Many on the left obsess over this strange notion that the religious right is conspiring to turn America into a theocracy. A case in point was a recent guest on my radio program “Fairness Radio with Chuck & Patrick.” Our guest, the ultra-liberal author and columnist Frederick Clarkson, stated, in a very scholarly and suave tone that he was convinced, after decades of research, that the Christian right was plotting a takeover.
I asked him to name names and, after some hemming and hawing, he came up with Rev. Pat Robertson and the late Rev. R.J. Rushdooney. He darkly identified these two ministers as “dominionists” or as having embraced “dominionist ideas.” I responded that his incoherent rumblings reminded me of the language used to describe the communist conspiracy in the post-World War II years which employed terms like “subversion” and “infiltration.”
He stated as evidence that Robertson had referred to America as a “Christian nation” and that Rushdooney had advocated Biblical law in America including the implementation of the death penalties listed in Leviticus, death penalties that he scornfully recounted for the benefit of our listeners. I argued that Robertson and Rushdooney were strict constitutionalists and that, as such, their advocacy of public policies would be consistent with and not contradictory to the US Constitution. While I might share some of his dis-agreements with certain policies that they advocated, I nevertheless support their right to that advocacy.
I contended that these ministers were not conspiring to overthrow the Constitution and to replace it with rule by any particular religious denomination, that Robertson and Rushdooney did not believe that Americans should swear a loyalty oath to Jesus. I would argue that Clarkson and his friends on the left have either conjured up this bogey-man in their fecund imaginations or they deliberately and consciously promote this lie as a means to discredit and to silence the opinions of conservative Christians.
It occurs to me that left-wingers like Clarkson impose their own authoritarian values on the religious right which, generally, believes in limited government, that moral and ethical laws ought to be made by elected legislators on the local and state level, and that those laws ought to comport with the US Constitution. When Robertson, for example, talks of a “Christian nation” he is referring to his desire to increase the influence of Christianity on American culture. He is not calling for Christianity to be declared as the legal national religion. The left would, conversely, be oriented toward a hyper nationalist society in which the so-called progressives would run everything for the good of “the little guy.”
Clarkson attempts to impugn the integrity of the Bible when he rattles off the death penalties included in the Book of Leviticus. He fails to conceive of the fact that those death penalties, most of which were rarely if ever imposed due to the system of jurisprudence that the Bible also established, a system that called for high levels of evidence and a system of due process, were and remain a means of limiting government. Ancient nations, contrary to biblical law, lawlessly murdered their own populations at the whim of the ruler.
Likewise, many modern left-wingers turned a blind eye to “progressive” Soviet and Nazi socialism which implemented the death penalty without rules or evidence. Those “progressive” modern regimes re-introduced the ancient and pagan practices of mass murder against individuals who had committed political crimes. The American system, rejecting both the ancient pagan system and the modern so-called progressive example, embraced a biblical system of jurisprudence that utterly rejects the concept of political crimes.
It is obviously absurd to suggest that conservative Christians would seek to implement Biblical death penalties. Clarkson would stop noisy Christians by claiming that their opinions are un-constitutional because they are Christian. It is logical to assume, especially when one considers the record that, if Clarkson and his left-wing friends were ever God forbid enthroned in America, they would declare anyone expressing opposition to their views as acting against the Constitution. Those who dared to oppose their “enlightened” view would be declared as law breakers, as politically incorrect, and therefore as enemies of the state. This begs the question in terms of who actually advocates a theocracy in America.