An interview with Rousas John Rushdoony:
Now as Christians we believe that the basic starting point is the regeneration of man. Then man takes and applies that faith. For Christians the basic government is the self-government of the Christian man. Then the basic governmental unit is the family. This means that every father and mother will be more important in the sight of God than heads of state, because He controls children, property and the future. Then the third is the church as the government, fourth the school as a government, fifth your job governs you, then sixth society governs you with its ideas, beliefs and standards, and seventh, one among many forms of government, is the civil government.
Today, we are implicitly totalitarian. We speak of the state as the government. That’s totalitarian. So we have to rid ourselves of such things. The Christian theonomic society will only come about as each man governs himself under God and governs his particular sphere. And only so will we take back government from the state and put it in the hands of Christians.
Question:– But wouldn’t a Christian Republic run according to God’s Law become oppressive to non-Christians?
R.J. Rushdoony: Law is the will of the sovereign for his subjects. Thus Law represents the word of the God of the society. Now whose Law you have, He is your God. So if Washington makes our laws, Washington is our God. As Christians we cannot believe that. For centuries, God’s law has functioned wherever God’s people have been, whether in Israel or in Christendom. This is a new and modern thing that we turn to the state’s law.
More about Rushdoony:
The name of this theologian may be unfamiliar, but most men of God are his heirs.
Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Howard Ahmanson, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy — almost every fundamentalist follows Rousas John Rushdoony, 1916-2001. Newsweek once referred to Rushdoony’s Chalcedon Foundation as the think tank of the religious right.
But what you won’t hear in Sunday school is that Rushdoony is a racist, sexist, Jew-hating bigot who denies the holocaust. Don’t take it from me: The British Centre for Science Education refers to him as “a man every bit as potentially murderous as Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot or anyone else you may want to name amongst the annals of evil.”
Democracy Is of the Devil
To keep the secular indoctrination of sciences, arts, and feminism from poisoning society, Rushdoony advocated the death penalty according to Leviticus laws.
R.J.’s basic philosophy was that the Old Testament gave white man dominion over the earth, the animals, women, and heathen nations. Theocracy is God’s will, and democracy is apostasy — only Christians should be able to vote.
To keep the secular indoctrination of sciences, arts, and feminism from poisoning society, Rushdoony advocated the death penalty according to Leviticus laws. Among the 18 capital crimes were of course, adultery, witchcraft, homosexuality, and blasphemy.
So he’s the rightest of the right who wants to turn back the clock to the Dark Ages. Rushdoony has gotten short shrift in recent profiles of Bachmann, compared to other evangelical leaders (who swim in the same circles as Rushdoony). Sarah Posner (who’s the best person writing about this whole subject) writes:
To understand Bachmann’s view of government (i.e., that it really shouldn’t do much of anything), it’s important to understand its religious source: Rushdoony’s “spheres of institutional authority.” That, and the peculiar Christian Reconstructionist understanding of the Constitution, inform her views on gun ownership, “Obamacare,” and what it means to be a “real” American…Bachmann, in other words, is a product of the religious right’s deliberate efforts to “raise up” soldiers to exercise a “dominion mandate;” she is, organically, one of them. Perry’s effort Saturday, on the other hand, was a staged attempt to convince them that he is committed to their worldview. It’s not clear that he has internalized it like Bachmann has, which may make him more Zelig-like and attractive to non-religious voters in states like New Hampshire, or might make him look like a pandering interloper to everyone. One thing is clear, though: the dominionism that we chroniclers of the religious right have talked about for years is now becoming a mainstream topic of scrutiny and conversation. Finally.
Viewed through the lens of Rushdoony’s philosophy, the little innocuous things Bachmann says on the trail have new meaning: “It’s absolutely essential that we maintain the family.” The family is the church. Her anti-gay crusade is not just because the Bible says homosexuality is bad, but that gay marriage means modernity is winning. More on Bachmann and the Dark Ages, and being anti-Enlightenment:
Bachmann also adores Schaeffer follower Nancy Pearcey, a prominent creationist whose recent book is “Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning.” That’s Leonardo as in “da Vinci,” whose famous drawing of “Vitruvian Man” shows a human being inscribed within a perfect circle and a perfect square. The artist made the ungodly error of putting humanity at the center of time and space….
Pearcey’s book lauds Schaeffer’s empathy for artists who are “caught in the trap of false and harmful worldviews” — specifically, those that have trickled down from wicked Renaissance humanism. “As the medieval period merged into the Renaissance (beginning roughly in the 1300s),” she wrote, “a drumbeat began to sound for the complete emancipation of reason from revelation — a crescendo that burst into full force in the Enlightenment (beginning in the 1700s).”
When people talk of an “anti-intellectual” streak, they probably don’t see this as protestant reform being too liberal. My fear about Bachmann is not that she’s a Left Behinder. That really seems to be less of an emphasis with the Reconstructionists than changing the nature of American law. Or, maybe they see the transformation of America into a Christian state as the precursor to the Second Coming. Or…the inability to actually prove that God exists leads to a neurotic inclination to instill God’s law – something humans can control. Maybe then God will arrive and stop throwing earthquakes and hurricanes our way.
Is Bachmann the same caliber of lunatic as RJ Rushdoony – hard to tell, because these issues of Biblical law don’t come out of her mouth on the campaign trail. She’s a politician, she’s diplomatic, which is more dangerous because she (or Perry) can fool some people, and then have more power than Rushdoony ever dreamed of. Even so, Rushdoony’s worldview is a minority position, to say the least – with most Americans, and even with most evangelicals. He’s a pure radical – so it would be unfair to paint all of evangelical Christianity with this brush.
But should that matter? It’s sort of like the politician who has to defend himself saying, “I am not a pedophile.” Once you’ve reached that point, and this defense even needs to be made, you’ve indicted yourself. If Bachmann has to say “I don’t believe that American law should be replaced with Biblical law” she’s already condemned herself. First, she might be lying. But even if she can be discussed within the same sentence with Rushdoony, we should all be terrified. And sad. This has always been a current in American politics, going back to the Puritans. But this fever pitch of right wing absolutism, economic downgrade, and world dysfunction is a new thing. You can’t even cite the Great Depression as an example, because that happened before the bomb. We are in new territory.
America is a healthy enough country that it could resist an American Taliban takeover. And maybe Bachmann, once in office, wouldn’t go full bore with a radical agenda. But she gives that agenda a voice, she gives it legitimacy. She lets these ideas become more and more a normal part of the conversation – and part of policy. That, or we’re seeing daylight being poured on the radical right, which is a normal part of modern progress. The lunatics have often been in charge – they jailed Copernicus – while over time truth gets out and eclipses the radicals. In the meantime, it’s probably going to be a pretty fucked-up next 50 years.