Sunday, March 18, 2007

Christian Nationalist "Minutemen" Convening in Lexington, MA?

Some of the same Christian Nationalists who helped fan the media hysteria over the staged events tied to "Judge Moore in Alabama, Terri Schiavo in Florida, and the 10 commandments in Washington DC" have called for a convocation April 19th-21st, 2007, of contemporary Christian patriot "Minutemen" at the historic Battle Green in Lexington, MA to save America from the new tryanny of the courts and the spreading sinful stain of homosexual marriage.

The convention is titled: "Someone Has Stolen My Country And I Want Her Back" and it is announced that at this meeting, just as the Minutlemen of 1776 rejected oppressive rule, the attendees will gather to reject the court decision at an event "Where we will have no other king but KING JESUS!" What prompted this new crusade is a federal court decision that the solution for parents who object to every aspect of a gay-tolerant curriculum is to send their children to private schools rather than having the courts favor their minority viewpoint by rewriting the curriculum. This, in the framing of the Christian Nationalists, is "judicial tyranny."

According to an announcement from Minutemen United:

"It seems as if Lexington, Mass. is ground zero in the battle for the soul of America. Just last week a Federal Judge in Boston threw out a law suit by David Parker. To read more about the Parker's legal battle with the government schools read here. When tossing the Parker case the judge said that normalizing homosexuality to young children is ' reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy.' According to Wolf, this means teaching 'diversity' which includes differences in sexual orientation. This case is about the rights of parents to 'train a child in the way that he should go.' The courts are consistently ruling against parents."

What follows is more detailed information:

The Convention

Sponsored by The Patriot Pastor & The Heroes of Liberty & The Minutemen United



April 19th-21st 2007 AD

The convention has rented the Knights of Columbus Hall at 177 Bedford St. in Lexington.

The Trumpet is being sounded again

To All Who Can Hear The Clarion Call and Respond.

There is an Alarm being sent through out The Nation from Sea to Shining Sea.

You can find one version of the flyer at:

The Heroes of Liberty may refer to the "Black-robed" ministers of the colonies called the "Black Regiment," according to Lear, who appears in full colonial regalia in photos on his website.

Lear appears a bit of a Falstaff in one photo where he stands next to an artful sign proclaiming:

Biblical View
of Government
...state is
...state authority is
...leads to
...results in Republic
...based on

Minutemen United

The group Minutemen United describes itself:

"Minutemen United is a group of men and women dedicated to creating an environment where Christian thoughts, ideals and leaders can get traction in the marketplace of ideas. We hail from New York to California and are headquartered in Ohio 'the heart of it all'. "
"We recognize and honor those brave souls who prayed, lived and died for our Constitutional Republic. We believe the founding fathers "got it" when they created a ruling document and supporting instruments that serve and undeniably recognize our creator - the God of Abraham , Isaac and Jacob."

According to Minutemen United:

"In April of 2006 a group of Christian Patriots traveled to Danbury, Connecticut and held a prayer vigil at the site of the original Danbury Baptist Church. It was at that church that the course of America changed when the Baptist constructed a letter to then-President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson's response of 1801 contained the much-quoted line "separation of church and state" that was eventually made law by Justice Hugo Black and the Supremes in 1947."

Minutemen United is run by Dave Daubenmire:

"Dave Daubenmire, a veteran 25 year high school football coach, was spurred to action when attacked and eventually sued by the ACLU in the late 1990's for alledgedly mixing prayer with his coaching."

"More than two centuries later we believe that America is facing another crisis. If God fearing men and women do not arise to action NOW, we believe that the very sovereignty of this great nation may once again be in jeopardy. It is our belief that the only thing that can save this nation is a return to Christ. We declare Him to be our Commander-in-Chief, and choose to fight the battle by standing on the Word of God."

Coach Dave Daubenmir also runs "Pass the Salt Ministries."

