Peroutka was even less guarded about his Confederate sympathies in a 2004 speech to a League of the South event in Montgomery, Alabama, which the group posted online in 2012. At the time, Peroutka was running for president on the Constitution Party ticket, a spot that Moore had been offered but passed up.
In the speech, Peroutka tried to appeal to the neo-Confederate group by reminding them that his home state of Maryland “was below the Mason-Dixon line." Referring to the 1861 arrest of pro-Confederate members of the Maryland legislature, he added, "And we would have seceded if they hadn’t locked up 51 members of our legislature. And by the way, I’m still angry about that."
Peroutka went on to boast to the group that his children were carrying on his views, his daughter by refusing to play “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in her school band and his son by referring to the Confederate battle flag as “the American flag.”
As we reported earlier today, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has close personal and financial ties with Michael Peroutka, the neo-Confederate activist and theocrat who has helped develop the view, espoused by Moore in recent interviews and statements, that states must defy federal court rulings in favor of marriage equality since they are in violation of divine law.
Warren Throckmorton notes, just today announced that on April 14 it will host a celebration of the anniversary of the “execution of the tyrant Abraham Lincoln.”
League of the South President Michael Hill writes in a blog post titled “Honoring John Wilkes Booth” that the organization “thanks Mr. Booth for his service to the South and to humanity”:
The League of the South looks to the present and future. However, from time to time we do look back at our past.
This 14th of April will mark the 150th anniversary of John Wilkes Booth’s execution of the tyrant Abraham Lincoln. The League will, in some form or fashion, celebrate this event. We remember Booth’s diary entry: “Our country owed all her troubles to him, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment.” A century and a half after the fact, The League of the South thanks Mr. Booth for his service to the South and to humanity.
Stay tuned . . .
It might be a good time to harken back to the League of the South’s 2012 convention, when Peroutka asked participants to stand for the “national anthem”… and then started singing “Dixie”:
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore threw his state into turmoil this week when he ordered probate judges to defy a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Moore, who has a history of making extreme anti-gay statements, insists that the federal judge is the one who is really breaking the law since she violateddivinelaw by ruling for marriage equality.
Moore’s call for statewide defiance of the federal judiciary’s “tyranny” stems from a belief that the Constitution was made to protect biblical commandments, so that anything that goes against his personal interpretation of the Bible is therefore in violation of the Constitution.
Moore shares that belief with a powerful ally: Michael Peroutka, a neo-Confederate activist who is also one of the most influential behind-the-scenes figures in the Religious Right’s reimagining of American law.
Peroutka, who once held a leadership position in the neo-Confederate League of the South and remained a member of the group until it hampered his run for a local office in Maryland last year, promotes this theocratic view of the law through his group the Institute on the Constitution. Speaking at an event at the Institute in 2011, Moore gushed that Peroutka would help lead America to a “glorious triumph” over the federal government’s “tyranny.”
After Moore was removed from his original position on Alabama’s high court in 2003 for defying a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building, Peroutka paid for the ousted judge to go on a national speaking tour to build support for his cause. He also funded a group that held rallies in support of Moore.
Over nine years, Peroutka contributed over a quarter of a million dollars to two groups founded by Moore, the Foundation for Moral Law (which is now run by Moore’s wife Kayla) and the now-defunct Coalition to Restore America.
In 2004, the far-right Constitution Party tried to recruit Moore to run for president on its ticket. When he declined, Peroutka stepped in to run in his place.
This neo-Confederate leader helped to lay the ideological groundwork for Moore’s current standoff with the federal courts, a standoff which many commentators have compared to Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s decision to defy federal law on desegregation.
Peroutka said last year that such rulings would “coerce” state officials to “declare that which is sinful and immoral” to be “valid and right,” even forcing them to “participate in it.” Such “evil” decisions, according to Peroutka, must be “resisted at every level of government, even the lower levels of government, most especially the lower levels of government,” since local governments are the true “protectors against those who would force these things on us tyrannically from above.”
