August 24, 2004
'We Could Control This Country': 33 Extreme Reasons to Give Bush the Boot
by Maureen Farrell
"I am deeply disturbed by the dangerous and growing influence of people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell on our nation’s political leaders." – Walter Cronkite, January, 2004
Last week, I wrote about how the GOP's secret bride, the Religious Right, will be shuffled into the broom closet during next week’s Republican National Convention. And lest you think this is a case of leftist "religion bashing," consider this: The National Council of Churches, which represents the country's Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians and 32 other denominations, has, against all tradition, been brushed aside by this President, while evangelicals have enjoyed unparalleled access.
"Bush has shown an ideological commitment to the literalist Christian tradition at the expense of the broader view of the larger religious community," National Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Bob Edgar told Salon.com, which is just a nice way of saying that the girl next door has been dumped for Tammy Faye Baker. "He is the first president not to meet with the leadership of mainline Christian traditions since George Washington. We've been able to talk with the prime minister of Britain and the chancellor of Germany, but not our own president."
The Reverend Fritz Ritsch also questioned this historic snub. "The president apparently believes that he can talk about theology from the bully pulpit without talking to theologians," Ritsch wrote in the Washington Post. "Which begs the question: When did the president become theologian in chief?"
"I trust God speaks through me," George Bush reportedly told a gathering in Lancaster, PA.
This zealous certainty, it seems, is one of the main characteristics differentiating the views of most mainstream denominations from the mindset the President appears to embrace. Another is the attitude towards the separation between church and state. "I'm for evangelicals running for public office and winning if possible and getting control of the Congress, getting control of the bureaucracy, getting control of the executive branch of government," the Rev. Billy Graham told viewers of the 700 Club in 1985. A little more than a decade later, author Frederick Clarkson underscored the reality behind this vision. Saying that the "wildest dreams of the far right in America may actually be within their reach — control of the Republican Party," he sensed that one day, someone like G.W.Bush could come along and give such dreams a touch of Wizard Of Oz clarity.
And so he has.
In the past few years, ABC News has openly speculated that Christian conservatives were responsible for Bush’s presidential nomination, the Washington Post has described Bush as the first U.S President to double as the Religious Right's "de facto leader," and the Guardian has reported that U.S. fundamentalists are "at the heart of power." Meanwhile, in the lusty month of May, the Bush White House was caught canoodling with rapture Christians.
"Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios," The Village Voice’s Rick Perlstein wrote, making stains on a blue dress seem oh-so-run-of-the-mill.
But if Monica Lewinski was Bill Clinton's fling, the Religious Right is George Bush's main sqeeze. John Green, an authority on evangelical political clout, recently explained how seriously Bush takes his far right base. "When George W. Bush talks politics in the White House, believe me, they talk about evangelicals. They ask, 'How are the evangelicals going to react to this; what are they going to make of that?'"
None of this would be of such grave concern if said evangelicals were happy to live and let live. But, alas, that’s not in the theocratic game plan. Many have endorsed what Clarkson refers to as "a revisionist view of American history," which, should it catch on, "threatens to erode the culture, and constitutional principle, of religious pluralism in the U.S." In other words, if extremists who've been batting away at the Constitution ever hit a home run, middle America will be embracing its own demise.
With "Assault on the Constitution" legislation passing in the House, and with similar bills waiting in the wings, that revisionist view is accepted by far too many lawmakers. And, while an unsuspecting public might not yet envision that creepy old preacher from Poltergeist II lurking in the shadows, the underlying truth is, if George Bush wins, some very scary people win, too.
With a foreign policy that reflects Biblical prophecy and a domestic agenda that caters to evangelicals, the President's intentions are either starkly dangerous or politically crafty -– with the end result being the same: George Bush is tinkering with something far too precious -- our country’s future.
With that in mind, here are 33 extreme reasons to give Bush the boot in November:
1. Howard Ahmanson: "On a mission from God to stop gay marriage, fight evolution, defeat "liberal" churches -- and reelect George W. Bush," this "quirky millionaire" (as Salon.com put it) is a chief financier of the Christian Reconstructionist movement. Affiliated with the Council for National Policy, he’s also been connected to the controversial voting machine company, ES&S.
2. Apostolic Congress: Calling themselves "The Christian Voice in the Nation's Capital," the Apostolic Congress, which believes that all of Old Testament Israel must belong to the Jews before Christ's return, recently met with Bush White House officials to make certain that U.S. policy towards Israel conforms to Biblical prophecy.
3. John Ashcroft: A former member of the Council for National Policy, John Aschroft was initially considered an extreme choice for Attorney General, but the folks at Prophecy Central rallied behind him, as did Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who reportedly anointed the America’s Attorney General with cooking oil, in the manner of King David.
4. Gary Bauer: Former executive committee member of the Council for National Policy and current president of American Values, Bauer was one of the signatories of the Project for a New America Century’s mission statement (along with Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz) and also signed an open letter to G.W. Bush on Sept. 20, 2001, pushing him to attack Iraq and, if need be, Syria and Iran.
5. Sen. Samuel Brownback: Living in a townhouse with five other Christian lawmakers (whose rents are subsidized by the "secretive" religious organization, the Fellowship), Sen. Brownback is a cosponsor of the Constitutional Restoration Act of 2004. He is perhaps most famous, however, for cosponsoring recent indecency legislation and being a bane to Howard Stern.
6. David Chilton: One of the nation’s leading Reconstruction theologians, David Chilton explains, in a single sentence, everything you need to know about the far Right’s agenda. "The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics," he said. Theocracy in America. Can anything be more un-American?
7. The Christian Coalition: A key player in the culture war, the Christian Coalition "applauds" recent legislative efforts to subvert the Constitution. Three especially frightening pieces of Christian Coalition-backed legislation are: The Constitution Restoration Act of 2004 ("If the Act passes, Iraqis would have stronger protection from religious extremism than Americans," columnist James Heflin wrote); The Congressional Accountability for Judicial Activism Act," (HR 3920) "to allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court"; and The Marriage Protection Act, which, having already passed in the House, could, according to the Atlanta Constitution Journal’s Jay Bookman, allow Congress to pass a law "making Christianity the national religion, and bar the courts from hearing a challenge."
8. Christian Reconstructionists/Dominionists: Deemed "scary," even by Jerry Falwell's followers, Dominionists literally want to impose Biblical law and reconstruct America as "the Kingdom of God on earth." In short, they seek to toss out the U.S. Constitution, override the authority of the Supreme Court and turn the U.S. into a theocracy. Embracing a "Biblical world view" as the only worldview, Reconstructionists would squelch democracy and all its trappings, while making homosexuality and other "sins" punishable by death. Rev. Timothy LaHaye, who played a role in putting Bush in the White House, was one of the movement’s framers.
9. Christian Zionists: Various news sources have reported on ways Biblical prophecy is influencing political reality – and the Christian Zionists' campaign to oust the Palestinians in order to make way for the Second Coming of Christ is especially bizarre. Highlighting both G.W. Bush’s and Tom DeLay’s involvement with this movement, the Guardian’s Matthew Engel spelled out how ‘dispensationalism’ (a doctrine "popularized in Rev. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins Left Behind novels) involves the Rapture, the Second Coming and the conversion of Jews. "In other words, these Christians are supporting the Jews in order to abolish them," Engel explained.
10. Committee to Restore American Values: During the 2000 presidential campaign, G.W. Bush made a scantly noticed pilgrimage to meet with about two dozen fundamentalist leaders. This committee, the Committee to Restore American Values, was chaired by Rev. Timothy LaHaye.
11. Concerned Women for America: Run by Rev. Timothy LaHaye's wife, Beverly, Concerned Women for America has been especially media-savvy. Most recently, the group spoke out against Ron Reagan Jr.'s push for stem-cell research by insinuating, via a nonmedical doctor, that Reagan's real agenda is to promote human cloning.
12. Council for National Policy: Co-founded by Rev. Timothy LaHaye, the Council for National Policy has included John Ashcroft, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell among its lengthy list of influential members. According to Rolling Stone, the impeachment effort against President Bill Clinton "was reportedly conceived at a June 1997 meeting of the CNP in Montreal." And as ABC reported, the group came under heavy scrutiny in 1999 following G.W. 's "king-making speech" wherein it was rumored that candidate Bush (depending on which report you believe), promised to take a "tough stance against gays and lesbians."
13. Tom DeLay: In 1985, former exterminator Tom DeLay found the Lord after watching a video by Dr. James Dobson. Thirteen years later, DeLay championed Dobson's cause through the formation of the Values Action Team. According to the Washington Post, in 2002, DeLay told evangelical Christians that "God is using him to promote ‘a biblical worldview’ in American politics." Now the most powerful man on Capitol Hill, DeLay recently announced that one of his policy goals will be "to reestablish what he sees as the rightful role of religion in public places. . . " Is it any wonder the Christian Coalition gives him a score of 100%?