"Challenging the 'church of the Status Quo', Pass The Salt is calling Christians to engage the culture. By taking the fight to the enemy Coach Daubenmire has become a recognizable voice with the media as he is an unashamed, articulate, apologist for the Christian world view. Coach's willingness to stand with Judge Moore in Alabama, Terri Schiavo in Florida, and the 10 commandments in Washington DC, has enabled him to partner with some of the nationally known voices in America."

"In addition to his weekly radio show, Coach has made regular national appearances on Hannity and Colmes, CBS Evening News, Scarborough Country on MSNBC, Fox News, The Edge with Paula Zahn, Dayside with Linda Vester, and Court TV."

Featured products include an audio series titled "Rebuilding the Walls:"

Massachusetts was the site of the 2006 Liberty Sunday rally which I wrote about previously:

October 15: Liberty Sunday - Bigotry, Gay Bashing, and Partisan Pandering

Liberty Sunday: Gay Bashing for Republican Victory

Post comments on this article at Talk2Action.

Friday, March 16, 2007

God, Calvin, and Social Welfare - Part Eight: The Child, the Family, the Nation, and the World

This series has traced the role of early Calvinism on a particular aspect of theocratic Christian nationalism that fits neatly into what Michelle Goldberg calls a "totalist political ideology," (p. 8). Christian nationalists do not just want to enforce narrow authoritarian frameworks on their own children and families--they see this hierarchical model as necessary for reforming the community, the nation, and the entire world.

While Christian Right dominionists seem obsessed with gender issues, they have been melded into an ultraconservative political movement that shares with them an interest in two other issue areas: hyper-individualistic libertarian economic policies, and an aggressive unilateral U.S. foreign policy.

John Calvin

The ultraconservative coalition was carefully crafted over many decades. When ultraconservative political strategists saw how many Christian evangelicals voted for "born again" Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter in 1976, they set out to pull these voters back into the Republican Party to reshape it and move it to the political right (Berlet & Lyons: pp. 220-224; see note one).

As Matthew N. Lyons and I explain in Right-Wing Populism in America:

"A key step in this movement-building process took place in 1979, when Robert Billings of the National Christian Action Council invited rising televangelist Jerry Falwell to a meeting with right-wing strategists Paul Weyrich, Howard Phillips, Richard Viguerie, and Ed McAteer. The main idea was to push the issue of abortion as a way to split social conservatives away from the Democratic Party. This meeting came up with the idea of the "Moral Majority," which Falwell turned into an organization. The New Right coalition really jelled at this point with the creation of a frame of reference with which to mobilize a mass base, (Berlet & Lyons: p. 222; citing D'Souza, pp. 105-118; Martin, pp. 200-201; Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, pp. 49-63).

Anxiety over changing gender roles were linked in subtle ways to White tensions over race relations.

"Following Wallace's example, the New Right used coded racial appeals while avoiding explicit ethnic bigotry. Racism was reframed as concern about specific issues such as welfare, immigration, taxes, or education policies. Movement activists such as Viguerie denounced liberal reformism as an elitist attack on regular working people. In some cases, this antielitism drew directly on the producerist tradition" (Berlet & Lyons: p. 222)

For example, ultraconservative activist William Rusher declared that a:

"new economic division pits the producers--businessmen, manufacturers, hard-hats, blue-collar workers, and farmers--against the new and powerful class of non-producers comprised of a liberal verbalist elite (the dominant media, the major foundations and research institutions, the educational establishment, the federal and state bureaucracies) and a semipermanent welfare constituency, all coexisting happily in a state of mutually sustaining symbiosis,"(Rusher: p. 14; see note two)

So gender, race, and collectivism were hot buttons to be pushed along with the classic staple of the Christian Right: fear of communism and the Soviet Union. As Kazin expalins, the New Right coalition was a "multi-issue, multi-constituency offensive" that developed a new set of frames through which to see politics in the United States:

"Conservatives talked like grassroots activists but were able to behave like a counter-elite. Within their coalition were Sunbelt corporations opposed to federal regulation and high taxes; churches mobilized to reverse the spread of "secular humanism"; local groups that protested school busing, sex education, and other forms of bureaucratic meddling in "family issues," and foundations that endowed a new generation of intellectuals and journalists, (Kazin: p. 247).

