The Endurance Of Christian Reconstructionism

In Texas tomorrow, there is a run-off election to determine the winner of the Republican primary for a seat on the state’s Supreme Court, and one of the candidate is Rick Green, who works with WallBuilders, David Barton’s historical revisionist outfit that would have the world (and Glenn Beck) believe the founders planned a theocracy rather than a democracy. (Barton, who once served as the co-chair of the Texas Republican Party, advised the state’s Board of Education on the rewriting of its curriculum standards.) Right Wing Watch noted last week that Green’s candidacy is supported by Houston activist Steven Hotze, who believes Green would “vote against a liberal judiciary who will march lock step with Obama on the path to socialism.”

Hotze is not an inconsequential player in Texas politics, but he is one who troubled the late conservative insider Robert Novak with his theocratic ambitions. In 2007, Novak devoted a column to how Hotze, who had hosted a fundraiser for Mike Huckabee, was a Christian Reconstructionist — and worried about how that represented Huckabee’s base.

In 1990, at a political organizing session, Hotze maintained:

Biblically, the legitimate role of civil government is to provide justice based upon the absolute standards of God’s law, to restrain wickedness, to punish evil doers, and to protect the life, liberty and property of law abiding citizens.

Christians have the responsibility to be actively involved in family, church and civil government arenas. There is no neutrality. Civil government will either reflect biblical Christianity or it will reflect anti-Christian positions.

You can make the difference. The upcoming primary elections will provide you with the opportunity not only to exercise your right to vote but also to attend precinct conventions which occur at your polling place after the polls close. The precinct convention is the most critical meeting for you to attend if you want to have an impact in the area of civil government.

Back when Huckabee was running for president, a reporter asked him if he was a Christian Reconstructionist. It was an amusing moment — because anyone who didn’t want to be linked with some Christian Reconstructionists’ endorsements of slavery or the death penalty for homosexuals would of course say no. And Huckabee did. But many have documented his Reconstructionist ties, and how his calls for biblical law in place of the Constitution reflect Reconstructionism’s influence. 

Huckabee is not alone. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who backed away from his controversial thesis during his campaign last year, was shown by Diana Butler Bass to be tied to Christian Reconstructionism, both through the subject matter of his thesis and his advisor Herb Titus.

Now comes Star Parker, a favorite on the religious right speaking circuit for being a walking example of how a welfare queen who had had multiple abortions can be transformed into a conservative Christian icon. Parker — an early endorser of Huckabee in 2008 — is now running for Congress in the 37th district of California, and hopes to “have the opportunity to share my ideas inside the Congressional Black Caucus” about how the country is sliding towards socialism.

Parker — who is an admirer of Christian Reconstructionism founder R.J. Rushdoony — recently gave an interview to the John Birch Society, which during the Kennedy administration insisted that proposed civil rights laws were “in flagrant violation of the 10th amendment,” and threatened individual freedom. (Sound familiar? The same arguments are being made about health care reform.)

In the JBS interview, Parker said that Obama “is a secular leftist” who doesn’t have a “biblical worldview” and is “pushing the envelope as far as angering God.” Whether he is a “Pharaoh or a Nebuchadnezzar we don’t know, but we do know that ultimately he will not succeed. The Scriptures are very clear, that God abhors the bloodthirsty and the deceitful.” (According to some eschatology, Nebuchadnezzar is the Antichrist.) Parker not only endorsed the notion that abortion is genocidal in black communities, but added that Obama supports abortion through the ninth month (which is false).

A few years ago, in the magazine published by the Christian Reconstructionist Chalcedon Foundation, the John Birch Society was depicted as “stalwarts of freedom” who have “long stood beside Chalcedon and the mission of Christian Reconstructionism.”

Although the John Birch Society was purged from the conservative movement by William F. Buckley, it was a co-sponsor of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, and I’ve talked to several observers who see it making a resurgence. If so, does this signal more respectability for Reconstructionists, too?

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