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By: Maureen O'Brien To: Maureen O'Brien Re: Xian Reconstructionism Grace Under Pressure The World According To Rev. R.J. Rushdoony By Marghe Covino ________________________ He hardly seems like the Ayatollah of Holy Rollers. Sitting in the depression of a well-worn living room sofa, wearing a blue and green plaid Pendleton shirt neatly tucked into navy polyester trousers, the Rev. Rousas John Rushdoony, 78, the father of contemporary Christian Reconstructionism, exudes the spirituality and the intelligence granted to those who've spent a lifetime consuming and writing religious books. This is the man who, in his writings, has seen fit to constantly remind the world that the Old Testament proscribed the death penalty for at least 17 separate offenses, including adultery, cursing your parents, and homosexuality? The man who researchers of the religious right say is the seminal influence on the theopolitical movement sweeping America today? Well, yes. As R.J. Rushdoony lucidly expounds to the News & Review on his life and philosophy on a beautiful fall day at his nearby foothills home neighboring Angel's Camp, it's hard to perceive him as an extremist. Yet telltale signs manifest themselves as he speaks. His personal history and his philosophies appear to present endless extremes with which he appears to be entirely comfortable. It is also difficult to adjust to the growing realization that while Rushdoony philosophizes and intellectualizes the ideal church/state, he has virtually no idea of the grim reality created by his vision--by the people who have adopted that vision. So who is this philosopher whose teachings have been adopted either in whole or in part by evangelicals across America and could have an incredible impact on the future of not only the United States but the world? To understand the man, you must understand the thought. Simply put, Reconstructionist theology requires its adherents to work toward the goal of restructuring or reconstructing all spheres of life, including government, to conform to biblical law; specifically, the literal doctrines of the Old Testament. Law, business, media, art, etc., must all bow to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. Rushdoony creates for his followers and, more importantly for most "born again" Christians who believe in the literal word of the Bible, the image of a small band of racially, morally and culturally embattled true believers. As he writes: "Living as we do in a humanistic age, where the TRUE CHURCH is a SMALL MINORITY, our religious institutions, schools, families and callings must see themselves as outposts of Christ's Kingdom, local gatherings of citizens of the new creation." In building for worship, THE TRUE CHURCH in a local community gathers to hear the word of God whereby they are to go forth and exercise dominion. Not coincidentally, this dominion coincides precisely with the tenets of neoconservatism: anti-homosexual, anti-environmental, anti-women, anti-public education, anti-anything-deemed-secular humanist. For years political and religious conservatives have laid the groundwork for such a political takeover. Many of their organizations, like the John Birch Society, fell into disrepute. But the tenets and the frameworks, and more importantly, the people, lived on. Joseph Coors' Heritage and Free Congress Foundations, the Eagle Forum, the Moral Majority, the World Anti-Communist League, led by the Phyllis Schlaflys and countless others, have existed for years. But now, with the tight economy and looming cultural change, with the approaching millennium and with Rushdoony giving the biblical mandate, the concept of creating a theocracy in America has caught fire. Groups like Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition have shown social outsiders how to become political insiders. The notion that theocracy is achievable is encouraged by the belief of post-millennialist Reconstructionists that Christians must rule the earth for 1,000 years before Christ will come again. Blinded By The Light R.J. Rushdoony was born on April 25, 1916, in New York City, the child of Armenian immigrants who were part of a political and religious aristocracy whose members can be traced to A.D. 320. Since the time of Gregory the Illuminator, who converted the Armenian nobility, the family has been represented by priests "either father and son or uncle and nephew" in an unbroken line. During the Reformation, when Cyril Lukaris was the Patriarch of the Eastern Church, the Reformed faith of Calvinism swept through Armenia and whisked up a number of the family theologians with it. Rushdoony's father was a minister and a highly regarded intellectual, a professor. The young Rushdoony, who grew up in Detroit before the family moved West, was an office boy for General Motors, saving his pennies for the special kid's day dime admission to Tiger Stadium so he could see his heroes, like Babe Ruth and Harry Heilman. He becomes animated when he talks about baseball and is disappointed that it has become "big business" and that there is no longer any clowning or cutting up on the field. He supports the "no salary cap" stance of the