The central scapegoats used to mobilize mass support included abortion, gay
rights, and prayer in schools. "Family Values" became a code word for a
particular form of Christian conservative social and political practice.

Since the 1980s and the rise of the Christian Right, public policy regarding social welfare (and especially the treatment of criminals) has echoed the patriarchal and punitive child-rearing practices favored by many Protestant fundamentalists. Most readers will recognize the phrase: "Spare the rod and spoil the child." This idea comes from a particular authoritarian version of fundamentalist belief.

According to Greven:

"The authoritarian Christian family is dependent on coercion and pain to obtain obedience to authority within and beyond the family, in the church, the community, and the polity. Modern forms of Christian fundamentalism share the same obsessions with obedience to authority characteristic of earlier modes of evangelical Protestantism, and the same authoritarian streak evident among seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Anglo-American evangelicals is discernible today, for precisely the same reasons: the coercion of children through painful punishments in order to teach obedience to divine and parental authority," (Greven: p. 198).

The belief in the awful and eternal punishment of a literal Hell justifies the punishment, shame, and discipline of children by parents who want their offspring to escape a far worse fate. This includes physical or "corporal" forms of punishment. "Many advocates of corporal punishment are convinced that such punishment and pain are necessary to prevent the ultimate destruction and damnation of their children's souls," (Greven: p. 62).

This is often accompanied by the idea that a firm male hand rightfully dominates the family and the society, (Greven: p. 199).

The system of authoritarian and patriarchal control used in some families is easily transposed into a framework for conservative public policy, especially in the criminal justice system.

Lakoff explains that on a societal level, according to conservative "Strict Father morality, harsh prison terms for criminals and life imprisonment for repeat offender are the only moral options." The arguments by conservatives are "moral arguments, not practical arguments. Statistics about which policies do or do not actually reduce crime rates do not count in a morally-based discourse." These "traditional moral values" conservatives tend not to use explanations based on the concepts of class and social causes, nor do they recommend policy based on those notions," (Lakoff: p. 201).

According to Lakoff:

For liberals the essence of America is nurturance, part of which is helping those who need help. People who are "trapped" by social and economic forces need help to "escape." The metaphorical Nurturant Parent--the government--has a duty to help change the social and economic system that traps people. By this logic, the problem is in the society, not in the people innocently "trapped." If social and economic forces are responsible, then other social and economic forces must be brought to bear to break the "trap."

This whole picture is simply inconsistent with Strict Father morality and the conservative worldview it defines. In that worldview, the class hierarchy is simply a ladder, there to be climbed by anybody with the talent and self-discipline to climb it. Whether or not you climb the ladder of wealth and privilege is only a matter of whether you have the moral strength, character, and inherent talent to do so, (Lakoff: p. 203).

To conservatives, the liberal arguments about class and impoverishment, and institutionalized social forces such as racism and sexism, are irrelevant. They appear to be "excuses for lack of talent, laziness, or some other form of moral weakness," (Lakoff: p. 203).

Much of this worldview traces to the lingering backbeat of Calvinist theology that infuses "common sense" for many conservatives. To this brand of conservatism, it doesn't matter if it is the child, the family, the community, the nation, or the entire world: to avoid chaos and immorality, there needs to be a strong authority figure willing to apply punishment, shame, and discipline--verbally if possible--through physical force and violence if need be.

The Bush administration, with the backing of millions of Christian conservatives, seeks to reform the global village by spanking its perceived miscreants--and they have the military arsenal to back up this neo-Calvinist authoritarian worldview.


Berlet, Chip and Matthew N. Lyons. 2000. Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. New York: Guilford.

Brooks, Clem, and Jeff Manza. (1996). "The Religious Factor in U.S. Presidential Elections, 1960-1992." Paper, annual meeting, American Sociological Association, New York, NY. Revised and included in Jeff Manza and Clem Brooks, Social Cleavages and Political Change: Voter Alignment and U.S. Party Coalitions (pp. 85-127). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Diamond, Sara. (1989). Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right. Boston: South End Press.

