Max Blumenthal: The history of modern conservatism starts with R.J. RushdoonyRoundup: Talking About History
1. You open your first chapter with a portrait of R.J. Rushdoony, the son of survivors of the Armenian genocide, who devoted his life to a socially conservative vision of Calvinism that sees the United States as a political extension of that religion. What led you to pick a fairly exotic figure like Rushdoony as a starting point for your account, when most students of the religious right in America would put the Southern Baptists at the movement’s heart?
Rushdoony’s tomes advocating the replacement of America’s constitutional democracy with a theocracy based on Leviticus case law–under which disobedient children, witches, adulterers, abortion doctors, and blasphemers would be executed–provided the antecedents of the Christian right with a blueprint for the government it hoped to establish. Rushdoony’s vision of the church supplanting government functions like healthcare and schooling, a system he called Christian Reconstructionism, also influenced the rise of right-wing libertarianism.
Bush faith-based initiatives guru Marvin Olasky referenced Rushdoony in some his early writings. Olasky was clearly influenced by the libertarian undercurrents of Christian Reconstructionism. Rushdoony’s greatest financial angel was another libertarian: Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., a reclusive far-right businessman and the son of one of Southern California’s most renowned philanthropists. As I report in my book, Rushdoony became Ahmanson’s surrogate father after he inherited $300 million dollars at age 18, then went crazy, spending two years in a mental institution. In return, Ahmanson funded Rushdoony’s think tank as well as initiatives from Intelligent Design to California’s anti-gay Prop 8 that have advanced his dream of American theocracy.
Rushdoony is also important because of his influence on Francis Schaeffer. During the 1960’s, Schaeffer became an icon of the Jesus Freak movement, operating a Christian hippy commune in the Swiss Alps. He counted LSD guru Timothy Leary as a friend, and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was sighted with a copy of one of Schaeffer’s books in his back pocket.
After Roe v. Wade, Schaeffer became convinced the government had legalized infanticide. He was radicalized almost overnight and began churning out polemics urging evangelicals to use “force in the defensive posture,” a watchword for domestic terrorism, to stop abortion. While Rushdoony provided the Christian right with its governmental blueprint, Schaeffer offered it the political strategy–organizing against abortion–it required to attack America’s secular underpinnings, including the moderate Republican establishment. It’s important to remember that prior to Schaeffer, right-wing evangelical leaders like Jerry Falwell were fixated on stopping the racial integration of their so-called “private Christian schools.”...
comments powered by Disqus
Randll Reese Besch - 11/4/2009
They have an aversion to our form of gov't and a Libertarian (for their Capitalism) and the strict Leviticus Laws backed by the plenary military-police and we have a recipe for disaster and the end of the republic.
- 5 Hard-Earned Lessons from Past Pandemics
- Museum’s Future Clouded by Chance Discovery: Swastika Hiding in Plain Sight
- 'And The World Went Crazy': How Hollywood Changed After Hiroshima
- America’s Military Should Confront Its Past, Not Bury It
- Trump and the Suburbs: Is He Out of Tune with America's Increasingly Diverse Voters?
- Paul Seaver, Leading Historian of Early Modern England, Dies at 88
- Trump has Never Even Read a 'Children's Book' about Abraham Lincoln: Douglas Brinkley (Video)
- Taking My Children to See Frederick Douglass
- How the GOP Became the Party of Resentment
- The Nation’s First Civil-Rights Law Needs to Be Fixed