Quoting Rushdoony Just Seems Like a Really Bad Idea

Not surprisingly, Kelly Reins Ladies against Feminism has put up a collection of links on gay marriage. They’ve called their link list “Cranial Dominionism: Defining What We Think about . . . Defending Biblical Marriage.” In it they offer links and quotes from such standard evangelical luminaries as John Piper and Ken Ham. Most of it is standard fare, repeating the evangelical line on homosexuality and marriage equality, as is to be expected. But I also noticed something . . . odd. Kelly quotes from Rousas Rushdoony, and links to an audio sermon of his.

By linking to Rushdoony, Kelly shoots herself—and her standard evangelical arguments—in the foot and undoes much of the effort being made by the others she quotes from. If I had been Kelly, I seriously seriously would have left Rushdoony out of this.

Slavery and Segregation

When it comes to race issues, Kelly had a good thing going here. Her second to last link is from Voddie Baucham, black pastor and close associate of Vision Forum, attempting in his “Gay Is Not the New Black” to explain why people can’t draw a comparison between prohibiting gay marriage and prohibiting interracial marriage—after all, God has prohibited gay marriage, but there is nothing in the Bible against interracial marriage. This is a good move on Kelly’s part, as the comparison between bans on same-sex marriage and bans on interracial marriage is highly emotive. I don’t agree with Baucham’s arguments, but then, it’s a good PR move on Kelly’s part to link to a black pastor arguing against the comparison. She should have left it there. But for some reason, she couldn’t. She had to immediately follow Baucham with Rushdoony.

Here’s the problem with that: Rushdoony was against interracial marriage and in favor of both segregation and racial slavery. In fact, Rushdoony not only argued that interracial marriage—which he called “unequal yoking”—should be banned based on the Bible but also defended racial slavery by saying that that southern slavery was “generally benevolent” and that “some people are by nature slaves.” He also intoned against “enforced integration,” going so far as to contend that the early church was segregated. So I’m really not sure Kelly wants to be quoting Rushdoony right after quoting Baucham.

Stone the Gays

But there’s another, bigger problem. Evangelicals have been trying for some time now to argue that they really don’t hate gay people. “Hate the sin, love the sinner” and all that. That’s the standard line made by most of those Kelly quotes and links to here. But then she quotes from . . . Rushdoony. She probably thinks it’s harmless, as it’s simply a quote in which he talks about homosexuality as a sign of cultural rebellion. But the problem is that the centerpiece of Rushdoony’s work was his argument that Old Testament law needed to be reinstated as civil law in the United States. There’s no way that Kelly doesn’t know this—there’s no way Kelly doesn’t know that Rushdoony argued that LGBTQ individuals should be put to death. I could give you links to lots of articles discussing Rushdoony’s contention that gay people should be stoned, but I think I’ll let you hear it for yourself. Here is from an interview with Rushdoony in 1988 (transcript to follow):

YouTube Preview Image

Here is the relevant transcript:

Moyers: You’ve written that the Bible calls for the death penalty, and I’m just running down a variety of things as you can see. You’ve written that the Bible calls for the death penalty of some 15 crimes: rape, sodomy, adultery.

Rushdoony: Adultery because in the Bible the basic institution is the family. There’s no law of treason against the state. The Bible doesn’t even imagine anything remotely like that. But the basic institution is the family. And so, several of the death penalties are associated with the family and its life.

Moyers: So adultery was considered a theft of the family.

Rushdoony: It was, yes, it was treason to the family.

Moyers: Homosexuality.

Rushdoony: Yes, it was treason to the family.

Moyers: Worthy of the death sentence?

Rushdoony: What?

Moyers: Worthy of the death sentence?.

Rushdoony: Yes.

Moyers: Deserving of the death sentence?

Rushdoony: Yes, that’s what Paul says.

Moyers: But you would re-instate the death penalty for some of these or all of these Biblical crimes?

Rushdoony: I wouldn’t—

Moyers: But the reconstructive society—

Rushdoony: I’m saying that this is what God requires. I’m not saying that everything in the Bible, I like. Some of it rubs me the wrong way. But I’m simply saying, this is what God requires. This is what God says is justice. Therefore, I don’t feel I have a choice.

Moyers: And the agents of God would carry out the laws.

Rushdoony: The civil government would, on these things.

Moyers: So you would have a civil government, based upon—

Rushdoony: Oh yes. I’m not an anarchist. I’m close to being a libertarian. But—

Moyers: But the civil law would be based on the biblical law. And so you’d have a civil government carrying out a religious mandate.

Rushdoony: Oh yes.

