Guest blogged by Frank Schaeffer
Nothing illustrates the danger we face from our own Taliban better than the way American "Christians" are now tangled up with the homophobic --- now potentially gay murdering --- Ugandan Christian/political leadership.
The Ugandan Parliament is considering a bill that would impose the death penalty on gays. One American must be cheering from the grave. Here’s what the late R.J. Rushdoony, Reconstructionist theologian and founder of the modern movement of that name, wrote in a letter to gay rights activist Mel White: “God in His law requires the death penalty for homosexuals.”
Disclosure: Both Mel White and Rushdoony were friends of mine, back in the day I was a Religious Right leader and sidekick to my father – the late Francis Schaeffer – who is “credited” by many, including by Karen Armstrong and Max Blumenthal – with being a key father of the Religious Right...along with R.J. Rushdoony. I quit the movement over its hate for the “other” and got out by the late 80s and started writing novels like Portofino, aimed at the heart of the movement through humor at fundamentalist’s expense.
Back in the day before Mel came out he was working with me on one of my father’s movie/book projects. We both left our far right “faith.” Mel acknowledged that he was gay and I said I’d had it with hate. These days I propose an anti-right progressive Christianity in my book Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism)
That said... The problem of American exceptionalism combined with a theocracy in which the “we” of evangelical faith finally destroy the “they” (everyone else) is growing. Who do you think Fox News' rabid followers are? Who do you think calls Obama "Hitler" while using the tactics of fascism themselves?...
Rick Warren et al
Today Rick Warren under the guise of his benign smile, the C-Street religious gang and commune in Washington DC and Mike Huckabee, amongst many other American political and religious leaders, are carrying on my father's ideology of “taking back America” for Jesus, and forwarding the theocratic delusions and radical hate campaign of the late R.J. Rushdoony.
Others with ties to violent groups are also striving to turn America into our version of a “Christian” Iran. Reconstructionism, otherwise known as Dominionist Christianity, and the Republican Party are one and the same thing these days.
Consider Erik Prince – founder of the nefarious Blackwater private “security” firm.
Prince is the son of Edgar Prince. His vast wealth funded Dominionist organizations including the Moral Majority and Focus on the Family. I was connected to both groups, speaking often for Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson gave away 150,000 copies of one of my right wing “books” (A Time For Anger) in which I called for revolution against the “Left” and the “liberals.”
Erik Prince grew up with powerful leaders in the Christian Right. Prince quit a White House internship with George H.W. Bush. He said Bush was too secular. As a converted Catholic, Prince joined the Knights of Columbus. Today Prince sees himself as a Christian crusader, an armed one with a private army. Blackwater’s criminal torture of U.S. war prisoners has been documented so has employee intimidation and threats of violence. Prince sees his call to rid the world of Islam and make way for Christian hegemony.
Rushdoony who Prince, Huckabee and others follow, said the Bible must replace civil laws and constitutions with the Old and New Testaments, including the revival of the death penalty for homosexuality, incest, adultery, losing virginity before marriage and apostasy. Rushdoony once told me: “Democracy is a heresy.”
These are core beliefs among several leading figures including Huckabee, Sarah Palin and the inner core of George W. Bush’s far right "crusader" religious circle.
Others carried on where Rushdoony left off.
George Grant is one of the far right/theocratic mentors. He appeared with Rushdoony in the video, “God’s Law and Society.” Grant was the co-author for Huckabee’s 1998 book, Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence. That was the book where Huckabee and Grant said homosexuality and pedophilia, sadomasochism and necrophilia were all “institutionally supported aberrations.”
George Grant wrote The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action. He called on a “holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ – to have dominion in the civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.”
"...It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel."
It's instructive that Huckabee gave his friendship to Bill Gothard, who runs an outfit called the Institute In Basic Life Principles. Gothard teaches that “character choices” result in societal “ills” : "homosexuality, divorce, contraception, crime."
Gothard runs “training institutes” that teach that families must be ruled by his Reconstructionist beliefs. Hundreds of thousands of American (mostly home schooled) children have been raised according to his ideas. He forbids dancing, dating, rock music and “wrong clothes.” Wives must submit to their husbands. Adults must submit to their fathers, and there must be no birth control.
Meanwhile over on C-Street...
"The Family" at C Street is allegedly backing the proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and David Bahati, the Ugandan lawmaker, are both active members of "The Family" which has poured millions of dollars into their “international outreach.”
Congressmen Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joe Pitts (R-PA), Senator John Ensign (R-NV), Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC), and former Representative Chip Pickering (R-MS), and, Senators Brownback (R-KS) and Inhofe (R-OK) are "Family" members amongst many others.