For example, after a federal judge struck down Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage last year, Peroutka insisted that Sen. Rand Paul move to impeach the judge who made the decision, defund the court, and press for his state to defy the ruling: “He should use every influence he has in Kentucky to have people not obey this; the Kentucky legislature, the Kentucky courts, should not obey this, this is not lawful.”
Peroutka also believes that local officials should defy their state legislatures on issues like marriage equality. After Maryland’s general assembly voted in 2012 to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, Peroutka declared that the assembly’s decision to “violate God’s laws” effectively invalidated its legal authority, since any law that contradicts divine law does “not constitute a law – even if it were enacted and signed.”
Using an argument similar to the one Moore is now making in Alabama, Peroutka said that lower-level officials could ignore not only the marriage equality law but any law passed by the state’s general assembly, since it had invalidated itself by breaking biblical decrees: “Is it possible that those who are sworn to uphold the law, such as police and sheriffs and judges and prosecutors, may soon come to the conclusion that the enactments of this body should be ignored because they are based not in law, but in lawlessness?”
In Peroutka’s view, anything that breaks the “organic law,” or biblical law, is automatically unconstitutional.
Peroutka believes that America needs to “go back to what God called marriage, not what the state has perverted the definition to be, but what God called marriage.” Since biblical law doesn’t permit same-sex marriage in his view, then civil law can’t either: “There is no way we are ever going to validate homo- or sodomite-‘unmarriage’ because God defined marriage as between a man and a woman once and forever.”
“I always go back to these two standards: What does God say and what does the Constitution say?” Peroutka explained in 2013.
He added that the United States will have a small, limited government as long as it adheres to biblical standards. But he believes that the Union’s victory in the Civil War — or as he calls it, “The War Between the States” — enabled the federal government to greatly expand its powers, thus undermining the authority of biblical law and leading to such evils as same-sex marriage.
“Ever since then, there’s been this huge black hole of centralized power that’s formed in Washington, D.C.” he said. “People sometimes talk about ‘The War Between the States’ as being about the issue of slavery. I believe that history is written by the winners, it wasn’t about that at all. What it was about was consolidating power into the hands of a few people.”
“[T]he real effect of the war and the Reconstruction after the war was to take the very foundation of our understanding of our rights away from us, that is to say that they come from God, and put them in the hands of men and say that they come from the Supreme Court or they come from the legislature or they come from the executive,” he added.
The end of the Civil War, Peroutka claims, produced an “evil anti-God, anti-Christian revolution” that led to a “tyrannical consolidation of power” in Washington, D.C., undermining the “biblical worldview that acknowledges Christ’s authority over all things.”
Peroutka also contends that the gay rights movement isn’t just “federalizing homosexuality” but “federalizing perversion,” even claiming that the federal government violated the Constitution by imposing civil rights laws on the states.
“[T]he so-called civil rights laws are not law,” he said in 2013. “They never should’ve been passed. They’re not law now, they weren’t law then. They aren’t law now because there is no such thing as a civil right.”
Since Peroutka believes “rights come from God” and not civil government, he argues that all civil rights laws are illegitimate since “the term ‘civil rights’ is kind of an oxymoron. There’s no ‘right’ in the sense of a permanent, fixed, thing that you have, that can be defended, if in fact it comes from the civil government.”
Now Moore is once again putting Peroutka’s words into action, threatening state judges who lawfully issue a marriage licenses to a same-sex couples. Because in the eyes of Moore and Peroutka, their personal reading of the Bible takes precedence over the law of the land.
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on the efforts of a group of church-state separation activists, led by Todd Stiefel, who are trying to remove long-forgotten articles in seven state constitutions that require people holding public office to believe in God.
This did not sit well with Jake McAuley, the chief operating officer of Michael Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution, who writes in BarbWire today that it is “impossible” for an elected official who doesn’t believe in God to fulfill his or her duties. “This isn’t about discrimination or bigotry,” he writes. “ It’s about ensuring that those holding office in America are committed to the true, lawful, American philosophy of government.”
Peroutka, who was recently elected to a county office in Maryland, has declared all laws passed by his state legislature null and void because the body violated "God's law" by legalizing gay marriage.