Rushdoony’s son-in-law, Gary North, has famously argued that these death penalties—which would be visited on everyone from adulterers to homosexuals to rebellious children—should be carried out by public stoning:

“Why stoning? There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost. . . . Executions are community projects—not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do `his’ duty, but rather with actual participants.”

Look, if evangelicals want to pretend they’re all nice and caring and you “love the sinner but hate the sin,” fine. As long as they still work to deny LGBTQ couples the right to marry or adopt children and continue to oppose legislation to protect these individuals from discrimination, I’m not going to take you completely seriously on this one. But if they’re going to do that, they have got to stop quoting from the likes of Rushdoony. Rushdoony didn’t talk about loving gays. He talked about killing gays. Bad move, Kelly. Bad move.


If you want to learn more on Rushdoony, and on his impact on Christian Right leaders like Tim an Beverly LaHaye, evangelical intellectuals like Francis Schaeffer, and Christian Patriarchy leaders like Doug Phillips, I recommend: 

A Nation under God

Invitation to a Stoning

The Libertarian Theocrats

A Reconstructionist and Racist Bigot

On Orgies, Bisexuality, James Dobson, and Evangelicals
On Indiana
Red Town, Blue Town
The Cold, Unforgiving World of Geoffrey Botkin
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • ako

    Given the tendency in fundamentalist circles to redefine “love” as “treat a person in a harsh and controlling way in order to make them behave in the way you think is best”, it’s only a matter of time until someone jumps in all “No, we’re talking about lovingly pummeling you with rocks until you die! Because the fear of being brutally killed by your community might make you not have gay sex!” or something equally inane.

    • http://beccasteablog.wordpress.com Becca

      They already say this. Then they add that the stoning may cause deathbed repentance, even at the last second, and that’s why the death penalty must be implemented.

      Source: I was raised in a Reconstructionist church that looked up to Rushdooney as the foremost theologian.

  • http://amethystmarie.com/ Amethyst

    I continue to wonder why fundamentalist Christians are so frightened of sharia law.

    • Ken L.

      And yet they are likely fierce supporters of Israel, which recognizes Sharia Law as binding for Muslims and has govt paid Sharia Judges.

      [Source: http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/05/08/israel-has-sharia-law/

    • Niemand

      Because they wouldn’t be in charge under Sharia law.

    • Nea

      Niemand beat me to it. It’s not the actual *law* that’s the problem, it’s that someone else gets to judge.

  • Hilary

    Can I hold this guy up as an ‘Exibit A’ of fundamentalist Christians being more hard core Old Testiment literalists then most Jews? We haven’t stoned people to death in a very, very long time – hundreds of years, at least. Ki Sarita probably knows more but I’m looking into the descisions to not implimant this violent scripture literally.

    This is what I hate about fundamentalist Christians using the Old Testament to justify their own need for violence and control. I don’t know how you can pull it apart – did they have this need to violently control people already then found the justification they wanted (which they would have found somewhere else or made up if they didn’t read the OT). Or did they read those parts of the OT, without considering historical contesxt, without checking how other people either Jewish or Christian have nullified or interpreted around them, and let that speak to them to impose their violence? I don’t know if the two sides of that coin can even be seperated.


    • Alix

      “did they have this need to violently control people already then found the justification they wanted”

      Personal observations suggest this. I’ve known, unfortunately, a number of not-so-nice, authoritarian people who converted to fundamentalist Baptist, and they kept right on being not-so-nice and authoritarian, but with the added argument of “but this is from God, not me.” I have also known one person who went from fundamentalist authoritarian asshole to atheist – and he’s still just as much of an authoritarian asshole, he just justifies things with evo-psych bullshit instead of the Bible.

  • ScottInOH

    Can I hold this guy up as an ‘Exibit A’ of fundamentalist Christians being more hard core Old Testiment literalists then most Jews?

    Yes. (As if you needed permission from me!)

    I don’t know how you can pull it apart

    I think the reason one can’t is because they (religious teachings and internalized beliefs) feed into each other. I say this as someone who was raised in a Christian household that taught love and self-sacrifice and who may also have some natural empathy (who can say what’s nature and what’s nurture in an individual?). In that environment, I read and heard Christianity as calling for love and self-sacrifice (conservatives invented “tough love” to get people like me on their side, and it was sometimes successful), which usually deepened my commitment to that path, which led me to read more of that into the Bible, and so on. On the whole, I think that was a virtuous circle, where Rushdoony’s is vicious, but the pattern is the same.

    • ScottInOH

      Oops. Meant to embed that as a reply to Hilary.