Diamond, Sara. (1995). Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States. New York: Guilford Press.

Diamond, Sara. (1998). Not by Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right. New York: Guilford Press.

D'Souza, Dinesh. (1984). Falwell, Before the Millennium: A Critical Biography. Chicago: Regnery Gateway.

Green, John C., James L. Guth, and Kevin Hill. (1993). "Faith and Election: The Christian Right in Congressional Campaigns 1978-1988." The Journal of Politics, vol. 55, no. 1, February, pp. 80-91.

Greven, Philip. 1991. Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological Impact of Physical Abuse. New York: Knopf.

Hardisty, Jean V. (1999). Mobilizing Resentment: Conservative Resurgence from the John Birch Society to the Promise Keepers. Boston: Beacon.

Himmelstein, Jerome L. (1990). To the Right: The Transformation of American Conservatism. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kazin, Michael. (1995). The Populist Persuasion: An American History. New York: Basic Books.

Lakoff, George. [1996] 2002. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Martin, William. (1996). With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America. New York: Broadway Books.

Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant. (1994). Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.

Phillips, Kevin P. (1975). Mediacracy: American Parties and Politics in the Communications Age. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Rusher, William. (1975). The Making of the New Majority Party. Ottawa, IL: Greenhill Publications.

Note One: On Christian Evangelical Voting Patterns:

These are the cites Matthew N. Lyons and I used to explain how we arrived at our survey of voting patterns:

Sara Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, pp. 55-56; Roads to Dominion, pp. 172-177, 209-210, 231-233; Not by Politics Alone, pp. 67-69; Himmelstein, To the Right, pp. 122-123; Green, Guth, and Hill, "Faith and Election"; William Martin, With God on Our Side, pp. 148-159, 197-220; Brooks and Manza, "Religious Factor."

Viguerie estimated that between 5 million and 7.5 million "born-again Christians voted for Nixon or Wallace in 1968 and for Nixon in 1972, but switched to Carter in 1976," and that he and his allies in the New Right set out to win them back to vote for Reagan in 1980 (Viguerie, New Right, pp. 155-174, quote from p. 156). This figure is probably unrealistically high, but the belief in those numbers helped shape the New Right election strategy.

Diamond credits the addition of 2 million new voters in 1980 to "the combined efforts of Moral Majority, Christian Voice, and New Right electoral vehicles" like Howard Phillips's Conservative Caucus and Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation (Roads to Dominion, p. 233).

Note Two: On Rusher

The quote from Rusher in Making of the New Majority Party, is also quoted in Omi and Winant, Racial Formation, p. 127. Rusher, in his text, urges readers to consult Kevin Phillips' book: Mediacracy.

God, Calvin, and Social Welfare: A Series

Part One: Coalitions
Part Two: Calvinist Settlers
Part Three: Roots of the Social Welfare Debate
Part Four: Apocalypse and Social Welfare
Part Five: Fundamentals, Prophecies, and Conspiracies
Part Six: Godlessness & Secular Humanism
Part Seven: Born Again Political Activism
Part Eight: The Child, The Family, The Nation, & the World

Based on the Public Eye article "Calvinism, Capitalism, Conversion, and Incarceration"

Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates

The Public Eye: Website of Political Research Associates

Human Rights, Civil Liberties, and Apocalyptic Thinking - 3

A Speech by Chip Berlet

This audio program is part three of a speech I gave in 2006.

The full title of this speech was originally: "Theocracy, Christian Nationalism and Civil Liberties: Church and State in the New Millennium."

The event was co-sponsored by Nebraska REASON (Rationalists, Empiricists and Skeptics of Nebraska), and the Nebraska Chapter of American United for Separation of Church and State.

The speech was delivered in Omaha, September 20, 2006 at REASON's 7th Annual Fall Forum held at the Durham Research Center on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus.

The introduction is by Tim Butz, former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska and an old friend and ally.

The speech is divided into three segments, and has been edited.

This is part three.