     With the ex-evangelist's views on population it is no mystery that he is "full quiver" guy.  That is he wants American women to be more fertile.  The work claims Christians have been given a false premise on birth rates.  James believes that if Christian women produced more children the nation would be much better off. 7
     The Indivisible message is not favorable to public education.  The writers remind us that there is nothing in the Constitution about government administering education.  8   The basic idea proposed by this work is that the largest item in state budgets is unconstitutional! Since there is no competition in education according to the authors, education suffers.  In the way of better education are the teacher's unions that control both political parties the authors state.  9
     The authors view on the First Amendment is predictable.  They believe religion has been purged from the public square.  The writers believe that we have reached the sad state where the unofficial state religion is atheism.10 Robison believes that Americans United for Separation of Church and State promote practical atheism.  If God is introduced into the public debate one is accused of being  into Christian dominionism or Christian nationalism according to the book.  Thus Christian ideas are banned from the public square while atheism is welcomed.11
     The major thrust of the book is economics.  The cure all for what ails the economy is found in the book's version of laissez-faire economics.  James stated that at age 18 he opted out of Social Security.12   There is a ministerial option for clergy and James jumped at the chance.  It would prove to be a future indicator of his view toward government programs. To the former evangelist, economic truths are just as important as moral truths. 13  Robison is critical of Joseph in the Genesis account of the story of how this mistreated son became Pharaoh's secretary of state.  James says Joseph was wrong to encourage Egypt to store up portions of the crop for future needy.  Robison's vision of aiding needy is simply to encourage production.  Storing up provisions for needy people is self- defeating.  Let the market rule.14  The work claims that private charities are much more effective than government run programs.  15 For a decade Religious Right economists have wished we shut down government agencies to aid elderly, sick and helpless and allow churches to take the up the cause.  The book claims that the Bible mentions helping the poor but there is not one story of the government aiding the poor.16  Foreign aid is even called into question.  Any type of government assistance is frowned upon by these Christian writers.
     The book makes a stab at history revisionism.  It wants to set the record straight that the Great Depression was worsened by FDR's social programs.17  Religious Right local radio has gone so far as to claim FDR brought down capitalism and instigated socialism through his New Deal.  I, as many readers, had assumed that the Great Depression was caused by laissez-faire capitalism.  We are now warned by Robison and crowd that we were given the wrong information.
     An illustration of Bonnie and Clyde is used to drive home the  point that envying those who make more money than we do leads to bad attitudes.  People who think inequality is unjust aren't thinking correctly.  They are thinking like Communists.18
    The idea that the extremely wealthy need to pay higher tax rates is just envy and socialism seeking to redistribute wealth, according to the book.  There should be a flat tax where higher income people do not pay a higher per cent.19  The implication is that we think like Bonnie and Clyde, the bank robbers, if we do not go along with this.   Let the market reign free and without restraint.  To those who suggest this led to our current economic woes I am sure James and Jay would correct us.  The entire idea that 1/7 of Americans live at the poverty level is misquoted.  According to the jest of the work the poor in America are better off than ever and the wealthy are innocently vilified.
    James mentions race as an issue and claims he has been on the cutting edge of civil rights.  He does not realize his economic policies, if achieved, would return the nation to the Jim Crow era of business. He wishes to return the nation to pre-Great Depression economics where there is limited union influence, no minimum wage and no farm regulations. I wonder if the two authors realize we have already tried their economic model?    

Endnotes:  James Robison, Jay Richards, INDIVISIBLE, Faith Words,, New York, New York, 2012

  1.  pg. xiv.
  2.  pg. 61
  3.  pg. 210.
  4.  pg. 282.
  5.  pg. 296.
  6.  pg. 316.
  7.  pg. 133.
  8.  pg. 136.
  9.  Pg. 137.
  10. pg. 36.
  11. pg. 45.
  12. pg. 85.
  13. pg. 4
  14. pg. 74.
  15. pg. 158.
  16. pg. 175.
  17. pg. 178.
  18. pgs. 248-249.
  19. pg. 253.  

James Kennedy used to be known for his work in personal evangelism.  He later took up the issue of using David Barton's "research" to bash the First Amendment.

by wilkyjr on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 03:35:53 PM EST

This is a very good review of Robison's life and ministry and its impact on political life. I had seen this book but have not read it yet. I want to add that another reason this book is significant is that Robison has over the years become a major Pentecostal figure and his coauthor is a major Catholic thinker in the intelligent design movement. This book is being published by the conservative Catholic publisher Ignatius Press and being promoted as a unique coming together of Pentecostals and Catholics to "save America". In other words, this book is an important symbol on numerous levels and I am glad you alerted Talk to Action readers to it.

by gregmetzger on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 04:18:30 PM EST

James is not high profile like some of the others.  He might be the reason Reagan got elected. To those who take him lightly, they need to take a second look.

by wilkyjr on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 04:47:28 PM EST

I have had my personal confrontations with James. In 1977 I was pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in Ft. Worth. Some time in late 1976 the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram had run a two page article about the church and it ministry to the gay population of the city.

Robinson immediately took to the air denouncing the article and the church. In February of 1977 he repeated the program and I contacted the TV station where his program was broadcast in the Dallas Metroplex and ask for equal time because he attacked the church by name and under the FCC doctrine of personal attack the station was obligated to let us rebut him.

The station agreed. We were given his 30 minute time slot. He was not allowed to return broadcasting on the station until he agreed to stop making personal attacks on people and organizations which lasted about six months when he again attacked gay people by likening them to John Wayne Gacy. The Dallas Gay Alliance objected and the station gave them rebuttal time and asked Robinson to find another station for his broadcast.

After Cullen Davis became a Christian and Robinson his spiritual advisor he called Robinson over to his house one night and told him he was bothered by his collection of Asian artifacts - many were "heathen idols" so the two took a hammer to them. It was reported the Japanese government was in the process of trying to recover some of his collection which were removed from Japan during the occupation.

My assistant pastor Rev. Dusty Pruitt and I were on a live radio talk show. We were face to face with James. At some point he made the quote from 1st John about not wishing the ungodly "God bless you." He had to leave early but when he left he shook our hand and said, "God bless you."

Davis was also instrumental in starting the Council for National Policy.

by JerrySloan on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:32:50 AM EST

I understood that Robison abandoned charismatic doctrine and sought to get back with his traditional followers.  Not sure where he is at on this now.  
    Jerry thanks for update.  It was Davis, Nelson Hunt, and LaHaye that started the CNP.  It would be interesting to see how infuence Davis had on the group's start.  The former head of the Southern Baptist Home Misson Board is now head of the CNP. An older Texas Monthly has an intersting update on Davis and where he ended up.  The wife he shot eventually died of old age recently.

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