Now, let’s be clear. Mr. Steifel may not believe that there is a God. And no one is forcing him to do so.
But if he doesn’t believe that God exists, it follows that he doesn’t believe that God-given rights exist either.
And if he doesn’t believe that God-given rights exist, then how would you expect him, if elected, to defend and protect those rights?
You see, when someone is elected to office he swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the God-given rights that are secured thereby. To elect someone who does not believe that God exists, is to ask them to do that which is impossible for them to do.
The drafters of our state constitutions understood this simple logic and so they included these provisions designed to protect us from officeholders who do not share the American philosophy of law and government.
Think of it this way.
Suppose instead of not believing in God, Mr. Stiefel informs us that he does not believe that there exists a city called Cincinnati, Ohio.
By not believing in Cincinnati, Mr. Stiefel breaks no law that we can punish him for.
But now suppose that a few of us have decided to take a bus trip to visit Cincinnati. We advertise for a driver for the bus and Mr. Stiefel answers our advertisement.
Is Mr. Stiefel qualified to drive us to Cincinnati?
Do you see the problem? Once he started the bus, what would Mr. Stiefel do next? How would he get us to a place the existence of which he denies?
Of course he is not qualified. He not only doesn’t know the way. He doesn’t even believe that there is a way. He is not qualified to take us to a place that, in his own mind, does not exist.
So this constitutional requirement that an office holder must believe in God is a logical and consistent protection against those who might drive our constitutional republic in a bad direction.
Although Peroutka has yet to take office, he’s already giving a taste of what it will mean to implement his radical views at a local level. In an interview with Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace on Tuesday, Peroutka urged state and county governments to simply ignore any White House order deferring the deportation of some undocumented immigrants, and instead work independently to “incarcerate” or “deport” immigrants covered by the order.
Deace asked Peroutka what he, as a newly minted GOP elected official, would do about the “Marxist in the White House” who is “supposed to be protecting us from invasion, and here he is implementing one.”
“This action on the part of the president is the action of somebody who hates America and is seeking to destroy America,” Peroutka responded. “I don’t think it can be interpreted any other way. It certainly is an act of treason because it’s aiding and abetting the enemies of America and giving them comfort and aid.”
Peroutka urged Republicans in Congress to move to impeach the president, and added that governors and county executives throughout the country “should resist this in every way they can.”
He advised that local governments tell the president: “We’re not abiding by it, we are still going to either incarcerate or seek to remove and deport those who are here illegally. We’re not going to follow suit and give them aid and comfort like he wants us to do, even though he’s bribing us with money to do it.”
“We as local authorities and as state authorities should resist this scheme,” Peroutka said. “If we did, then it couldn’t go through.”
Earlier this year, Peroutka declared that all laws passed by the Maryland General Assembly were invalid because that body had violated “God’s law” in implementing marriage equality.
The robocall, purportedly from a group called “Marylanders for Transgenders” asked recipients to call Peroutka’s openly gay opponent, Patrick Armstrong, and thank him for “coming out of the closet” and for supporting an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination bill that the robocall says allows “transgenders” to “openly and freely go into any bathroom of their choice based on their confused gender identity.”
In reporting this news, we and other outlets used the term “neo-Confederate” to describe Peroutka’s ideology, including his apparent support for Southern secession. In an interview on the anti-government radio show Liberty Roundtable shortly after the election, host Sam Bushman asked Peroutka about these reports, to which he responded that he doesn’t even know what “neo-Confederate” means.
“It’s interesting how they create these terms and we don’t even know what they mean,” Bushman said. “Look, a Confederate, if you want to talk about ‘southern pride’ so to speak, or whatever, would be that you’re against the federal government and the violation of states’ rights, if you understand kind of the idea behind it. But a neo-Confederate? That would be kind of like you’re a fake Confederate or a wannabe Confederate.”
“If anything, I want to be just a true Confederate,” Peroutka replied.
