After the all-too-vivid tragedy of September 11, and the further threats
from anthrax, Americans now recognize that our country is under attack.
Most citizens want to stand together, supporting each other regardless
of differing religious or philosophical beliefs. Displaying the unity of
pluralism expressed in our country’s original motto, E Pluribus Unum
(out of the many, one), some non-Muslim citizens of Colorado Springs went
to the defense of our Muslim community against the threat of religious
Now we need to be vigilant for another threat against our nation, coming
not from overseas terrorists, but from those within who would change the
basic structure of our country, modifying it to reflect one narrow religious
view. For years they have opposed the constitutional principle of separating
church and state, and now with a religious president and opportunistic
friends in Congress, they seek to advance that agenda.
The October issue of CHURCH & STATE, a publication of Americans
United for Separation of Church & State, describes this threat.
It shows that many Republican members of Congress are now showing favor
to Christian Reconstructionists, the most extreme wing of the Religious
Right — a group whose views would be unbelievable to most Americans.
They would impose their interpretation of “biblical law” on our
country, replacing democracy with a theocratic state based on a literal
reading of the Old Testament’s legal code. Reconstructionism would eliminate
many of democracy’s manifestations, such as labor unions, civil rights
laws, and public schools. Political leaders would look to the bible, not
the Constitution, as the nation’s governing document.
In the 1960’s, the writings of Rousas John Rushdoony made popular some
of the more extreme opinions of Reconstructionism, such as advocating the
death penalty for a number of offenses, among them striking or cursing
a parent, adultery, homosexuality, “unchastity,” witchcraft (shades of
the Middle Ages!), blasphemy and propagation of “false” religious doctrines.
Some of his followers even favor stoning as the biblically preferred means
of execution. All would make our country a “Christian Nation,”
with no allowance for other views or religions.
The Promise Keepers group follows Reconstructionist teachings
in their view of the family with wife and children “in submission” to the
husband. President George W. Bush’s welfare guru, Marvin Olasky, was clearly
influenced by this philosophy in his belief that churches, not the government,
should provide for the poor.
The biggest current threat seems to be from the National Reform Association,
whose president, Jeffrey Ziegler, is determined to become a political player
in promoting Reconstructionism. He has met three times with
members of Congress, once with staffers of my own Senator Ben Nighthorse
Campbell. In July 2000 he met with Rep.Tom DeLay to plan an upcoming
“biblical worldview” conference for congressional staff on Capitol
Ziegler feels that the Republican party is the best vehicle to accomplish
his goal of establishing an officially “Christian” government, and
has begun running Reconstructionist candidates. Observers note that
these candidates have learned to downplay the controversial aspects of
their philosophy and focus instead on more palatable pocketbook positions
that appeal to voters. Thus many voters never realize their true intentions.
Reconstructionism represents a threat to each American’s guarantee of
individual religious liberty. Losing that would be a disaster unequaled
by any other.
Read more about this in the October issue of CHURCH & STATE,
available on Americans United’s website, www.au.org.
For background on Christian Reconstructionism, see the article by Frederick
Carlson on www.publiceye.org.