by John R. Coats
You are at home with your family, watching a bit of television, playing a game, sharing a meal. An alarm, like an air raid siren, sounds. It's time. You, your spouse (cohabitation outside marriage is forbidden) and children (a boy, fourteen, a girl, twelve) walk the few blocks to where the hundred or so residents from your immediate area are gathering into a large circle around a shallow pit. An arm-banned Monitor directs you to the nearest stones. As always, there are two piles, one of smaller stones, each approximately one inch in diameter. These are for tearing the flesh. It is the larger stones, these approximately three inches in diameter that do the killing when thrown with sufficient force, and in sufficient numbers. Still larger stones are available to the Monitors, should they be needed. Just yesterday it was the Smith's boy, their youngest, who'd been disrespectful to his parents one too many times. How could he not know what would happen? How many times had he heard the same words as everyone else from the founder's book, The Institutes of Biblical Law: “The biblical law-order requires the death of incorrigible delinquents and criminals”... “Seeing that parents stand towards their children as God's representative, obstinate rebellion is regarded as akin to blasphemy, and is condemned to the same punishment. Pity...is specifically forbidden as evil in certain cases. Obviously, in the law concerning the delinquent son pity for the son is forbidden.”
He is referring, of course, to Deuteronomy 21:18-21: “If a man has a wayward and defiant son who does not heed his father or mother and does not obey them even after they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the public place of his community. They shall say to the elders of his town, ‘This son of ours is disloyal and defiant; he does not heed us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Thereupon the men of his town shall stone him to death, thus you will sweep out all evil from your midst: all Israel will hear and be afraid.”
Today it is the Jones's daughter, their youngest, married only two nights ago to that young minister. What a shock it had been to learn that he'd denounced her for not having been a virgin-which, sadly, tragically, was properly verified. They're bringing her out now, the Monitors dragging her-her hands and feet are bound-to the narrow hole at the center of the pit, just wide enough to accommodate her slender torso, and deep enough so that her head and shoulders are above ground. They drop her in, pack dirt around her until she can move only her head. All the time she's sobbing, of course, intermittently screaming something in the direction of her parents and brother. All you can make out is a sort of vibrato “Please...please.” And no wonder-having participated in any number of these, she knows what's coming. Your daughter takes one of the smaller stones, your son, a larger one. You take the nearest large stone, surprised that a thickish gob of the Smith boy's blood had caught in a shallow crevice and not quite dried.
Think of it as the New American Dream, the vision of an increasing number of those who, as if it were the punch line of some twisted joke, call themselves Christians and Americans. (They're in Europe, too, Africa, elsewhere.) Followers of “Christian Reconstructionism,” an ultra right religious sect founded by Rousas John Rushdoony, they are quietly, though energetically, working toward an American future in which the Constitution has been replaced by “600 or so Mosaic laws...the inflexible guide for the society [that Rushdoony's disciple Gary] DeMar and other Reconstructionists envision...” [in which] “There would be thousands of executions a year, with stoning a preferred method because it would turn the deaths into ‘community projects,’ as movement theologian [and Rushdoony's son-in-law Gary] North has noted.” (John Sugg, “A Nation Under God,” Mother Jones, December, 2005)
Then, the rest of the world.
Don't look for them in the news; they're not there. For sure, that business of stoning to death one's fellow citizens and their children would present a daunting challenge even for the best of public relations gurus, but mostly, it's because they are simply not in a hurry. As with the Nazis (for whom they've expressed admiration, and whose crimes, they've said, are overstated), whose experience with their 1923 Beer hall Putsch suggested that winning through the ballot box was the superior strategy to open rebellion, the Christian Reconstructionists, along with others from the Christian Right, have been busy with a bottom up, and quite legal, dismantling of the American Republic, and at so measured a pace that we hardly notice, beginning with grassroots control at the level of school boards, city councils, and such. A case in point is the Republican (read "religious right") dominated Texas Education Commission, which has been reinventing both Texas and American history. (Texas being the largest textbook market in the nation, keep an eye out for the same books of revisionist history to show up in your state's public schools as well.) State legislatures, too. Again, Texas is the example. In 2003, the Republican (again, read "religious right") dominated legislature gerrymandered the districts in such a way that it is a near impossibility for Democrats to gain a majority. Yes, I know, Democrats, too, have a history of this sort of behavior, but theirs was driven by power-happy politicians, not religious fanatics intent on establishing a theocracy.
Yep, Theocracy—a.k.a., religious totalitarianism. How? Through the simple arithmetic found in Article V of the Constitution of The United States: Dominate three-quarters of the state legislatures, and any amendment, including one that renders null and void the seven original articles of the Constitution and all previous amendments, and that institutes those 600 or so biblical laws as the law of the land, becomes a fait accompli. Or work to alter the meaning and definition of words until “up” means “down,” “right” means “left,” and “freedom” means “slavery”. This control of language, of meaning, what Hedges calls "'logocide,' the killing of words" is already underway. "Code words of the old [secular] belief system are deconstructed and assigned diametrically opposed meanings... ‘Wisdom’...refers to the level of commitment and obedience... ‘Liberty’ is not about freedom...'Love is distorted to mean an unquestioned obedience...” He goes on to quote Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister and master of the tactic: "The best propaganda is that which...works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative."
These are not some backwoods religious cult. They are smart, educated, organized, well-funded, and growing in numbers, power, and influence. Along with an end to the "blasphemy of democracy," replacing the Constitution of the United States with biblical law, their agenda includes the return of slavery, the closure of public schools, and the return of women to their proper, late-Bronze Age place, what Rushdoony called the man's “help-meet.” And along with disrespectful teenagers and young women who lie about their virginity, public execution, by stoning, will extend to adulterers, witches, blasphemers, and gay men. The Bible says nothing about murdering lesbians.
They are what Eric Hoffer so brilliantly identified in his post World War II book, The True Believer. Characteristic of all true believers of all times, Christian Reconstructionists are not interested in coexistence. They don't want a place at the table with brothers and sisters of other faiths. They want to establish their Late Bronze-Age (though surely digitalized) vision of God's kingdom in America, and then the world. They want your obedience, and mine, and they intend to have it.
It couldn't happen here? It is happening here. In 2008, the litmus test for Republican candidates for President of The United States—The United States—–was a public declaration of belief in the Bible's literal truth. We can scoff all we like, but while American progressives, disappointed by Obama and the Democratic Party's record of the past two years, stand ready not to vote in the upcoming elections, Christian Reconstructionists and the rest of the Christian Right stand ready to elect to local, state, and national office, candidates who believe, and want our children and grandchildren to believe, that the earth is 6,000 years old, that human children once rode on saddled dinosaurs–and that evil lies in our failure to stone to death anyone–friend, loved one, stranger—who violates a code written in a 2500 year old work of fiction. What these same progressives seem ready to forget is that elections rarely reflect the overall will of the people, but are, finally, the result of which supporters of this or that candidate or cause show up and vote in the greatest numbers. Which is exactly what the advocates of that New American Vision never forget, what they have been doing for most of the past three decades, and are ready to do again, and again...and again.