It Takes A Militia
When president Obama was reelected in 2012, a Texas man named Micah Hurd earned his 15 minutes of fame by launching a petition
to the White House to let Texas secede from the Union. The effort might have gone unnoticed -- except that it drew 125,000 signatures and made national news. (The White House rejected
Since then, the movement in support of the far right notion that states have the right to "nullify" federal court decisions and legislation as well as the right to secede from the Union, has grown. Neo-Confederatism is rising. But this post is not about that.
Columnist Bud Kennedy reports
in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
that Hurd, age 24, a Marine Reservist and a member of the Texas State Guard, has dropped out of college, resigned from the Guard, and joined a militia. This is interesting, but what is news are his reasons why.
He said he bases his views in part on his faith as a follower of Christian Reconstructionism and dominionism, a libertarian strain of Christianity.
To Reconstructionists, liberty and human rights are Bible-based and the only righteous government is a theocracy under "God's law."
"Nowhere in God's law does it say I must continue to be subject to a tyranny," Hurd said.
"We can remove ourselves from our fiscally irresponsible government."
He fears the federal government "stepping in and mandating a sweeping change of laws to limit our rights," he said.
"Those rights are God-given."... Hurd said converting Texas or America to a religious theocracy is a "long-term goal -- it might take 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 years."
He is not the only secessionist thinking that way.
Kennedy's column is important, not only for following-up on a figure who achieved national notoriety, (however briefly) but because it reveals Hurd as a man who is not the exception. Rather, Hurd epitomizes the growing trend of theocratic dominionism as a dangerous ideological factor in American public life. While a convergence of related ideas forms the theocratic ideology that informs much of the Christian Right, it also has long informed the anti-abortion and the militia movements as well. And while it is true that the theologians of Christian Reconstruction generally take the very long view, as a matter of practice, some people see the need to fight for God's Law in the here and now.
In 2010, I wrote about how this trend was an underlying factor for anti-abortion violence from such assassins as Paul Hill and Scott Roeder:
At his sentencing Roeder said that in murdering Dr. Tiller, he believed he was acting to enforce "God's Law." Roeder, as part of his statement to the court, read from the posthumously published book by Rev. Paul Hill, a Christian Reconstructionist who viewed himself as a "Phineas Priest"--a kind of biblical vigilante assassin--who was executed for the  murder of a Florida abortion provider and his security escort. Hill also believed in the need for militias and for a theocratic Christian revolution.
It has also been an underlying ideological factor in the formation of anti-government militias. I wrote in Intelligence Report, the magazine of the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1998:
Reconstructionism, which arose out of conservative splinters of mainstream Presbyterianism (Orthodox and Reformed), proposes contemporary use of the laws of Old Testament Israel, or "biblical Law," as the basis for "reconstructing" society under an explicitly theocratic government.
High on the list of capital crimes, Reconstructionists say, is abortion, along with homosexuality and the "propagation of false doctrines."
The defining text of Reconstructionism is Institutes of Biblical Law, published in 1973 by Rousas John Rushdoony. In the 800-page explanation of the Ten Commandments and the biblical "case law" deriving from them, Rushdoony declares: "All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical law-order represents an anti-Christian religion. Every law-order is a state of war against the enemies of that order, and all law is a form of warfare."
Initially, Reconstructionism provided a theological argument for evangelical Christian involvement in politics. In subtle ways, it has undergirded the ideology of much of the broader Christian Right, influencing such leaders as televangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Reconstructionism is the dominant ideological strain of the far-right U.S. Taxpayers Party, headed by Rushdoony disciple Howard Phillips.
The late Francis Schaeffer, a Reformed Presbyterian, also was influenced by Reconstructionism. His widely distributed books and films of the 1970s and early 1980s are generally credited with providing an important catalyst for evangelical involvement in anti-abortion politics.
Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, a charismatic evangelical, was originally inspired by Schaeffer, although within a few years he went beyond him. In 1988, Terry was personally tutored by a leading Reconstructionist thinker, Gary North, according to the recent book Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War, by James Risen and Judy L. Thomas.
'A Time To Kill'
Also in 1988, North wrote a book urging anti-abortion organizations to move beyond Schaefferism and forge a theocratic movement that might eventually force "a political and military" confrontation.
Operation Rescue's "physical interposition" at clinics, he believed, was but the first step "in the philosophical war against political pluralism. ... Christian leaders can see where these protests may be headed, even if their followers cannot: to a total confrontation with the civilization of secular humanism."
There is much more that could -- and should -- be written about all this. (Arguably, it already has been, by me and by many others.) But for now, I will stop here and just say that I write this out of acknowledgment that the depth and breadth of our cultural capacity to say it can't happen here; to deny and pooh pooh the obvious, is more profound than I could ever have imagined.
It Takes A Militia | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
It Takes A Militia | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)