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2005-04-13 15:53:57 (UTC)

Caution: The Evangelists are on their way

This article written by Bob Moser for Rolling Stone is a
rather scary look at what the Christian, right-wingers are
attempting to do to the United States.

When will they realize that everyone in the United States
isn't Christian?

Please read this absolutely ridiculous and disturbing look
at the biased nature of Christian fundamentalists.

'The Crusaders:
Christian evangelicals are plotting to remake America in
their own image'

It's February, and 900 of America's staunchest Christian
fundamentalists have gathered in Fort Lauderdale to look
back on what they accomplished in last year's election --
and to plan what's next. As they assemble in the vast
sanctuary of Coral Ridge Presbyterian, with all fifty state
flags dangling from the rafters, three stadium-size video
screens flash the name of the conference: RECLAIMING AMERICA
FOR CHRIST. These are the evangelical activists behind the
nation's most effective political machine -- one that
brought more than 4 million new Christian voters to the
polls last November, sending George W. Bush back to the
White House and thirty-two new pro-lifers to Congress. But
despite their unprecedented power, fundamentalists still see
themselves as a persecuted minority, waging a holy war
against the godless forces of secularism. To rouse
themselves, they kick off the festivities with "Soldiers of
the Cross, Arise," the bloodthirstiest tune in all of
Christendom: "Seize your armor, gird it on/Now the battle
will be won/Soon, your enemies all slain/Crowns of glory you
shall gain."

Meet the Dominionists -- biblical literalists who believe
God has called them to take over the U.S. government. As the
far-right wing of the evangelical movement, Dominionists are
pressing an agenda that makes Newt Gingrich's Contract With
America look like the Communist Manifesto. They want to
rewrite schoolbooks to reflect a Christian version of
American history, pack the nation's courts with judges who
follow Old Testament law, post the Ten Commandments in every
courthouse and make it a felony for gay men to have sex and
women to have abortions. In Florida, when the courts ordered
Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed, it was the
Dominionists who organized round-the-clock protests and
issued a fiery call for Gov. Jeb Bush to defy the law and
take Schiavo into state custody. Their ultimate goal is to
plant the seeds of a "faith-based" government that will
endure far longer than Bush's presidency -- all the way
until Jesus comes back.

"Most people hear them talk about a 'Christian nation' and
think, 'Well, that sounds like a good, moral thing,' says
the Rev. Mel White, who ghostwrote Jerry Falwell's
autobiography before breaking with the evangelical movement.
"What they don't know -- what even most conservative
Christians who voted for Bush don't know -- is that
'Christian nation' means something else entirely to these
Dominionist leaders. This movement is no more about
following the example of Christ than Bush's Clean Water Act
is about clean water."

The godfather of the Dominionists is D. James Kennedy, the
most influential evangelical you've never heard of. A former
Arthur Murray dance instructor, he launched his Florida
ministry in 1959, when most evangelicals still followed
Billy Graham's gospel of nonpartisan soul-saving. Kennedy
built Coral Ridge Ministries into a $37-million-a-year
empire, with a TV-and-radio audience of 3 million, by
preaching that it was time to save America -- not soul by
soul but election by election. After helping found the Moral
Majority in 1979, Kennedy became a five-star general in the
Christian army. Bush sought his blessing before running for
president -- and continues to consult top Dominionists on
matters of federal policy.

"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the
cost," Kennedy says. "As the vice regents of God, we are to
exercise godly dominion and influence over our
neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature
and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our
news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every
aspect and institution of human society."

At Reclaiming America, most of the conference is taken up by
grassroots training sessions that supply ministers, retirees
and devout churchgoers with "The Facts of Stem-Cell
Research" or "Practical Steps to Impact Your Community with
America's Historical Judeo-Christian Heritage." "We're going
to turn you into an army of one," Gary Cass, executive
director of Reclaiming America, promises activists at one
workshop held in Evangalism Explosion Hall. The Dominionists
also attend speeches by supporters like Rep. Katherine
Harris of Florida, who urges them to "win back America for
God." In their spare time, conference-goers buy books about
a God-devised health program called the Maker's Diet or meet
with a financial adviser who offers a "biblically sound
investment plan."

To implement their sweeping agenda, the Dominionists are
working to remake the federal courts in God's image. In
their view, the Founding Fathers never intended to erect a
barrier between politics and religion. "The First Amendment
does not say there should be a separation of church and
state," declares Alan Sears, president and CEO of the
Alliance Defense Fund, a team of 750 attorneys trained by
the Dominionists to fight abortion and gay marriage. Sears
argues that the constitutional guarantee against
state-sponsored religion is actually designed to "shield"
the church from federal interference -- allowing Christians
to take their rightful place at the head of the government.
"We have a right, indeed an obligation, to govern," says
David Limbaugh, brother of Rush and author of Persecution:
How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity. Nothing
gets the Dominionists to their feet faster than ringing
condemnations of judicial tyranny. "Activist judges have
systematically deconstructed the Constitution," roars Rick
Scarborough, author of Mixing Church and State. "A God-free
society is their goal!"

