America The Theocracy

Creative Loafing Atlanta

This article is an excellent introduction to the Christian Reconstruction Movement. If you've already heard of these fanatics, it's good to see just how many places their reach extends.

Many right-wing Christians are premillenialists, believing that Jesus Christ will soon return to this earth and reign from Jerusalem for a thousand years. However, the Reconstructionists by and large are post-millenialists. They believe that Jesus will not return to rule the earth until Christians assume control of all governments. What better place to begin world domination than America, the most powerful nation on Earth?

At the heart of dominion beliefs -- whether Boys' gut-punching invective or Rushdoony's and North's complex theological contemplations -- are two biblical passages. Genesis 1:28 commands men to have "dominion" over "every living thing." Adam and Eve broke their covenant with God, and Satan seized dominion. The church -- the church sanctioned by the Reconstructionists, that is -- claims it has a reconstituted covenant with God, and the right to a new dominion in his name.

Then, in Matthew 28:19-20, the "Great Commission," Jesus commands his followers to proselytize to the world.

Put another way, for the dominion theologians, the motto is: We rule!

Starting from those verses, dominion theology preaches that government would be largely replaced by the church. Or, more precisely, three "governments" would emerge, according to Cobb County's [Gary] DeMar: the family, the state and the church. All three would be subject to strict religious oversight.

DeMar, [Gary] North and other Reconstructionists believe the state should be limited to building and maintaining roads, enforcing land-use contracts, ensuring just weights and measures -- and not much else.

Except, as DeMar writes in his book Liberty at Risk, "The State is God's 'minister,' taking vengeance out on those who do evil," a role eagerly embraced by the Bush administration. A major task for the Christian state would be to field armies to conquer in the name of Jesus.
You'd think these flakes have no real influence in America. You'd be wrong. The true links of their power fits together like Lincoln Logs.
Christian Reconstruction "has been the driving force behind the Christian right for some time," says Daniel Levitas, an Atlanta author who follows extremist groups, many of whom, such as the racist "Christian Identity" sects, have found succor in the words of Rushdoony and his disciples.

The movement holds sway over a broad spectrum of conservative religion, and its power extends throughout local and federal governments. George Bush, for example, has called Reconstructionist Marvin Olasky "compassionate conservatism's leading thinker." Olasky, according to the New York Times, was one of Bush's "original advisers" on the creation of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives -- but became a critic after the agency's first director sought to rein in taxpayer-paid-for proselytizing.

Reconstruction's spread is a classic case of "tentacle influence," says Bill Berkowitz, a California journalist who has reported on Reconstructionists' stealth attack on that state's politics. One of the beneficiaries of the movement was California Sen. Tom McClintock, much of whose funding and campaign strategy came from Reconstruction heavyweights. McClintock was a moving force behind the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. The senator finished third in the election to replace Davis.

...The owners of Lincoln Log donate office space to one of dominion theology's elite battalions, Operation Save America -- previously known as Operation Rescue, which for decades has besieged abortion clinics around the nation. Its founder, Randall Terry, is departed -- he fell into sin due to a "woman problem," said his successor, Philip "Flip" Benham.

Many Americans have deep-rooted, sincere religious opposition to abortion, and many have been attracted to the civil disobedience of Operation Save America. Few of its grunt privates, however, understand the theology that moved Terry and is now articulated by Benham.

"There was always separation of church and state in the Bible," says Benham, thumbing a well-worn Bible ("I go through two or three a year"). "They had different missions. But God appointed the church to be the conscience of the state, to run the state."

Benham's office is full of pictures of abortion protests. One photo shows him baptizing Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" in Roe v. Wade who later became an ardent foe of abortion.

Outside Benham's office, along Lincoln Log's hallways, are more pictures. Featured prominently is former Alabama Gov. George Wallace. Checking records, it turns out that Lincoln Log's CEO, Richard Schoff, was a true-blue supporter of Wallace, which isn't surprising. Schoff also was once the leader of a faction of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana. "I wouldn't be today," Schoff told me.

Schoff had other memberships, particularly with a group called the Council for National Policy. It was founded in 1981 as a project of John Birch Society leaders, including Marietta Congressman McDonald.

Other members included Rushdoony, Gary North, Tim LaHaye (now writing science-fiction/eschatology novels), Pat Robertson, Oliver North, radical right activist Paul Weyrich (who said when the group was founded that it is "working to overturn the present power structure of this country") and Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly.
If I don't quit, I'm going to quote the entire article. There's lots more info at the link, though; go take a look.