He added that it is just a “code word” that’s “meant to stir up hatred against us.” Groups like Right Wing Watch, Peroutka added, think “Michael Peroutka’s a threat because he believes what Jefferson and Adams and Washington believed.”
Earlier in the program, Peroutka credited God for his county council victory and agreed with Bushman’s hope that God would allow him to change the minds of his fellow council members who were educated to be “socialists” by “government schools.”
Remarkably for someone who has just become an elected official in Maryland, Peroutka argues that since state legislators have passed laws like marriage equality that “violate God’s law,” the Maryland General Assembly is “no longer a valid legislative body” and none of the laws that it has passed are “legally valid and legally enforceable.”
Peroutka argued last year that the reason the U.S. is not following God’s law on marriage and other issues is because when the Union won the Civil War – in his words “The War Between the States” – people began looking to government rather than God as the foundation of their rights. When local media began focusing on Peroutka’s connections to the racist, secessionist League of the South – he served on its board and was a featured speaker at its June 2013 conference on “Southern Independence: Antidote to Tyranny” – he resigned, feigning surprise at racist material on the group’s website, though even then he told reporters, “I don’t have any problem with the organization.”
Anne Arundel County Maryland, one of the wealthiest counties in the country, is home to the state capital of Annapolis.
Deace declared that nondiscrimination laws like the one in Houston and transgender nondiscrimination laws being considered throughout the country are ultimately meant to “silence the church” and elevate government to the level of God.
Lawmakers, Deace argued, are “using sexual perversity and immorality as the means to silence the church so that there is no institution capable of challenging the supremacy of the state.”
Peroutka — who is also a GOP candidate for a county office in Maryland — agreed, saying “If you believe that you are God, as government has proved over and over again that it believes it is…you don’t want there to be another God, you don’t want anybody to have an allegiance to the one true and living God, the God of the Bible whose son is Jesus Christ, because if that exists it is the enemy of your own idolatry.”
Christian-nation advocate, former Constitution Party presidential candidate, and creationist benefactor Michael Peroutka has left the neo-Confederate group League of the South after making the surprising discovery that its members hold racist views on interracial marriage.
The Baltimore Sun reports that while Peroutka says he had quibbles with statements from fellow League of the South members regarding interracial marriage, he still doesn’t “have any problem with the organization.”
Michael Anthony Peroutka, a Anne Arundel County Council candidate who gained attention for his membership in a Southern secessionist group, said this week he's no longer a member of the League of the South.
Peroutka, a Millersville Republican, said he left the group prior to Labor Day because he discovered statements members made on the subject of being opposed to interracial marriage were “contrary to my beliefs." He would not elaborate.
Though his League of the South membership drew criticism during the campaign — "Everybody wants to talk about League of the South all the time," he said — the decision to quit the group was not politically motivated, Peroutka said.
“I didn’t do it to bring up any political points,” Peroutka said. “I don’t have any problem with the organization.”
Peroutka said he still stands by the groups stances on self-government and conserving southern heritage.
“Is this about sinful people want to engage in their sin, or is this about making a statement that you will go along with the sin?” Peroutka asked about the LGBT rights movement.
Deace responded by repeating his theory that LGBT people are simply seeking “validation” from the government because they can’t get it from God, adding: “We have two moral vices that have a powerful political lobby in America. One is sexually driven and the other one’s driven on covetousness, that’s the welfare state and victimology.”
“It seems to me that the reason that it’s got to be validated, perversion has to be validated, because recruitment is necessary,” Peroutka added. “This deathstyle — I don’t call it a lifestyle — this deathstyle does not reproduce, it needs to recruit, so it’s got to recruit your children.”
Earlier in the interview, Deace said that governors should just ignore court rulings that they disagree with — such as marriage equality and legalized abortion —saying that if he were governor he would have shut down every abortion clinic in the state “and arrested every employee for killing, every single one of them.”
“The Nazis, everything they did was technically legal too,” he said.
The Institute on the Constitution’s Michael Peroutka — who is currently the GOP nominee for a seat on the county council in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — made his weekly appearance on “The Steve Deace Show” on Tuesday, where he somehow managed to blame President Obama for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
He appeared to hold Obama responsible for a plank in Iraq’s Constitution, adopted in 2005, which reads that “Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation.”
