Dominionist Author Renews his Call for Martyrs
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 01:41:04 PM EST
Christian Right political operative David Lane based his recent call for Christian revolution largely on the work of Christian Reconstructionist author Peter Leithart. (Lane's provocative essay, published at World Net Daily in June was taken down without explanation after bloggers took notice.)  Lane opened with a quote from Leithart's book Between Babel and Beast:  
"Throughout Scripture, the only power that can overcome the seemingly invincible omnipotence of a Babel or a Beast is the power of martyrdom, the power of the witness to King Jesus to the point of loss and death."
 And speaking of America, which he equates with Babel, Leithart wrote:  
"If America is to be put in its place - put right - Christians must risk martyrdom and force Babel to the crux where it has to decide either to acknowledge Jesus an imperator and the church as God's imperium or to begin drinking holy blood."

Leithart published that just last year.  But in the wake of the recent Windsor decision of the Supreme Court that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, he took to the blog at First Things and renewed his call for martyrs.

In his post, "A Call to Martyrdom", Leithart argues that Windsor "presents American Christians with a call to martyrdom."  He also suggests that Christians may face a Holocaust when he wrote: "We're being sent into an oven."

Leithart seems to be being careful not to directly call for Christians to risk their lives in confrontation with the state.  Perhaps it was, in light of the David Lane flap, an effort to assure everyone that he is not advocating something that sounds too much like he is inciting sedition.

In Greek, martyria means "witness," specifically witness in a court. At the very least, the decision challenges American Christians to continue to teach Christian sexual ethics without compromise or apology. But Windsor presents a call to martyrdom in a more specific sense. There will be a cost for speaking the truth, a cost in reputation, opportunity, and funds if not in freedoms. Scalia's reference to the pagan Roman claim that Christians are "enemies of mankind" was probably not fortuitous.

He concludes by drawing on biblical stories that mention separating wheat from chaff, and inserts an image that also evokes the Holocaust.

The only America that actually exists is one in which "marriage" includes same-sex couples and women have a Constitutional right to kill their babies. To be faithful, Christian witness must be witness against America.

God has his winnowing fork in his hand, and he's ready to use it. There's likely to be a lot of chaff, blown away like mist. But there will be a harvest. We're being sent into an oven, but Jesus will crush the grain of the harvest so that, baked in the fire of the Spirit, it will become bread for the life of the world. [emphasis added]

In the introduction to Between Babel and Beast, Leithart's meaning was plain.  He wrote that Christians must respond to what he calls the heresy of "Americanism" -- to which he observes that too many of his fellow conservative Christians have conflated with Christianity itself.  He believes the correct response is for martyrdom in two senses of the term.  "Churches must repent of our Americanism," he wrote, "and begin to cultivate martyrs -- believers who are martyrs in the original sense of "witness" and in the later sense of men and women ready to follow the Lamb all the way to an imperial cross."

It is worth noting that David Lane did not back off from his call for Christians to wage war and create martyrs. He just took his essay down. (It seems likely that his political clients, such as Sen. Rand Paul, probably saw his essay as a potential obstacle to their electoral ambitions.)  Peter Leithart, the former Senior Fellow of Theology and Literature at New St. Andrews College in Moscow Idaho, and current director of the new Trinity House Institute in Birmingham, AL, has apparently also not changed his views between his book of last year and his blog post of last week.  He clearly believes that martyrdom is what is required -- and that horrific confrontation lies ahead.  

I recognize that one cannot expect fanatics to adhere to standard theological understandings, but I do want to point out that in most mainstream Christian thought, seeking to be a martyr pretty much automatically disqualifies one from being acclaimed as one. The true martyr seeks to live faithfully and non-violently, speaking truth to power in the face of mortal threat. This was as true of Jan Hus, the 598th anniversary of whose martyrdom is commemorated today (July 6), as it is of such modern-day martyrs as Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King, Jr. They were willing to die rather than recant or be cowed into silence. But in no way did they seek death. This is a critical difference that I think needs to be emphasized when we engage in discussions on the topic.

by MLouise on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 03:38:55 PM EST

What concerns me is the willingness of Beinhart, Laine and their companions to make martyrs out of their fellow citizens to destroy our government in order to establish their theocratic polity.

by khughes1963 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 03:00:19 PM EST

My apologies for getting Peter Leithart's name wrong.

by khughes1963 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 03:02:19 PM EST

Why don't the people who call for martyrdom go ahead and martyr themselves first if it's such a good thing to do?  Then the rest of us can go on with our lives.

by coralsea on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 12:58:54 PM EST
that this is not something one would want to encourage.  

Paul Hill advocated the murder of doctors as justifiable homicide for some time before he decided that rather than merely advocating that others do it, he should do it himself. He is viewed by others as a martyr. Hill himself saw himself as setting an example, that others would emulate. And others did.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 02:45:57 PM EST

Sorry for my rash post.  I guess I was thinking about the "leaders" who exhort their followers to make sacrifices that they themselves would not make.  But when one is talking about the truly zealous, I can see them taking such a step -- and encouraging others by example.

by coralsea on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 05:54:00 PM EST

