FAX: FOR OPINION PAGE EDITOR
To: The Editor
From: Rev. James W. Watkins
Re: Following Editorial For Consideration As An Op-Ed

CHRISTIAN RECONSTRUCTIONISM: BEYOND ARROGANCE
Rev. James W. Watkins

Simply put, Christian Reconstructionists (CR's) are Christians who believe that the only way to solve modern America's problems is to bring back 16th century Puritan Massachusetts. The CR's are politically active ultra-conservative scriptural literalists. They use the phrase "inerrant Law-Word of God" to describe their biblical view. They do not believe in traditional American notions of Separation of Church and State or in public education. They do not believe that "governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed" as Thomas Jefferson wrote in our Declaration of Independence. They promote an Old Testament, Puritan, theocratic view of government where the interpreters of God's will (the clergy) rule the state.

They believe that "they" are literally intended by God to take political control over all aspects of society and rule here in America until the post-millennial return of Christ. They believe that all civil law must be based on a literal fundamentalist reading of Scripture, including the very harshest reading of the Old Testament legal code. Willing to work intensely at local political activity, they exercise influence far out of proportion to their numbers.

Rousas J. Rushdoony, the founder and chief theorist of the "Reconstructionist" movement, calls democracy a heresy; it's not found in the Bible. He writes "Christianity is completely and radically anti-democratic; it is committed to a spiritual aristocracy." His type of Hyper-Reformed-Calvinism emphasizes the inherited sinfulness of all humans and the divine election to salvation of only a few, who are the only people qualified to govern human society. He teaches that the Bible requires the death penalty for 14 different offenses, including blasphemers, adulterers, homosexuals, idolaters, and "incorrigible" children. He also insists that the Bible condones some forms of slavery. Rushdoony compares the spread of Christian Reconstructionism in America to the rise of the militant Shiite Moslems in Islamic nations. Both are a reaction to the modern world that unite religion and politics into one seamless authoritarian philosophy.

When seeking public office, CR's often employ the "stealth" candidacy hiding their extreme political views behind the sanctity of religious faith. Following their theory, if David Koresh were running for office, it would be improper for voters to question his religious perspective. In an age where religio-political extremes abound, voters have every right to ask their questions and get straight answers on such matters before casting a vote.

Politically, the CR's operate within the framework of Howard Phillips' US Taxpayers Party, or on the ultra-extreme right fringe of the Republican Party. How extreme? Well, they consider the Christian Coalition "soft" on liberalism, often calling them "populist bumpkins."

CR's attitude toward other faith groups is beyond arrogance. For them diversity is a dirty word! They believe that anyone espousing theological error has no claim to religious freedom and may properly have their rights denied by law. Religious toleration in America and open religious dialogue are abhorrent to CR's because they say "it affords people an opportunity to be exposed to theological error."

Rushdoony puts it this way, "In the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions as if no differences existed." He calls democracy the "great love of the failures and cowards of life." Gary North, the most hard-line Reconstructionist (who is also Rushdoony's estranged son-in-law) writes, "the modern world has been threatened by the rise of mass democracy, the politics of one man one vote."

Education is of great concern to CR's. Rev. Joseph Morecraft of Atlanta told Bill Moyers of PBS, "I believe the children in the Christian schools of America are the army that's going to take the future." Avoiding public education, which they invariably refer to as "government schools," CR's make no apology for their opposition to public education. In his book The Student Trap Rev. Robert L. Thoburn, a Virginia CR, claims that the only way to remove humanism from public schools is to abolish public schools. Thoburn, who runs a Christian school in the Washington D.C. suburbs, gives a step- by-step plan Reconstructionists can use to undermine their local public schools. He recommends they run for the school board and lists various tactics for wreaking havoc once seated.

The real danger of Reconstructionism's influence extends far beyond its limited numbers. When Fundamental/Charismatic Christians began pouring into politics almost two decades ago, their leaders had no developed theological framework to justify their political involvement. Their traditional thinking had seen politics as far too sordid an atmosphere for the involvement of "true" Christians. Rushdoony's books provided a detailed rationale that sounded biblical for their political activity. Most Religious Right activists could not buy Rushdoony's entire system, but they have absorbed large segments of his thinking, along with his theocratic vision for America.

One of the difficulties in alerting the general public to the threat posed by local CR "stealth candidates" is that upon first hearing about the CR point of view, the average American says, "this is ridiculous, they can't believe that. This must be some kind of political smear." Yes, their point of view is ridiculous. But, it is no smear. In a number of local races around the country, we have already seen local "stealth" campaigns financed by outside money and orchestrated by outside campaign directors. As few as ten working in a voting district have put one of their own in a local office. If you are having trouble believing all of this, most local libraries carry the PBS video, "God and Politics, On Earth as it is in Heaven," by Bill Moyers. You could investigate the CR web site at: www.chalcedon.edu, or: www.ustaxpayers.org. The CR's are growing. Americans in many communities need to better understand the danger to democracy lurking in Christian Reconstructionism.

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Rev. James W. Watkins has been pastor of Old South Church, United Church of Christ, Kirtland, OH, since November of 1993. Over a 28-year ministerial career, Rev. Watkins has been pastor of six churches. In addition to his pastoral work, Rev. Watkins is an author, educator, and community activist. His work may be viewed at http://www.mainstreamop.org/. He can be reached at 440/974-5123(h), 440/256-1589(fax) or e-mail: watkins@mainstreamop.org.

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