“We have somebody who calls himself president, chief executive, who says that we’re no longer a Christian country," he said, referring to remarks Obama made in 2006. "Well, think about that, if we’re no longer a Christian country and we see under Sharia law, we actually fight for Sharia law in Iraq — because for the Iraqis to adopt their constitution, which we shed our blood for, their constitution is based on Sharia law. Here we have Americans dying so that we can create and support and uphold some other form and understanding of law and government."
Peroutka wondered why someone who doesn't adhere to Christian nationalism would be upset about beheadings committed by ISIS.
“If we’re no longer a Christian nation, then why would we be upset about beheadings?” he asked. “Beheadings are all right in that other law form. We have become our own enemy by jettisoning principles on which our country was built.”
Discussing ISIS with guest host Rebecca Maxwell earlier in the interview, Peroutka seemed relatively unconcerned, suggesting that Obama was a greater threat to the country.
“Saddam Hussein, for example, he never tried to rob me of my right to property or to self-defense,” Peroutka said. “But Barack Hussein Obama does that almost constantly, when he’s not playing golf. So, my point is, the threats to American liberty and American life and our way of life, I really don’t think are foreign. I think they’re domestic.”
For Republicans who would like to “rebrand” the party to reach more voters, Michael Peroutka is a nightmare. Peroutka won the Republican primary for a county council seat in Anne Arundel County, which includes Maryland’s state capital. As we have been reporting, Peroutka is a Christian Reconstructionist who believes “It is not the role of civil government to house, feed, clothe, educate or give heath care to…ANYBODY!” He is an ardent supporter of the white nationalist League of the South, which promotes the secession of southern states, and whose leader recently wrote about “Fourth Generation Warfare” in which citizen hit squads would target “political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don't run."
Last week, Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee for governor, disavowed Peroutka over his extremist positions. Yesterday, Peroutka held a press conference in which he repeatedly claimed he is not a racist, vowed that he would not play the “race card game,” and produced two African American Republicans, Eric Knowles and Robert Broadus, to vouch for his not-racism.
But if the press conference was meant to dispel the notion that Peroutka is an extremist, it failed miserably. Peroutka repeatedly refused to disavow the League of the South, on whose board he has sat. He would not say it was a mistake to have called Dixie the national anthem at a League of the South convention. And he refused, in spite of repeated questions, to disavow the idea that the southern states should secede. In response to the suggestion that the Civil War settled the question of secession, he said “No moral issue is really ever settled by the point of a sword.” He repeatedly stated that secession is “a historical fact” and “a political reality.” The American Revolution was an act of secession, he said. And it is a kind of secession when people move out of Maryland to escape its high taxes.
“Anyone, including those who identify with the ‘Tea Party’, who loves America and desires real reform, would do well to disengage themselves from the Republican Party and their brand of worthless, Godless, unprincipled conservatism.”
“I don’t disagree with Dr. Hill at all that this regime is beyond reform,” he told the crowd, referring to League of the South president Michael Hill. But he told group members he was concerned that what he calls the "biblical view" of government should “survive the secession.”
“I don’t want people from League of the South to think for one minute that I’m about reforming the current regime, or studying the Constitution is about reforming the current regime,” he said. “I, like many of you, and like Patrick Henry, probably have come to the conclusion that we smelled a rat from the beginning.”
He then asked the crowd to “stand for the national anthem”…and led the crowd in a spirited rendition of “Dixie.”
Late last week, the Republican candidate for county executive in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where Peroutka is running for office, asked Peroutka to resign from the League of the South because his membership “could be considered racist.”
The candidate, Steve Schuh, however, reported from his conversation with Peroutka: “He has assured me that he is not a racist and that he believes in the equality of all members of the human family. He has further assured me that he does not believe in secession of any portion of our country.”
We’ve clipped a couple pieces of Peroutka’s League of the South speech here, but you can find the whole thing, which was recorded by an attendee, in Throckmorton’s post.