The problem with 'fundamentalists' of whatever ilk is that they are excellent at cheap talk which bodes rabble-baiting but shrinking violets when the chips are down! The Muslim Brotherhood surely lacked the critical/analytical depth that would have led to an understanding of inclusion of diversity as a first step in going forward instead of hijacking the Arab Spring revolution unto itself. Morsi allies quickly appropriated power to themselves at the expense of alienating secularists without compromise & participation. Fundamentalists always claim to know "G-d's will" uncompromisingly, our Christian Right or Islamic, which a textual-literalism rubber stamps. Just look at the tea-party 100+ in our H.R. who in their deranged thinking really think their midterm election justifies blocking everything in the call to purpose. We have a way to UN-block via the next election, but the 48% in Egypt was voided via a quickly-enacted Islamic constitution that gave no credence to participatory democracy. A majority that made a way for democracy in the streets and squares held no sway once presidential/parliamentary electoral process was held. Morsi overplayed his hand in his exuberance to consolidate his power for the recently banned Brotherhood organization and self-justified everything while opposition gelled. He made sure that some imposition would be forthcoming but altogether different than he was working to achieve, even with 48 hours to recant or rethink. He had no need for a different "god's will" idea in his exclusivism. Ditto for the spokeswoman for the M.B. in Britain as she appeared on BBC World News this morning: if the Brotherhood in Britain once achieved a more solid slice of society overall, would a coup be in order? Hardly a month ago, an Islamist extremist hacked to death a military member "as an example" for Muslims being killed hither & yon and no one caring, so said.

We must await time & place for the Egyptian fate to materialize, but in the meantime we shall not hear a recantation from Morsi or his supporters. After all, they knew "G-d's will" and were just acting upon it.  It's classic fundamentalism. The M.B. in Egypt has a greater stomach for martyrdom, steeped in their particular history. The christian Right in the U.S. blow hard on their horns on cable-TV, talking rather than die-ing but fomenting mischief nevertheless.  Each will be the last to learn from the other!

by achbird65 on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:47:10 AM EST

is IMO where this country is headed if we can't stop the dominionists - and then from there to something like Iran but far worse.  I also expect that if the dominionists win, we will see multiple civil wars (after they first kill off all of the LGBT people, the atheists, the pagans, and the others they call "enemies of God"), followed by pogroms as they demand greater and greater purity of belief.

I was reading about the situation in Egypt this morning and thinking about the similarities between the fundamentalist Islamists and the dominionists... how similar they are in just about every way (the exceptions being their "Holy Book" and the name they call God - which is based on language anyway, along with their view of the person called Jesus in English).

Theocrats all... and willing to spill innocent blood to win their theocracy.

The comparison between the two fundamentalisms is quite strong and valid.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 11:49:41 AM EST

It is easy to get agitated by taking too seriously our own analogies. So let's give ourselves a break.

While there are certainly things to learn and insights to gain from other times and places and circumstances, it is a large error to conflate analogy with reality, current or historical. In fact, the differences are far, far greater and more numerous than any of the similarities.

Let's focus on the situations we actually face, which are serious enough, without adding-in the latest Middle East crisis as an intensifier.  We don't need it.  

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 12:41:20 PM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Freedom vs. Fear: Restricting Religious Liberty Isn't The Answer To Terrorism
Last week, a community meeting was held in Spotsylvania County, Va., to discuss plans by a group of Muslims who want to relocate and......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Christian Right Electoral Hegemony, Rising in the States
This is a revised, updated and retitled post I did on the long term trend of significant political progress of the Christian Right and......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Who's Been Naughty, Who's Been Nice?: The AFA Explains It All For You
If you're like me, you've been sitting around anxiously awaiting the release of the American Family Association's "Naughty or Nice" list of retailers for......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
U.S. Department Of Judeo-Christian Values?: Kasich Proposes New Religious Propaganda Arm
According to some polls, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who believes that ancient Egyptians built......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
Scripture Stories: Religious Right Claims About The `Aitken Bible' Don't Hold Up
Tomorrow several conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives plan to hold a public reading of the Aitken Bible on the East Front......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
The Tallest Statue in the Nation of an Individual
Many a day I drove on I 45 past the statue of Sam Houston.  The monument to the statesman is the largest in the......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Honoring Everyone Who Served: A Veterans Day Reflection
In 1952, a private group sought permission from government officials to erect a large cross atop Mt. Soledad near San Diego. They did it......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
One Million Maniacs?: AFA Attacks Magazine For Highlighting Family Headed By Same-Sex Couple
I have a daughter named Claire who is 21 years old and working her first job in journalism since graduating from college. I'm awfully......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
What Catholic Neo-Confederates Don't Want You To Know About Secession
During the summer of 2013 I wrote several posts about Catholic Neo-Confederates. My purpose was to explain the activities of libertarians such as Tom......
By Frank Cocozzelli (10 comments)
Sex And Common Sense: Texas Public School Reconsiders `Chastity' Speaker
A self-appointed expert on sex and relationships won't speak at an El Paso, Texas, high school - for now.Jason Evert runs an outfit called......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Two Trials that Impacted American Religion
Silent movie, Birth of a Nation, became the first blockbuster screen phenomena.  Civil Rights groups deplored the production and sought to ban it.  It......
By wilkyjr (3 comments)
The Francis Trajectory.
The recent dust-up over the meeting between Pope Francis and culture warrior Kim Davis has caused the Pontiff's stock to fall somewhat among liberals.......
By Frank Cocozzelli (11 comments)
Taking Care Of Business: Religious Right Group Plans `Religious Liberty' Ratings For Companies
My inbox this morning contained a press release from the American Family Association (AFA). The Tupelo, Miss.-based Religious Right group has exciting news: It......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Quest for Utopia
Surfing through old videos on youtube I found some interesting tapes of H. L. Hunt.  Certainly one of the original founders of the modern......
By wilkyjr (6 comments)
The Sour Grapes Of Wrath: Tenn. County Politician Seeks To Stave Off God's Vengeance
It has become a cliché to say that you spotted an article online that was so strange you first assumed it was from The......
By Rob Boston (5 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 (2 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 (1 comment)
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 (0 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 (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (2 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 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.