As Jeff Sharlet, author of the exposé The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power says the Ugandan bill's biggest supporter is a member of "The Family". David Bahati, the lawmaker pushing for homosexuality crimes, "appears to be a core member of 'The Family'," Sharlet said recently. "He works, he organizes their Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which 'The Family' has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda."
What unites all the Reconstructionists from Erik Prince to Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee?
The ideological link between the members of "The Family" on C-Street to the Ugandan fascists wanting to kill gays can be best summed up by looking at several quotes from R.J. Rushdoony:
“The Bible is without reservation in its condemnation of homosexuality . . . If a man also lie with mankind . . . they shall be put to death. (Lev. 20:13) . . . This is certainly clear enough and there is not a single text in all of the New Testament to indicate that this penalty has been altered or removed. . . (pp 422-25). . . We find that St. Paul far from setting aside the law and its penalties appeals to the death penalty against homosexuals as an established and continuing fact.” (Rom 1:32) (p735) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law]
“Democracy is the great love of the failures and cowards of life.” [R.J. Rushdoony, Thy Kingdom Come 1978]
“One faith, one law and one standard of justice did not mean democracy. The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state . . . Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.” (p 100) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law]
“The 'civil rights' revolutionary groups are a case in point. Their goal is not equality but power. The background of Negro culture is African and magic, and the purposes of magic are control and power. . . Voodoo or magic was the religion and life of American Negroes. Voodoo songs underlie jazz, and old voodoo, with its power goal, has been merely replaced with revolutionary voodoo, a modernized power drive." (p. 61) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law]
“Biblical law permits voluntary slavery because it recognizes that some people are not able to maintain a position of independence . . . The law is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so.” (pp. 286, 251) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law]
“All who are content with a humanistic law system and do not strive to replace it with Biblical law are guilty of idolatry. They have forsaken the covenant of their God, and they are asking us to serve other gods. They are thus idolaters, and are, in our generation, when our world is idolatrous and our states also, to be objects of missionary activity. They must be called out of their idolatry into the service of the living God. ….” [R.J. Rushdoony, Law and Society: Volume II of the Institutes of Biblical Law pp. 468, 316]
“The goal is the developed Kingdom of God, the New Jerusalem, a world order under God's law.” [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law p. 357]
Killing homosexuals? Why doesn't Rick Warren condemn the anti-gay legislation in Uganda?
In a January 2009 piece for The Daily Beast, Max Blumenthal wrote that "a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa", the head of the Makerere Community Church --- "a rapidly growing congregation" --- was "Warren's man in Uganda." Blumenthal pointed out that Ssempa "enjoys close ties to his country's First Lady, Janet Museveni, and [was] a favorite of the Bush White House."
During a Meet the Press appearance on November 29, Warren said: "I'm not pro-life, I'm whole life, which means I don't just want to protect that little baby girl before she's born; I want to make sure she gets an education, she's not raised in poverty, she gets her vaccinations," he said. "And so this is what I call the whole life platform, which, beyond just pro-life of protecting that unborn child, goes on."
When asked about whether he would oppose gay marriage if the issue returned to the ballot in 2010, Warren said: "As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides."
Why Rick Warren’s silence? Because under the mask of love he buys into Reconstructionism.
"The Christian goal for the world"?
"The Christian goal for the world," theologian David Chilton has explained, is "the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics." To which Erik Prince, George W. Bush, Rick Warren and C-Street all say a hearty Amen!
Prominent California philanthropist Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., (someone who once handed me a check for 150,000 dollars for one of my far right projects), who has given Rushdoony's operations more than $700,000 over the years is tired of this mess. According to the June 30, 1996, Orange County Register, Ahmanson departed the Rushdoony-founded “Chalcedon” board and says he "does not embrace all of Rushdoony's teachings."
But Howard is the exception. So am I.
More "respectable" leaders like Warren, Huckabee and Palin won’t admit it but they would like to do here what the Ugandans are doing there, and not just to gays, to all the "other" who are in the way of their taking America into the darkness of theocracy.
Pastor Rick is the epitome of the two-faced friendly evangelical leader today: say one thing for the public, believe another thing and work for it.
Reconstructionists persist and the movement is growing while key figures in Congress, to big time pastors, routinely deny they are part of this political/religious movement. Meanwhile they’re fixin’ to go to a hangin’ in Uganda, with the blessing of the smiling nice guys like Rick Warren and and a wink and a nod from the Reconstructionist handmaid Sarah-Tea-Bagger-Palin.
Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism).