A Monumentally Different Kirk Cameron

When Kirk Cameron appeared in the post-rapture Left Behind movies he depicted mainstream evangelicalism. Viewed as a wholesome presence in the entertainment industry and profiled in Christianity Today in 2008, his stock rose even further among mainstream evangelicals with the popular Christian film Fireproof. But that was the old Cameron. 

With a new film Monumental about to be released, there is a new, more extreme Cameron who is increasingly connected to Christian Reconstruction and dominion theology. When evangelicals go to the theaters next week to see the star of the popular Christian films mentioned above, what they’ll get is the “providential history” of RJ Rushdoony and David Barton. In fact, during a recent interview, Cameron, once the Christian pop-culture embodiment of premillennialism, joined Christian Reconstructionist homeschool leader Doug Philips in laying the blame for the decline in America at the feet of premillennialists waiting for the rapture.

Warren Throckmorton notes Cameron’s reliance on Reconstructionists David Barton and Herb Titus as “experts” in Monumental, presented as though they’re neutral scholars, though RD has shown repeatedly that they are anything but.

Cameron recently returned from the Reconstructionist-inspired San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) hosted by Doug Phillips and Vision Forum (I wrote about SAICFF and his previous participation here and here) where he and Phillips discussed the theological background to the version of American history presented in the film, showing the subtle influence of Christian Reconstructionism and R.J. Rushdoony’s Biblical Philosophy of History. Cameron tapped into contemporary tea party memes about slavery, which are rooted in Rushdoony, and whether or not the president is a Christian (which is damaging whether interpreted to imply that he’s a Muslim or interpreted in the Reconstructionist way I described here).

“They (the puritans) had a king that had bankrupted the nation, tripled the debt enslaving the people… in essence, claiming to be God on earth as he sat in the church and rammed religion down the throats of the people, claiming to be a Christian,” he said.

This film arises from by Cameron’s shift from the larger premillennialist evangelical world that he depicted in Left Behind to the postmillennialist dominion theology of the Reconstructionists. Or, in plain English, from the belief that the reign of Christ would be ushered in by the end-times or whether the end-times would precede his reign.

As Cameron and Phillips critique rapture theology, Phillips says of the Puritan experiment in America:

“it didn’t happen with people just waiting to get out of here” (i.e. to be raptured).

Cameron agrees and invokes the idea of multigenerational faithfulness promoted by Vision Forum—though VF only advocates a 200-year plan:

“Their attitude (the Puritans) was not ‘uh-oh the beast and the Antichrist is here… let’s just keep our heads down and wait for the end of the world.’ Instead they said, ‘Let’s make a 500 year plan and go start a nation….’”

Phillips adds enthusiastically that “inherently optimistic” Christianity changes the world to accord with the Bible, to which Cameron replies:

“Amen! I didn’t used to think so but I do now.”

We’ve seen Cameron speak out against homosexuality and embrace the far right agenda by speaking at CPAC, but and it remains to be seen if he’ll embrace the rest of the “biblical worldview” promoted by Vision Forum and Christian Reconstruction: biblical patriarchy, eliminating public education, and any public assistance for the poor, etc. In any case I’ll bet that Monumental will be a contender for the Phillips’ Jubilee Award next year.

 

jingerso@unf.edu'

Julie Ingersoll is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Florida. She is the author of Evangelical Christian Women: War Stories in the Gender Battles and is currently writing a book on the influence of Christian Reconstructionism.