      Total aside: Libby Anne, I just noticed that the Patheos powers that be have misspelled the name of your blog in the links in the right-hand bar of all the atheist blogs here. I’m sure it wasn’t your doing, but I figured you’d know how to get it fixed!

      • phantomreader42

        I noticed that too. The strange thing is, that’s the ONLY place it’s misspelled. The name in that link doesn’t match the other instances, which are spelled correctly.

  • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

    That Gary North quote freaks me right out. It’s like if someone read the “particicution” scene in Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and instead of being horrified, repulsed, and appalled, like any normal reader in an affluent developed country,* sat up attentively and said, “Hey, what a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that?”

    Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.

    Rushdoony is also revolting. There’s just something about that passage, the way he’s cheerfully talking about how stoning people to death is not just cheap, but builds community, too! … OMG no. Just NO. NONONO.

    *I specify this because, obviously, there are still places in the world where violence, and specifically societally-sanctioned violence against women, is a lot more of an everyday thing than it is for the average North American reader of Atwood.

  • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

    That Gary North quote freaks me right out. It’s like if someone read the “particicution” scene in Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and instead of being horrified, repulsed, and appalled, like any normal reader in an affluent developed country,* sat up attentively and said, “Hey, what a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that?”

    Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.

    Rushdoony is also revolting. There’s just something about that passage, the way North is cheerfully talking about how stoning people to death is not just cheap, but builds community, too! … OMG no. Just NO. NONONO.

    *I specify this because, obviously, there are still places in the world where violence, and specifically societally-sanctioned violence against women, is a lot more of an everyday thing than it is for the average North American reader of Atwood.

    • Alix

      I was trying to find a way to articulate the horror I felt at reading those quotes, only to find that you’ve said it perfectly.

      I’ve seen that interview before, and I’ve read that quote from North before. They never fail to freak me the fuck out. They also make me very, very grateful that my mother never ended up more than mildly fundamentalist, and that she has no problem with actually loving and accepting her pagan, genderqueer daughter.

      I agree with dominionists like North and Rushdoony on one thing: there is real evil in this world. I just think quotes like these make it patently obvious where the evil really lies. I have no problem with stating that I am very happy Rushdoony is dead, and that I only wish his vileness had died with him. He’s like a malevolent ghost that just. won’t. go. away.

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

      Or Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.”

      • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

        Yah, that too. Or The Hunger Games.

        Notice that these are all DYSTOPIAN fantasies.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia Lucreza Borgia

        Hah…I was posting that and then saw you did already.

  • smrnda

    Note how Rushdoony basically says “Even if I don’t like it, I have to obey the orders.” That’s fascism, pure and simple, and the ‘I had to follow orders’ is just a way to pretend that you aren’t really brutalizing people because you want to. Otherwise, you’d have to fess up that you were just a bloodthirsty, nasty person who just went cruising for an ideology that provided easy rationalizations.

    And how is it libertarian to have the state killing people for being gay or committing adultery? That seems lik a pretty big intrusion of the government into private affairs. O, I forget. Libertarianism (at least to this guy) is about property rights and no taxes and no government welfare, not civil liberties.

  • UrsulaL

    Given the frequent warnings against marrying foreigners and arranging marriages for your children with foreigners in the Old Testament, I”m not sure that you can fairly say that the Bible doesn’t warn against interracial marriage, given how being an Israelite was defined by blood rather than choice.

    • Anat

      Foreigners can stop being foreigners by conversion. And then there is the story about Miriam criticizing Moses for taking a Kushite wife – she was stricken with leprosy for that, IIRC.

      • Karen

        Miriam’s leprosy makes one point, but the story of Phineas killing the Isrealite who was found with a Midianite woman contradicts the lesson of tolerance. The Phinehas story is particularly bad since Jethro of Midian was Moses father-in-law. There is also the book of Ruth, written about King David’s great-grandmother who was from Moab, contrasted with the book of Ezra, which lauds the banishment of all foreign wives. The Old Testament is not consistent on this point.

      • Anat

        The Midianite women retained their religion though. The Bible is against interfaith marriage, but not against interracial marriage.

  • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

    Dear Disqus,

    Why won’t you let me delete duplicate comments? Come on, how hard could it be?



  • Jurgan

    “Rushdoony: Oh yes. I’m not an anarchist. I’m close to being a libertarian.”

    Say what? I don’t think you know what that word means. Here’s a hint: Libertarians don’t typically advocate for theocracy.