In keeping with the group’s apparent mission to be so extreme that it will never attract any mainstream support, Deace invited Michael Peroutka, a regular guest on his radio show, to give an opening speech to Personhood Iowa activists.
Peroutka — who recently declared that the Maryland General Assembly is no longer a valid legislative body because its passage of marriage equality violated “God’s law” — told the Iowa activists that everything from seat-belt mandates to the progressive income tax to Obamacare to Roe v. Wade are not valid laws because government only has the authority to uphold what he deems to be “organic law.” In fact, he said, all of these things are “pretended legislation,” a term used in the Declaration of Independence to refer to acts of Parliament governing the American colonies.
Peroutka also presented the audience with a contrast between what he sees as the “biblical worldview,” which he says is based on the idea of literal biblical creationism, and the “pagan worldview,” which he says is based on the theory of evolution.
The theory of evolution, he claimed, was responsible for the Columbine school shooting and the Holocaust, yet is still being taught through “the tragedy of public education.”
Hill went even further in his July 15 post, however, describing a scenario in which armed citizens wage “Fourth Generation Warfare” – guerilla warfare – against political and cultural elites who support “tyranny.” Hutson summarizes Hill this way:
…on July 15, Hill wrote an essay for the League's website titled "A Bazooka in Every Pot," in which he outlines a program of "guerrilla war," marked by "three-to-five-man" death squads which would target government leaders, journalists, and other public figures for assassination, in order to advance the League's goals.
"To oversimplify," writes Hill, "the primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don't run."
There’s a reason so many Republican politicians seem to bring a religious fervor to their efforts to gut public institutions and social welfare spending. The modern day Religious Right draws much of its ideology from Christian Reconstructionists who teach that God gave specific duties to the government, the church, and the family.
According to this theological worldview, education and taking care of the poor are the responsibility of families and churches, and it is unbiblical for the government to take on these roles. That meshes well with the view of “constitutional conservatives” who believe, for example, the Constitution does not authorize any federal government role in education.
A stark example of the increasingly indistinct line between conservative Republicans and hard-core Christian Reconstructionists and dominionists (who believe the right kind of Christians are meant to have dominion over every aspect of society) can be found in the recent Republican primary victory of Michael Petrouka in a race for a county council seat in an Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Peroutka believes that any law that runs counter to God’s law is invalid, and that the Maryland General Assembly is itself no longer a valid legislative body. Here’s a concise summation of his approach to government:
Since civil government is ordained by God in order to protect God-given rights, then the function of civil government is to obey God and to enforce God’s law – PERIOD.
It is not the role of civil government to house, feed, clothe, educate or give heath care to…ANYBODY!
This religion-inflected ideological view of government is not relegated to inhabitants of the far-right fringe like Peroutka. David Barton, an influential Republican activist and “historian” who helped write the GOP’s national platform in 2012, claims that the Constitution was drawn directly from the Bible and the sermons of colonial preachers, and that its focus on individual freedom reflects the founders’ theology of individual salvation. In this view, the Tea Party’s belief in a radically limited federal government is not only a question of constitutional interpretation, it is a mandate of Holy Scripture.
Just this month, Barton promoted these views on “Praise the Lord,” the flagship program of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which bills itself as the world’s largest religious network and America’s most-watched faith channel. “In the Bible, Jesus has a teaching about minimum wage,” Barton said. “In the Bible, Jesus has two teachings on capital gains tax.” The Bible, according to Barton, opposes those taxes as well as estate taxes and progressive income taxes. A flat tax is “what the Bible supports.”
On the same show Barton denounced government spending on welfare. “It’s not the government’s responsibility to take care of the poor and needy,” he said, “it’s the church’s responsibility.”
According to Barton, there are 205 verses in the Bible that instruct the family or church to take care of the poor, but not the government. “The government is told to do only one thing with taking care of the poor and that one thing is to make sure that when the poor come into court they get justice. That’s the only thing government is told….What we’re doing right now is for the first time in America we have ignored what the Bible says, the Bible says you don’t work, you don’t eat.” He went on to say that people “not having to work and getting free money…violates everything the Bible tells us” about dealing with the poor.