striking players, and insists that Jackie Robinson did more for African-Americans than Martin Luther King Jr. ever dreamed of. Yet Rushdoony has written that business owners should be able to make their own rules--even discriminate if they choose. Today, his ranch-style house nestled on a hilltop in the Sierra foothills is an oasis, a sanctuary. Piles of his beloved books are on chairs, couches, tables. True to the dichotomy of the man, among the weighty theological, political and sociological tomes there is a well-thumbed book titled A Guide To Practical Jokes. It is a comfortable and homey place, filled with ancient treasures, antiques and mementos. The house overlooks the home of the Rushdoony's son, Mark, who lives just a few yards downhill, and the K-8 Chalcedon Christian School which is on a part of the property. It's a quiet, self-sufficient site with a well, a garden, peacocks, guinea hens and a cat. A few head of cattle roam the land. The peace and isolation are perfect for a life of the mind. The generous donations of Howard Ahmanson Jr. and others to Rushdoony's Chalcedon Institute allow the time for reading, study and writing in this idyllic setting. Rushdoony is a prolific author and has written more than 30 books (in longhand, with a pen he regularly dips into an inkpot). (Continued) --- FMail/386 1.0g * Origin: Home of the RightWatch Echo * (1:267/153) SEEN-BY: 102/2 138 850 851 890 943 112/1 147/7 270/101 280/1 9 10 25 157 202 SEEN-BY: 280/333 517 1776 290/627 396/1 3615/50 @PATH: 267/153 200 3615/50 396/1 280/1 102/2 851 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- (17) Sat 25 Feb 95 1:03 By: Maureen O'Brien To: Maureen O'Brien Re: Xian Reconstructionism ---------------------------------------------------------------------- @EID:af97 1e590860 @REPLY: 1:267/153.0 f4ec7f91 @MSGID: 1:267/153.0 f4ec7f92 Continued from Previous Posting: His best known work is probably the epic Institutes of Biblical Law published in the 1970s, a two-volume set that lays the theological foundation of Reconstructionist thought. The work is based upon the theopolitical state created by the French Protestant reformer, John Calvin, in Geneva in the 1500s. His wife, Dorothy, jokes that Rousas (pronounced Roo-sahss) won't show us the outbuildings where more books are kept, not because he's reorganizing but because he's ashamed of the clutter. Now legally blind, Dorothy, who for years edited and typed his manuscripts and helped with the work of Chalcedon, is finding it difficult to adjust to the sudden loss of her vision. However, it becomes apparent at the outset of the interview that Rushdoony suffers from another sort of sightlessness, one he has long grown accustomed to. His ideal "the undisputed fact of God's will" burns brightly, and is evoked regularly whenever any possible negative influence of his theology becomes the topic of discussion. Reconstruction Zone That his theology has been influential is beyond dispute. He has been disseminating the Reconstructionist doctrine since the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he was friends with Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society, an organization whose structure Rushdoony found admirable. However, he laughs as he says he was never a member of the society because, although he and Welch were good friends, "Welch always saw things in terms of conspiracy and I always see things in terms of sin." "It's a free country for any group to involve itself [in politics]," he says of the religious right's current flirtation with power politics. "My interest in politics is not that great. I don't see it as that important. I'm not that great a fan of Pat Robertson--if he does well, that's fine. But I just wish we brought more humor to politics." Oddly enough, Rushdoony was one of the first members of Robertson's Council on National Policy, yet claims he's given the organization up (he is still listed as a member) because it wasn't serious enough. "I was one of the beginning members of the council but I haven't been to a meeting for at least eight years," he elaborates. "In the beginning, we conservatives came together from the political sphere and the world of faith to try to accomplish something in the world. It went down the tubes. It seems to me the socializing purposes were more important than the political. I quit going." In fact, there are few religious right groups that meet with Rushdoony's approval. He calls the Coalition On Revival, a profoundly Reconstructionist group headed by Rev. Ray Grimstead (the Capital Christian Center's Rev. Glen Cole was an original signer of the group's Christian Manifesto) "out of fashion. They're an ineffectual group that doesn't change things. The fruits [of the work] are not there." Rushdoony describes himself as a "Christian Libertarian" and indeed, espouses many Libertarian ideals. For instance, he claims that he has opposed the anti-abortion rights group Operation Rescue. "Some of the most venomous communications I've received have come from Operation Rescue," he says. "I wrote again and again against Operation Rescue. They are morally wrong--totally wrong. The polls show that over 60 percent of the people in this country support abortion. You can't stop it, it's moral and intellectual insanity to try. They hate me and they've never been supporters." Yet Randall Terry, former leader of Operation Rescue, has made statements that sound distinctly Reconstructionist in origin. "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you," Terry has said to supporters. "I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good. Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country." The remarks were similar to a recent article in Rushdoony's monthly Chalcedon Report which called for "hatred of God's enemies"--abortionists, pornographers and homosexuals--and urged that they be made the targets of "imprecatory prayer," which would involve asking God to kill or hurt them in some way. Rushdoony points out that he had not written that article--and that he took no responsibility for it. "I don't tell people what to do or what to write--they need to make those decisions for themselves," he says. As for Terry and others who clone Reconstructionism in their own image: "They're imitators. They're a headache to the movement and do everything to embarrass it--especially when it looks like something is about to succeed--but they do get on the bandwagon. For a time these groups are OK. But they depend on enthusiasm and it doesn't last. It needs to be a day-by-day intellectual application of the faith." Leap Of Faith "I believe in doing something positive," Rushdoony says. "Everyone is a super-critic of everybody else. I'm not interested in critics. That's all they do--they're just critics. They like just sitting back and criticizing. Some people live to be judges, they want to tell you how to run your life and your operation." He is at his best when discussing matters of faith, and despite the Old Testament-edge to much of his writing, it is the kinder, gentler philosophy of deeds from the New Testament that comes across in person. He's proud of the achievements of the Chalcedon Institute, in particular the coverage on ABC's 20/20 that highlighted the work of Chalcedon's John Upton in rescuing Romanian orphans. The report also cited a congressional commendation which was sponsored for Chalcedon by Congressmember Richard Pombo. "We [Chalcedon] have a farm in Central America where we are teaching the local Indians who have been displaced from their ancestral lands how to do market farming," he beams. "In South America we have a shelter for homeless girls. In Africa we have another project and a school and infirmary and trade school and businesses in Mexico." Rushdoony also cites an impressive list of accomplishments by Chalcedon board member and financial benefactor Howard Ahmanson Jr., including the apparent emancipation of a village in Pakistan. But when asked about Ahmanson's heavy investments in political campaigns for right-minded candidates, he said, "That's not my business. Howard does much more charitable work than anyone will ever know." Asked about another Chalcedon board member, actor John Quade, who recently spoke at a white supremacist meeting of a Christian Identity group in Bakersfield, Rushdoony once again denied responsibility for his followers. "John goes everywhere to speak, so I have nothing to say about what he does, I don't tell him what to do and not do." Few chinks appeared in Rushdoony's armor, and to be honest, it wasn't completely clear if he was being sincere or putting on an act. If it is an act, it's a good one. Only once did he let his guard down, exhibiting a little hubris at the fact that newspapers overseas had called him a "silent menace" in their cover stories. And only once did he exhibit the Old Testament brutality of his writings, when the conversation turned to the rights of gays and lesbians. "Homosexuals are losers," he said. "They put their worst foot forward and are alienating people with their aggressive and bullying tactics. They are losers and [are] suicidal. Not important. It's an academic question. I have no personal interest in the subject--it's boring and not relevant to the realities of our world." Yet he reversed himself later, allowing that the New Testament does call for tolerance toward pagans. If his adherents don't get that, well, the will of God will ensure that only the right people get hurt. It's an interesting system, the world of R.J. Rushdoony, a Panglossian closed loop where everything's for the best. Asked about his influence on it, he once again made a leap of faith. "I have no interest in the question," he said. "I do what I feel called to do and leave the results to God." --- FMail/386 1.0g * Origin: Home of the RightWatch Echo * (1:267/153) SEEN-BY: 102/2 138 850 851 890 943 112/1 147/7 270/101 280/1 9 10 25 157 202 SEEN-BY: 280/333 517 1776 290/627 396/1 3615/50 @PATH: 267/153 200 3615/50 396/1 280/1 102/2 851 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- (18) Sun 26 Feb 95 1:35 By: Maureen O'brien To: All Re: Chalcedon/Rushdoony ---------------------------------------------------------------------- @EID:9497 1e5a0c60 @MSGID: 1:267/153 9661bad8 @PID: SX4.02B03 RB10064 Copyright (c) 1995 the Institute for First Amendment Studies, PO Box 589, Great Barrington MA 02130. Uploaded with permission. FREEDOM WRITER