  • L

    whats scary is, this guys lecture were most of my highschool history/government credit. (homeschool of course). and at the time, only a little of what he said rubbed me wrong. mostly i basked in the wisdom and was relieved i wasn’t getting taught all the lies that normal highschoolers were, that they’d either have to relearn or they’d never even realize they were brainwashed…

    Guess who is going to put herself through some history and government courses, after she finishes reading a book about art history and another on the basics of philosophy? this woman!
    Or it might also come after basic biology/evolution. my science was christian, too. I’m almost 25, for my birthday i will be buying myself books to teach myself things i missed in my fundamentalist education. with the exception of a couple subjects my first couple years as a homeschooler in junior high, and two classes i took with groups, I used the (very conservative christian) books my mom chose (and occasionally chose my own books and designed my own curriculum) and taught myself everything i learned. I even graded my own math and science most of the time. (and for me, it all worked out pretty well. 34 on the ACTs – 36 is the highest score.) so I think i’m up to the challenge!

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      You might want to check out the Crash Course and Minute Physics channels on Youtube. The Crash Course stuff is ~10 min videos about, oh, a ton of subjects. One of the guys is a history teacher and the other is a scientist (I believe chemist but I’m not sure). They’re a great place to start catching up on a great many topics. The current series(es?) they’re working on are “US History” and “Chemistry”.

      Minute Physics is a bit more advanced, but they’re short (1-2 min) videos about random physics things. They’re designed to explain complicated things to laypeople with almost no knowledge of physics. There’s also Minute Earth by the same people that just started.

      My 2c about where to start repairing your education, anyways. Good luck!

    • ArachneS

      You are one after my own heart! I am going back to college as soon as we have our credit cards payed off, and my plan is to explore the history courses, science courses and math courses that I wasn’t exposed to for years!
      To be honest, I want to find a career perhaps in writing or sociology, but maybe I am good at math and science and I just haven’t gotten into it to know? I never had any direction on that kind of thing. The expectation was to get married and stay at home and I can’t do that indefinitely. I have so little knowledge on what to major in, what kinds of jobs I can find it it, and where to go…

      • L

        you should try math out! i hated it in school, my math curriculum was repetive, boring, and just miserable. Saxon. i know no one who liked saxon. EVERYONE i know hated it. but in college, i loved it. it’s just logic, with numbers instead of words, and therefore more predictable :D … girls are frequently not expected to like math, or science, and i think that it’s partly self fulfilling predictions that so few females are in those fields. Good luck on the college plans. someday i might go back (i have an associate degree), but i get panic attacks when i think about it, so i’m not ready yet. still i have always LOVED to learn. now i’m hungry to know all the things i didn’t get any/enough of in junior high and highschool

    • Nea

      Khan Academy online is an excellent place to start for free education; he’s known for his math tutorials but he’s branching out into liberal arts as well, and there aren’t just the tutorials but quizzes and “classes.” I also recommend the in-depth lecture classes of The Great Courses – not cheap to buy, but check your local library. Lots of history there, from deep stuff (the religious wars in Europe) to lighter fare (History of Broadway Musicals). They also do mathmatics classes, although to tell the truth I can’t tell you what they’re like because those I don’t do for fun while commuting!

  • Nicola

    “Executions are community projects”? I can’t get over how completely, viscerally ill that statement makes me.

  • http://republic-of-gilead.blogspot.com Ahab

    The dominionist Rushdoony quote was VERY revealing. Even though members of the Religious Right claim to love LGBTQ people, their true intentions aren’t hard to ferret out.

  • Connor

    FOR GAYS ONLY: Jesus predicted that just before His return as Judge, there will be a strange, spontaneous, mind-twisting fad – a global steamroller notable for its speed, boldness, violence, and impudent in-your-face openness. In Luke 17 He called this worldwide craze the repeat of the “days of Lot” (see Genesis 19 for details). By helping to fulfill this worldwide mania quietly coordinated by unseen spirit beings, gays are actually hurrying up Christ’s return to earth and making the Bible even more believable!
    They’ve actually invented strange architecture: closets opening not on to bedrooms but on to Main Streets where kids can see naked men having sex in “Madam” Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco Brothel District. We wonder how soon S.F.’s underground saint – San Andreas – will get a 10-point jolt out of what goes on over his head (see the dire prediction about cities in Revelation 16:19)!
    What’s really scary is the “reprobate mind” phrase in Romans 1:28. A person can sear his conscience so much God turns him over to S, the universal leader of evil who can turn such a person into Mr. Possessed with a super-human strength that many cops together have trouble restraining.
    Remember, gays don’t have to stay bound to their slavery. Their emancipation is found in a 5-letter name starting with J – no, not James or Julia. As soon as they can find out the all-powerful J name, gays will really start living!

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      You’ve posted this exact same thing before, word for word. Shoo. Go away. We all know the claims you make are both bizarre and not true. Come back when you actually want to engage people, not just troll us.