It is wrong, Beisner writes, to try to mitigate inequality “through force of government.” Why? “Because God ordained the state to dispense justice, and the church to dispense grace.” According to Beisner, giving someone “unearned” benefits is grace, not justice. People should graciously serve the poor, he writes. “But if care for the needy is made a matter of justice to the needy rather than to God, then grace becomes law. Then, the needy—and those who merely profess to be needy—may claim the benefits of grace as their due by justice.”
In other words, government has no right to tax someone in order to help feed someone else.
That is a widely shared belief on the Religious Right. Speakers at Religious Right conferences like Reed’s June event, and Republican Members of Congress, can be heard justifying cuts in food stamps with an appeal to the Bible passage that David Barton quoted on TBN. That verse, depending on your translation, says something like “he who will not work shall not eat.”
Reps. Kevin Cramer and Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee cited that verse last year. Fincher said, “The role of citizens, of Christianity, of humanity, is to take care of each other, not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.” In equating taxation for social services with theft, Fincher echoes Barton, Beisner, and others. (In context, by the way, the work-to-eat verse referred to early Christians who were so confident of the imminent return of Christ that they quit doing anything.)
Poor people turning to the government, Beisner writes in his anti-social-justice booklet, results in “the stultifying effects of wealth redistribution by the coercive power of the state.” Even worse, he says, “it blinds [poor people] to their deepest need: the grace of God offered in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
We’ve been reporting on the candidacy of Michael Peroutka, the 2004 presidential nominee for the U.S. Constitution Party and now the apparent GOP nominee for a county council seat in Anne Arundel, Maryland. It is frankly hard to imagine a more extremist candidate for public office.
Like Peroutka, Lofton has expressed contempt for the Republican Party, calling himself a “Recovering Republican,” and explaining on his website, “Being a Republican is not a disease; it is a choice – a very bad choice, but a choice nonetheless.”
Lofton was a movement conservative until he became enamored of Christian Reconstructionist R.J. Rushdoony and disillusioned that the conservative movement was not sufficiently focused on God. A few years ago he denounced the conservative movement, saying that “Dunghill Rejects” was the “perfect name” for “for the Godless, anti-Christian, modern ‘conservative movement.’”
Lofton has been invited to speak about God and Government at Liberty University’s Helms School of Government. He said the purpose of the Institute on the Constitution’s God and Government project – which encourages individuals to use public comment periods at local government meetings to deliver packaged two-minute statements – is “to tell our elected officials that government is from God and therefore their first duty is to obey God and to administer and apply his law.”
And in reference to an article about evangelicals disagreeing on budget priorities, he wrote that “there should be no disagreement among those who believe the Bible is true. Because it is crystal clear that in God's Word He gives NO AUTHORITY to civil government (Caesar) to give health, education or welfare to ANYBODY. If people need help, it is the role of the Church --- God's people --- to provide this help and NOT government.” He insists, “Man-made ‘laws’ that contradict God's Law are not law.”
Lofton’s Facebook page indicates that he shares Peroutka’s contempt for many contemporary political figures. He writes that President Obama “heads up the most powerful terrorist organization in the world, the American government.”
This week Lofton dismissed as “IDOLATROUS LINCOLN-WORSHIPPING CRAP” an article in which the Religious Right’s intellectual godfather, Robert George, wrote that Lincoln had, by saving the union, “completed, in a sense, America’s founding.”
On the 4th of July Lofton bragged that his local paper had printed his letter to the editor, which denounced the Laurel, Maryland, City Council for allowing a Hindu to open a meeting “by invoking false Gods,” which he called “an act of appalling idolatrous idiocy which invites God – the God of the Bible, the only true God there is – to curse us.”
Back in 2002, Lofton was interviewed by Stephen Colbert for The Daily Show. He denounced Lynn Cheney’s children’s book as “child abuse” for including Martin Luther King and a reference to the Day of the Dead holiday, which he said is “from the pit of hell.”