A Hard Look at the Hard Right / January 1995 :::::::::::::::::: PROFILE: CHALCEDON :::::::::::::::::: Founded in 1964 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization, Chalcedon (cal-SEE-don) is a leading think tank in the Christian Right. Chalcedon is the origin and principal center of the Christian Reconstruction movement, and their materials have had a vast, immeasurable effect on the politics of the Christian Right. Named after the Council of Chalcedon of 451 A.D., in which the Lordship of Christ was proclaimed, the organization's purpose is to establish Old Testament Biblical law as the standard for society. Chalcedon promotes Christian Reconstructionism--which mandates Christ's dominion over all the world. According to the Ministry of Chalcedon statement, "Chalcedon's emphasis on the cultural or dominion mandates and the necessity of a return to Biblical law has been a crucial factor in the challenge to humanism by Christians in this country and elsewhere." Chalcedon's president, Rousas John (R. J.) Rushdoony, is best known as "the father of Christian Reconstructionism." As well as being the author of more than 100 books, he is a former Orthodox Presbyterian minister, John Birch Society operative, and missionary to Native Americans. Rushdoony, 78, id s longtime conservative leader. He is a member of the Council for National Policy and the Conservative Caucus, and served on the steering committee of Coalition on Revival. Rushdoony's writings and the work of Chalcedon have had a major impact on the Christian Right. For years, millions of Christians have embraced what Reconstructionists derisively call "escapism theology." That is, Jesus will return soon, in fact, at any moment, and *then* everything will be all right. Christian Reconstruction simplified, says, "No, the Church must first set up Christ's Kingdom on earth, the Christ will return." While many evangelical Christians still believe the imminent return theory, significant numbers have switched. Most of these Christians would not label themselves Reconstructionist, but they embrace the doctrine. The significance of the shift in doctrine is that most of evangelical Christianity has been apolitical, believing that salvation and the imminent return were the only answer in a world largely governed by Satan. Reconstructionism argues instead that the kingdom of God on earth is built not only by evangelism, but by the implementation of Biblical law. The only way to get Biblical law is through politics. No need to wait. Christian Reconstructionism teaches that every aspect of society must come under Biblical law. This includes the death penalty for "practicing homosexuals," abortionists, heretics, blasphemy, and even disobedient sons. Rushdoony considers democracy to be "heresy" and he advocates total Christian theocracy. "Supernatural Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies," he writes. "Democracy is the great love of the failures and coward of life." Similarly, Rushdoony opposes pluralism because "in the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions." Chalcedon was a leader in establishing the notion of special Christian legal organizations. The Rutherford Institute was founded with the help of Chalcedon to promote, through the courts, the Religious Right's agenda. Chalcedon holds seminars, promotes speakers, publishes numerous books and position papers, and distributes a series of 16 programs on videotape. Publications include the *Chalcedon Report*, a monthly 32-page magazine, and the semiannual *Journal of Christian Reconstructionism*. Some of Chalcedon's books are published by Ross House Books, a separate, non-profit, tax-exempt affiliated organization. In 1991, Chalcedon received $634,264 in contributions, gifts, and grants. The group also received $57,486 in tuition at their Christian day school; $5,533 from journal sales; $3,571 in speaking and writing fees; and $10,092 from sales of tapes and videos. Besides Rushdoony, the board of directors includes Mark Rushdoony, Dorothy (Mrs. R.J.) Rushdoony, actor John Sanders III, conservative philanthropist Howard Ahmanson, political consultant Wayne Johnson, and Daniel Harris. Tens of thousands of dollars in fees and honoraria are paid each year to a dozen associates, including Otto J. Scott, Samuel Blumenfield, John Lofton, Joseph McAuliffe, and Gary Moes. Chalcedon enjoys the privilege of wealthy board members and other contributors. Rushdoony's work is well established, and his books and tapes will continue to sell. Chalcedon has had and will continue to have a great effect on the Religious Right. For Further Reading: "Democracy as Heresy" by Rodney Clapp, Christianity Today, February 20, 1987. "The Christian Reconstructionists" by Anson Shupe, The Christian Century, October 4, 1989. "Prophets of a Biblical America" by Anson Shupe, The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 1989. "Grace Under Pressure" by Marge Covino, Sacramento News and Review, October 20, 1994. "Heaven on Earth? The Social and Political Agendas of Dominion Theology" by Bruce Barron, Zondervan, 1992. "The Coors Connection" by Russ Bellant, South End Press, 1991.


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