By Gina Liggett
Americans United for Separation of Church and State conducted a recent study contradicting media reports about the decline of the Religious Right's influence. According to this study, not only do many of these organizations have multi-million dollar (and in some cases growing) budgets, but also plenty of political influence. And these organizations mean it when they say: "Are we losing America unless we take action now? The answer is yes!"
I will be doing a series of profiles of some of the major Religious Right organizations in America. My goal is to inform readers about who these various players are and how they plan to change America according to their religious beliefs. The question for rational people who want to preserve the Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state is: "Are we losing America if we allow the Religious Right to succeed? The answer is yes!"
My first profile is the Chalcedon Foundation (pronounced, Kal-SEE-don). Calling itself an "educational institution," it was founded in 1965 by Rousas John Rushdoony, considered by many to be the father of the "Christian Reconstructionist" movement. This sector of the Religious Right is most analogous to Islamic fundamentalism in its promotion of an American (and eventually world-wide) Christian theocracy. But the difference is that the Chalcedon Foundation hopes to achieve their heaven-on-earth by promoting Christianity through scholarship and education so that people "embrace" biblical ideas rather than having them "imposed" by government.
The Chalcedon Foundation explicitly and unabashedly declares:
We believe that the whole Word of God must be applied to all of life. It is not only our duty as individuals, families and churches to be Christian, but it is also the duty of the state, the school, the arts and sciences, law, economics, and every other sphere to be under Christ the King. Nothing is exempt from His dominion. We must live by His Word, not our own.Created as a response to the "prevalent evils of the modern world," particularly secular humanism, Christian Reconstructionists believe that it is necessary to "return to Biblical Law, ... exercising dominion and reclaiming lost spheres of authority for Christ the King." So, they say, "the role of every earthly government including family government, church government, school government, vocational government, and civil government is to submit to Biblical law."
There are several areas the Chalcedon Foundation emphasizes in order to elucidate how they will "work for godly cultural change across the entire spectrum of life." My assessment of each point follows in italics.
1. They believe that "sinners are saved solely on the ground of Christ's substitutionary, atoning death and law-keeping life, the passive and active obedience of Christ... [N]o law-keeping or works of any kind that man can perform could in any way secure or contribute to his justification or acceptance before God."
Biblical law and faith in God is absolute, and human-derived morality is "cursed." Therefore, a reality-based, reason-based philosophy of life is out of the question.
2. While the Christian Reconstructionists believe that "the Christian state should enforce Biblical civil law... and that the responsibility of Christians is to exercise dominion in the earth for God's glory," they explicitly renounce a desire to achieve this by political means. They claim that it is God -- not political-social change -- that will make men virtuous and thereby create a Christian society.
Although they actually go as far as to say that the purpose of the state is to protect "life, liberty and property" (no mention of the pursuit of happiness), what can only result is a dictatorship of the majority of converts. In their own words, "there can be no Christian society of any significance or longevity unless a large number of its members are Christians."
3. Christian Reconstructionists disavow the power of human "efforts, ingenuity, and strength...to bring in the kingdom of God on the earth," claiming that such would constitute a form of "humanism."
They are, in effect, saying that human action for human benefit is impotent, advocating instead passive reliance on faith in God's mandates.
4. They deny advocating state persecution for religious beliefs: "Biblical civil legislation is for a covenanted nation, not for modern, secular Western democracies at war with God. Our first objective is to work to Christianize them."
In other words, once the majority convert to the proper Christianity, then they will simply do what the Bible says should be done with non-believers.
5. Children of Christian parents are considered "saved," but they still must be taught the gospel: "We nourish and bathe them in the gospel and the Faith and train them up as Christians (Eph. 6:1-4), as God's property (Ezek. 16:8, 20-21)".
Children are to be obedient to Christian teaching; their lives are not their own; and forget any dreams of pursuing happiness as an end in itself.
6. The Chalcedon Foundation's promotion of Christian "scholarship" means: "The Bible forbids and condemns godless, faithless scholarship, not godly faithful scholarship (1 Cor. 1:18-31; 1 Tim. 4:13)."
This total rejection of the human mind and reality-based knowledge is the epitome of the "faith" versus "reason" divide that has condemned humanity to a life of misery for centuries in the past.
7. Here's the final clincher: "A guiding principle of Chalcedon, in fact, is its devotion to maximum individual freedom under God's law."
This is the ultimate contradiction-in-terms. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, freedom exists when a society upholds the individual's right to his own life and the pursuit of his happiness according to his independent judgment, uncoerced by others or the state. But in the Christian Reconstructionist's world, man is defined as a sinner whose life belongs to God, who accepts only faith in God's word as knowledge, who dutifully condones a society governed strictly by God's biblical laws, and who obeys the moral commandments of the Bible. Such a man can have no individual freedom. Chalcedon's Christian nation would be a Christian dictatorship.
The Chalcedon Foundation had a booth at this year's Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., where the most elite and well-connected of the Religious Right pow-wowed. A writer for Americans United observed that the Christian Reconstructionists's presence at the Summit was unprecedented, an indication that the Religious Right cares less about appearing "mainstream" to Americans and more about changing the culture.
The Chalcedon Foundation's attempt to appeal to Americans by saying they're for freedom and against imposing their views politically is not to be believed. Everything they stand for, everything they hope for, can only lead to one thing: Christian dictatorship. Their ideas must be trounced at every opportunity.