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Posts for January, 2008

Huckabee’s Christian Reconstructionist Ties Run Deep

Jim Burroway

January 6th, 2008

We reported earlier on Southern Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s fundraising event at the home of Houston multimillionaire Steven Hotze, a well-known Christian Reconstructionist. Pastor Rick Scarborough, who also maintains Reconstructionist beliefs, was there as well. Since then, we’ve learned that Huckabee’s ties go far deeper than mere acquaintances and financial backers. He has a history of working very closely with some very well-known Reconstructionists over the years. In this report, we will examine two of Huckabee’s closest Reconstructionist colleagues.

Modern Christian Reconstructionism (sometimes known as Dominionism) was founded by the late R.J. Rushdoony and his son-in-law, Gary North. Rushdoony believed that it was the duty of every Bible-believing Christian to place each and every word of the Bible at the core of that person’s life. According to Rushdoony, this meant that the Bible must necessarily replace all civil laws and constitutions with the Old and New Testaments, including the revival of the death penalty for homosexuality, incest, adultery, lying about one’s virginity, and apostasy or public blasphemy, among a much longer list of biblical crimes. Rushdoony wrote that Democracy is a heresy and “the great love of the failures and cowards of life.”

George Grant
These are core beliefs among several leading figures in Huckabee’s circle. One such prominent figure is George Grant, a well-known Reconstructionist who appeared with Rushdoony in the video, God’s Law and Society. Grant was the co-author for Huckabee’s 1998 book, Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence. That was the book where Huckabee and Grant lumped homosexuality with pedophilia, sadomasochism and necrophilia as “institutionally supported aberrations.”

Back cover of Huckabee and Grant’s book, “Kids Who Kill”

That line, which Huckabee defended, may well have come from Grant’s 1993 book, Legislating Immorality: The Homosexual Movement Comes Out Of The Closet. In that book, Grant compares homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality. He also calls for the death penalty for gays, saying “[t]here is no such option for homosexual offenses” except capital punishment.

In 1987 George Grant wrote The Changing Of The Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action, in which he made his call for a theocratic overthrow explicit. On reading these passages, there can be no doubt exactly what Grant is calling for:

Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ – to have dominion in the civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

But it is dominion that we are after. Not just a voice.

It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.

It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.

It is dominion we are after.

World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less.

If Jesus Christ is indeed Lord, as the Bible says, and if our commission is to bring the land into subjection to His Lordship, as the Bible says, then all our activities, all our witnessing, all our preaching, all our craftsmanship, all our stewardship, and all our political action will aim at nothing short of that sacred purpose.

Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land – of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. It is to reinstitute the authority of God’s Word as supreme over all judgments, over all legislation, over all declarations, constitutions, and confederations. True Christian political action seeks to rein the passions of men and curb the pattern of digression under God’s rule. (pp. 50-51)

Grant has attained considerable influence within broader evangelical circles. He once served as executive director for D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries, and he has been a vocal advocate for evangelicals withdrawing their children from public schools. Grant operates several educational organizations in Franklin, Tennessee, including a Christian school, and an adult education center. He is “reluctantly” in the process of developing a home-school curriculum.

Bill Gothard
Gothard and HuckabeeAnother strong Reconstructionist tie can be found in Rev. Huckabee’s longtime relationship with Bill Gothard. Gothard runs an outfit called the Institute In Basic Life Principles. As part of the teachings at his institute, Gothard has espoused some very radical principles. The evangelical non-profit Personal Freedom Outreach, whose mission is to warn fellow evangelicals about pronouncements which are considered heretical from an Evangelical point of view, criticized several very odd aspects of Gothard’s theology:

Take for example Gothard’s “Cabbage Patch” flap. In 1986, he taught that the highly popular Cabbage Patch Dolls were causing strange and destructive behavior in children that could only be alleviated when the dolls were removed or destroyed.

In a letter from his organization, his followers were told by representative Ginger Jones that to enter into a written agreement to love a doll was a violation of the First Commandment. The threat as seen by Gothard was that by adopting a doll, children might not want to raise up their own godly children. Children may “love” dolls as they do other toys but this does not mean they worship them.

Testimonials were included with the above letter about the awful effects of the dolls with no allowance made for other environmental and social factors in the homes. The Cabbage Patch doll became a scapegoat.

