Christocrat Competition

What better way to rescue a floundering Republican primary campaign than to tap the adopter of the term “Christocrat” to lead your effort?

Newt Gingrich has selected former Senator Zell Miller to be the co-chair of his presidential campaign. Miller, a Democrat, infamously spoke to the 2004 Republican National Convention and charged that John Kerry would arm the military with spitballs.

But that’s not Miller’s only claim to fame.

Earlier in 2004, he gave a speech on the floor of the Senate, asserting that America was on the road to moral ruin because of the separation of church and state. In the speech, Miller backed former Judge Roy Moore (of Ten Commandments fame) and the crafters of the Constitution Restoration Act, which would have stripped federal courts of jurisdiction to hear Establishment Clause claims. He said:

I stand shoulder to shoulder, not only with my Senate cosponsors and Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama, but more importantly with our Founding Fathers in the conception of religious liberty and the terribly wrong direction our modern judiciary has taken us.

Everyone today seems to think the U.S. Constitution expressly provides for separation of church and state. I guess you could ask any 10 people if that is not so and I will bet you most of them will say, well, sure that is so. And some would point out that is in the First Amendment. Wrong.

Miller then recommended the writings of David Barton, and proceeded to quote Benjamin Rush, who, when asked whether he was an aristocrat or a democrat, said he was a “Christocrat.” That term was later adopted by Rod Parsley, who, during the height of his political ascendancy, invited Miller to speak at a gathering of pastors at his church in 2005.

I was there. Miller praised Parsley’s book Silent No More, adding that “I particularly appreciated the section on Islam . . .there are few people brave enough” to speak on that issue. (In the book, Parsley called Islam a false religion at war with Christianity, that had to be destroyed.) “Our nation cannot truly understand its divine purpose,” said Miller, until we understand our conflict with Islam. Islamophobia ca. 2005 is not much different than 2011, only missing the shari’ah law scares.

Miller went on a tirade against “activist” judges and secularists. “We need a Paul Revere warning,” he told the audience, “not that the British are coming, but the secularists.” For that, he received a standing ovation, and Parsley called him a “modern-day prophet.” In an interview, Miller told me that he was a “great admirer” of Parsley, and that he became aware of him while campaiging for George W. Bush in Ohio in 2004. Parsley was a “giant” coming along in the evangelical world, Miller added, and “without any question, he can reach the same status, he’s right up there among them,” referring to giants Dobson, Falwell, and Perkins.

Looks like Miller is not so prophetic after all. Gingrich fans, take note.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email