14. Dr. James Dobson: Founder of Focus on the Family and its sister organization, the Family Research Council, James Dobson is, according to Focus cofounder Gil Alexander-Moegerle, "a tremendous threat to the separation of church and state." Dobson's criticism that Republicans were not adequately promoting the Religious Right's agenda was reportedly taken to heart by Tom DeLay and others who attended the 1998 Values Summit, which led to the creation of the Values Action Team -- and conservative Christians' increased clout in Congress.
15. Michael Evans: Author of The American Prophecies (advertised on the Drudge report as "the book Bush-haters don’t want you to read"), fundamentalist minister Michael Evans believes that Americans will experience God’s wrath unless they fully support the plan to expel the Palestinians from Israel. Also a columnist for World Net Daily, Evans believes that John Kerry is "bad for Israel."
16. Reverend Jerry Falwell: In 1998, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the U.S., he first called upon Jerry Falwell and then President Bill Clinton. Indeed, the most hard-line expansionist groups in Israel have gratefully welcomed support from Falwell and like-minded Christians, without perhaps fully considering the ultimate goal of dispensationalism (after the Antichrist’s mass slaughter of the Jews, survivors must convert to Christianity). Also affiliated with the Council for National Policy, Falwell reportedly financed and co-produced the infamous 'Clinton Chronicles,' videotape that suggested President Bill Clinton was guilty of a host of crimes.
17. The Family: Holding prayer groups at both the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense, the Family is an ‘invisible’ association of mostly public officials who have "strong ties" with "the oil and aerospace industries." According to Harper’s, its members include a dozen Senators and Congressmen who, like those preferring theocracy, consider "democracy a manifestation of ungodly pride." "Family" member Rep. Joseph Pitts was nominated by Tom DeLay to head the Values Action Team, which funnels the Religious Right's agenda to Capital Hill.
18. Jay Grimstead: In 1987, Coalition on Revival (COR) head Jay Grimstead began planning for a "long-range social and political takeover" of American politics. Five years later, author Frederick Clarkson wrote, "Never in the wildest dreams of the far right, nor for that matter, the rest of the GOP, did anyone think such people could get this far."
19. Reverend Timothy LaHaye: Co-founder of the Council for National Policy and one of the framers of the Reconstructionist movement, Reverend LaHaye is also the co-author of the extremely popular Left Behind series and believes 1) that the Bible is the literal word of God and that 2) Armageddon will be unleashed from "the Antichrist's headquarters in Babylon." (i.e. Iraq) Newsweek recently explained that "Bush and LaHaye have a history, and share a sense of mission." while, according to Rolling Stone, LaHaye "played a quiet but pivotal role in putting George W. Bush in the White House."
20. Kay Coles James: Former dean of the Pat Robertson School of government, Christian activist Kay Coles James is now director of the U.S. office of personnel. As Joe Bageant asks, "What better position than the personnel office from which to recruit more fundamentalists?" (For more information, see # 25, Patrick Henry College)
21. Hal Lindsey: One of the architects of Christian Zionism, best-selling author Hal Lindsey foresees Armageddon occurring within our lifetimes. "To the skeptic who says that Christ is not coming soon, I would ask him to put the book of Revelation in one hand, and the daily newspaper in the other, and then sincerely ask God to show him where we are on His prophetic time-clock," Lindsey wrote. And, as Gene Lyons explained, "The origins of Bush's flirtation with End Times rhetoric" lie specifically within "the prophetic novels of Hal Lindsey ("Blood Moon") and Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' "Left Behind" series.
22. Rev. Sun Myung Moon: "We must have an autocratic theocracy to rule the world," Reverend Moon once said, well before declaring himself to be "none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent" in the U.S. Senate. Owner of the Washington Times, and contributor to Christian organizations like Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, Rev. Moon has ties to Bush #41, Bush #43, and the Council for National Policy.
23. Judge Roy Moore: Referred to by some as "the Ten Commandments judge," Moore was also behind the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004, which says that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over "any matter" regarding public officials who acknowledge "God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government." As Frederick Clarkson wrote in the Christian Science Monitor, "Although Moore's movement has gained some political traction, its core premise has a fundamental flaw: It aims to ‘restore’ a Christian constitution that never existed."
24. Gary North: Former council for National Policy member and R.J. Rushdoony’s son in law (see #28), North has rightfully written that Article Six of the U.S. Constitution provides a "legal barrier to Christian theocracy." He hopes, however, that, in the wake of upcoming social upheaval, such protections fall by the wayside so that Dominionists might, as Wired explained, "build a harsh biblical order where sinners, such as adulterers and gay men, can be severely punished, even executed, preferably by stoning."