Activist judges, of course, are precisely what the
Dominionists want. Their model is Roy Moore, the former
Alabama chief justice who installed a 5,300-pound granite
memorial to the Ten Commandments, complete with an open
Bible carved in its top, in the state judicial building. At
Reclaiming America, Roy's Rock sits out front, fresh off a
tour of twenty-one states, perched on the flag-festooned
flatbed of a diesel truck, a potent symbol of the
"faith-based" justice the Dominionists are bent on imposing.
Activists at the conference pose for photographs beside the
rock and have circulated a petition urging President Bush to
appoint Moore -- who once penned an opinion calling for the
state to execute "practicing homosexuals" -- to the U.S.
Supreme Court.

"The other side knows we've got strongholds in the executive
and legislative branches," Cass tells the troops. "If we
start winning the judiciary, their power base is going to be

To pack the courts with fundamentalists like Moore,
Dominionist leaders are planning a massive media blitz.
They're also pressuring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist --
an ally who's courting support for his presidential bid --
to halt the long-standing use of filibusters to hold up
judicial nominations. An anti-filibuster petition
circulating at the conference blasts Democrats for their
"outrageous stonewalling of appointments" -- even though
Congress has approved more nominees of Bush than of any
president since Jimmy Carter.

It helps that Dominionists have a direct line to the White
House: The Rev. Richard Land, top lobbyist for the
16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, enjoys a
weekly conference call with top Bush advisers including Karl
Rove. "We've got the Holy Spirit's wind at our backs!" Land
declares in an arm-waving, red-faced speech. He takes
particular aim at the threat posed by John Lennon,
denouncing "Imagine" as a "secular anthem" that envisions a
future of "clone plantations, child sacrifice, legalized
polygamy and hard-core porn."

The Dominionists are also stepping up efforts to turn public
schools into forums for evangelism. In a landmark case, the
Alliance Defense Fund is suing a California school district
that threatened to dismiss a born-again teacher who was
evangelizing fifth-graders. In the conference's opening
ceremony, the Dominionists recite an oath they dream of
hearing in every classroom: "I pledge allegiance to the
Christian flag, and to the Savior for whose kingdom it
stands. One Savior, crucified, risen and coming again, with
life and liberty for all who believe."

Cass urges conference-goers to stack school boards with
Dominionists. "The most humble Christian is more qualified
for office than the best-educated pagan," says Cass, an
anti-abortion activist who led a takeover of his school
district's board in San Diego. "We built quite a little
grass-roots machine out there. Now it's my burden to
multiply that success all across America."

Cass points to the Rev. Gary Beeler, a Baptist minister from
Tennessee who got permission for thousands of students to
skip class and attend weeklong events that he calls
"old-time revivals, with preaching and singing and
soul-saving and the whole nine yards." Now, with support
from Kennedy, Beeler is selling his house and buying a
mobile home to spread his crusade nationwide. "It's not
exactly what I planned to do with my retirement," he says.
"But it's what God told me to do."

Cass also presents another small-town activist, Kevin McCoy,
with a Salt and Light Award for leading a successful
campaign to shut down an anti-bullying program in West
Virginia schools. McCoy, a soft-spoken, prematurely gray
postal worker, fought to end the program because it taught
tolerance for gay people -- and thus, in his view,
constituted a "thinly disguised effort to promote the
homosexual agenda." "What America needs," Cass tells the
faithful, "is more Kevin McCoys."

While the dominionists rely on grass-roots activists to
fight their battles, they are backed by some of America's
richest entrepreneurs. Amway founder Rich DeVos, a Kennedy
ally who's the leading Republican contender for governor of
Michigan, has tossed more than $5 million into the
collection plate. Jean Case, wife of former AOL chief Steve
Case -- whose fortune was made largely on sex-chat rooms --
has donated $8 million. And Tom Monaghan, founder of
Domino's Pizza, is a major source of cash for Focus on the
Family, a megaministry working with Kennedy to eliminate all
public schools.

The one-two punch of militant activists and big money has
helped make the Dominionists a force in Washington, where a
growing number of congressmen owe their elections to the
machine. Kennedy has also created the Center for Christian
Statesmanship, which trains elected officials to "more
effectively share their faith in the public arena." Speaking
to the group, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay -- a winner of
Kennedy's Distinguished Christian Statesman Award -- called
Bush's faith-based initiatives "a great opportunity to bring
God back into the public institutions of our country."

The most vivid proof of the Christianizing of Capitol Hill
comes at the final session of Reclaiming America. Rep.
Walter Jones, a lanky congressman from North Carolina, gives
a fire-and-brimstone speech that would have gotten him
laughed out of Washington thirty years ago. In today's
climate, however, he's got a chance of passing his pet
project, the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act,
which would permit ministers to endorse political candidates
from their pulpits, effectively converting their tax-exempt
churches into Republican campaign headquarters.

"America is under assault!" Jones thunders as his aides dash
around the sanctuary snapping PR photos. "Everyone in
America has the right to speak freely, except for those
standing in the pulpits of our churches!" The amen chorus
reaches a fever pitch. Hands fly heavenward. It's one thing
to hear such words from Dominionist leaders -- but to this
crowd, there's nothing more thrilling than getting the
gospel from a U.S. congressman. "You cannot have a strong
nation that does not follow God," Jones preaches, working up
to a climactic, passionate plea for a biblical republic.
"God, please -- God, please -- God, please -- save America!"



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