Monday, March 19, 2007

A Reconstructionist Takeover Video

In February 1990 I received an unsolicited video in the mail. The video came from a Dr. Stephen Hotze and was entitled "Restoring America: How You Can Impact Civil Government." Filmed at a church in my neighborhood, I recognized the actors as the pastor and congregants of an Independent Fundamental Baptist church (the Jerry Falwell kind). The video was a guide on how to 1) take over a Republican Party precinct meeting, 2) elect "Christian" delegates to the GOP District meeting, and 3) put planks supporting the theocratic agenda of Christian Reconstructionism into the party platform.

After reciting the standard mythology about America being a Christian nation, about the influence of Christianity on the reconstruction of the South after the civil war, and about the threat of modern secularism, here is what Hotze said on the video:

Biblically, the legitimate role of civil government is to provide justice based upon the absolute standards of God's law, to restrain wickedness, to punish evil doers, and to protect the life, liberty and property of law abiding citizens.

Christians have the responsibility to be actively involved in family, church and civil government arenas. There is no neutrality. Civil government will either reflect biblical Christianity or it will reflect anti-Christian positions.

You can make the difference. The upcoming primary elections will provide you with the opportunity not only to exercise your right to vote but also to attend precinct conventions which occur at your polling place after the polls close. The precinct convention is the most critical meeting for you to attend if you want to have an impact in the area of civil government.
[To hear an audio podcast (an mp3 file) of Hotze's 8 minute speech, click here and give it time to download.  To hear the audio from the entire 34 minute video, click here and give it time to download.]

I was not registered as a Republican, but I knew that a good friend of mine, a retired moderate Baptist preacher (Jack Selcraig, recently deceased), chaired the GOP precinct in my neighborhood. I called him and advised him about the organized attempt to takeover of his precinct.  He survived the challenge that year (they ousted him the next election cycle), but nearly all of the other Republican Party precinct leaders in Harris County lost their chairs.

Hotze's dominion over politics in Houston, Texas (the third largest city in the U.S.) began that year -- just in time to prepare for service as host of the 1992 GOP National Convention. His reign lasted for around a decade -- until he was arrested for D.W.I. and fell from the good graces of his Fundamentalist followers. The machine he created, however, still rules over the Harris County Republican party and his success inspired and emboldened theocrats to takeover GOP precincts all over the country.

Along with his video tape, Hotze sent a written agenda and instructions for how to conduct a precinct meeting. He also suggested resolutions for the party's platform. Today, nearly all the planks that Hotze suggested can be found in the current platform of the Texas Republican Party.

Meanwhile, most of the country club Republicans who provide the funds for this theocratic juggernaut still seem to be sipping their cocktails in ignorant bliss.

Dominionists are patient revolutionaries. They work through the system to gain control. Then they work from within the system to change the system. The changes they are making are incremental. They have little respect for democracy and none for pluralism. They mean business and they already hold many of the mechanisms of power around the country.

It is long past time for Americans who love democracy to acknowledge what is at stake and start facing the challenge that these patient theocratic revolutionaries represent. Facing this challenge means organizing at the grass roots level -- precinct by precinct -- the same way they did. Rhetoric and writing alone, no matter how passionate, is not going to defeat them. In the end, what matters most is the number of ballots that are cast to oppose them and whether the votes are accurately recorded.

Tomorrow I'll post an essay about the Southern Baptist judge who offered them advice on how to use the system and patiently gain control of the mechanisms of power that they need to effect change.

1 comment:

Relprofjonas said...

Good comments Bruce. A mutual friend, Steve Abbott, did his dissertation at SWBTS around 1990 on the Kingdom of God in Christian Reconstructionism. Since he was pastoring a church in Waco at the time and using the Baylor library, we would discuss our dissertations with each other over lunch. That is where I first heard the name Rushdoony. Indeed, Christian Reconstructionism is potentially a serious threat to the American way. I suspect though, that when the average Christian (even Fundamentalist) hears the details, the would be just as horrified about it as we are. What scares me however is the number of politicians in Congress that may be influenced by it and I suspect that George Bush may even have some advisors that lean that way, especially in regards to Israel.

Glenn Jonas