25. Patrick Henry College: Founded by Michael Farris (a Rev. Tim LeHaye protégé) and funded heavily by the Religious Right, Patrick Henry College was dubbed "The Bible College That Leads to the White House" by the U.K Independent. Requiring students and staff to sign statements saying that they interpret the Bible as the literal word of God, the school, which includes Mrs. John Ashcroft as a trustee, fulfills Rev. Mike Kiley’s plan to "raise up people" and "filter them into the right type of places." An inordinately high percentage of the school’s students have interned at the Bush White House.
26. Ralph Reed: The former head of the Christian Coalition and current chairman of Georgia's Republican Party, Ralph Reed explained Bush's rise to the White House in revolutionary terms. "You're no longer throwing rocks at the building; you're in the building," he told the Washington Post, adding that God "knew George Bush had the ability to lead in this compelling way." Though Time called Reed "the right hand of God" in 1995, by April, 2004, Atlantic Monthly reported that Reed "has moved on from doing God's work to doing George W. Bush's."
27. Pat Robertson: When former Council for National Policy member Pat Robertson resigned as head of the Christian Coalition, some saw it as a sign. "I think Robertson stepped down because the position has already been filled," Gary Bauer said, referring to President Bush’s role as the new head of the Religious Right. Robertson, who’s also been active in the Christian Reconstructionist/Dominionist movement, recently told 700 Club viewers that God told him George Bush would win in "a blowout election in 2004."
28. R.J. Rushdoony: Cofounder of both the Council for National Policy and the Christian Reconstructionist movement, the late R.J. Rushdoony lives on -- not only as the father of a political movement, but as a key contributor to the nation’s hard shift rightward. "With the Rushdoony faction proposing the actual judicial murder of gays, fewer blink at the position of a Gary Bauer or a Janet Folger, who support laws exposing them to mere imprisonment," Reason Magazine explained.
29. Justice Antonin Scalia: Author of the opinion granting G.W. Bush the presidency, Scalia, like members of "the Family," also bemoans "the tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government" -- a government, which, according to Biblical interpretations, "derives its moral authority from God" and is the "minister of God" with powers to "revenge" and "execute wrath."
30. Southern Baptist Convention: In Oct. 2002, the Miami Herald published an article entitled, "War in Iraq is Wrong, 51 Church Leaders Say," referring to what Jimmy Carter later described as an "almost universal conviction" by religious leaders that the war in Iraq did not fit St. Augustine’s just war criteria. The exception? According to Carter, "[A] few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology."
31. Herb Titus: Founding dean of Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School and legal counsel for Judge Roy Moore, Herb Titus drafted the controversial Constitutional Restoration act of 2004, which would not only bar the Supreme Court from reviewing cases in which public servants acknowledge God as the source of law, but it would make judges who rule on cases such as Judge Moore’s Ten Commandment debacle vulnerable to impeachment.
32. Traditional Values Coalition: The Traditional Values Coalition is especially involved in U.S. politics. In 2000, the Nation’s David Corn reported and how chairman/founder Louis Sheldon and others were "raising money to register and motivate Christian right voters to pull the lever for Bush."
33. Values Action Team: Formed in 1998 and operating out of Tom DeLay’s office, the Values Action Team reportedly funnels concerns of like-minded Christian conservatives into Capital Hill. As Sojourner Magazine explained, The Values Action Team gives Dr. James Dobson’s "Focus on the Family" and "30 or so other Religious Right member organizations a direct lobbying line to the U.S. Congress."
Of course, there are plenty more extremist groups out there, with plenty of clout. And in addition to sharing an incestuous relationship (Famed Reconstructionist Dr. George Grant, for example, is affiliated with Coral Ridge Ministries, which is run by former National Council for Policy member D. James Kennedy, who sat on the board of directors of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, which was also organized by Tim LaHaye), they seem to be driven by a single-minded determinism. "There are forty million people who claim to have been converted. If every one of those would simply win one other person to Christ, we could control this country," televangelist Kennedy once said.
On the other hand, America is still the home of great thinkers who would surely fight back. "Our president is a Christian? So was Adolf Hitler," Kurt Vonnegut recently wrote, proving that not everyone grasps the compassion of these conservatives.
And that’s the thing. These folks are not promoting the promise of America at her best, but are instead advocating the ills the Founders tried to protect against. They are striving to remake American in their stark revisionist image, and in doing so, are aiming for what America could become, at her worst.
Just as with the war in Iraq, Americans cannot afford to sleepwalk through this crucial time, or misjudge the debate as a case of partisan politics. After all, moderate conservatives have been up in arms over this takeover, too.
No, this involves something far greater than mere political posturing. This is about the America most of us know and love -- the country our own religious fanatics are trying to destroy.
Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.
© Copyright 2004, Maureen Farrell