If only Gothard’s teachings were limited to children’s toys. Unfortunately, it is just one small and amusing manifestation of Gothard’s extremism. Gothard teaches that all of life’s problems can be traced to poor “character choices.” Those choices result in a large number of societal “ills,” including homosexuality, divorce, contraception, crime — even mental illness. In one video, Gothard claims that there is no such thing as mental illnesses, and everything that we call “mental illness” — including schizophrenia — are the direct result of making poor character choices. Among the many unaccredited “training institutes” that Gothard runs is something called “The Medical Training Institute of America,” which emphasizes “the Biblical mandate to call for the elders of the church for prayer before receiving medical treatment for a serious illness.” He describes the “power of crying out” to cure brain tumors, cancer and infertility.

Gothard insists that families and communities must organize themselves on a strict interpretation of Christian Reconstructionist principles. In addition to Cabbage Patch Dolls, he also forbids dancing, dating, rock music (even Christian rock) and “wrong clothes.” Wives must submit to their husbands, adults must submit to their patriarch (the husband’s father), and couples must discard all forms of birth control. Families should limit their contact with those who are not “saved,” they should lock their misbehaving children into “prayer closets,” and they should home-school their children.

To help families with that last injunction, Gothard maintains a home school curriculum, composed of a series of “wisdom booklets” in which “the Bible is the main textbook” for all subjects in the curriculum, including science and mathematics. Gothard’s most famous home-school alumnus to date is probably Matthew Murray, the “Colorado Shooter” who killed four people in two separate shooting sprees in Arvada and Colorado Springs. The particularly tragic irony is that there is evidence that Matthew Murray may have been suffering from mental illness — he reportedly heard voices, which is often a symptom of some forms of schizophrenia which Gothard dismissed as a mere character flaw.

While little is known about Gothard outside the evangelical movement, he claims to have built a large following of 2.5 million alumni of his 25-hour basic seminar since 1964. Matthew Murray’s parents are reportedly among his alumni. Another alumnus is none other than Rev. Mike Huckabee, who wrote this endorsement of Gothard’s prison program, which was implemented in at least one Arkansas state prison:

As a person who has actually been through the Basic Seminar, I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people.

Huckabee has also Gothard’s “Character Cities” program, which is a secular front organization which tries to inject Reconstructionist goals into local politics under the radar. So far, 171 cities, 37 counties and 8 states have adopted resolutions. In 1997, the Ocala Star-Banner reported on a meeting Gothard held in Little Rock with members of Huckabee’s administration:

Gothard has described his meeting in Little Rock as the start of something big. He said it laid the groundwork for “the most exciting opportunity I can imagine” to merge the institute’s teachings with government programs. In a letter published on the institute’s Internet site, Gothard said his organization has been asked to “present a plan and contract to restructure ( Arkansas’ ) welfare program, their educational system and their juvenile justice methods.” He also claims that Gov. Huckabee’s aides “have already begun taking steps” to put the proposal into action.

What Does Rev. Huckabee Believe?

It’s hard to know where Huckabee himself stands in all of this since he is coy about addressing how he sees the role of church and state. In his 1997 book, Character Is The Issue: How People With Integrity Can Revolutionize America, Huckabee claimed that he despised “legalism” in the Church as much as liberalism (p. 74). Nevertheless, he casts the struggle between liberalism, which he describes as godless, and his form of Christianity as a political fight in which only one side can emerge victorious:

Here’s the bottom line not just for Arkansas and America, but for the world: one worldview will prevail. Either by numbers or persuasion, one side of this polarized culture will defeat the other in setting public policy. When two irreconcilable views emerge, one is going to dominate. Ours will either be a worldview with humans at the center or with God at the center. Standards of right and wrong are either what we establish as human beings (standards which can be changed to suit us), or they are what God has set in motion since the creation of the world.

… The winning worldview will dominate public policy, the laws we make, and every other detail of our existence. (p. 137)

Huckabee clearly believes that his campaign is a part of “what God has set in motion.” Those beliefs echoed throughout his address to students at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, where he explained why he thought his poll numbers were rising:

There’s only one explanation for it, and it’s not a human one. It’s the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of five thousand people. (Applause and cheers)

And that’s the only way that our campaign could be doing what it’s doing. And I’m not being facetious, nor am I trying to be trite. There literally are thousands of people across this country who are praying that a little will become much, and it has. And it defies all explanation. It has confounded the pundants, and I’m enjoying every minute of their trying to figure it out. And until they look at it from a… just experience beyond human, they’ll never figure it out. And that’s probably just as well. That’s honestly why it’s happening.

Hat tips: Wayne Besen, Cincinnati Beacon

See also:
Rev. Huckabee: “Obey God’s Orders”