The Bizarre Libertarian/Christian Reconstructionist Alliance

Ron Paul has just announced a new K-12 curriculum for homeschooled students—The Ron Paul Curriculum. It is comprehensive—history, economics, math, science, literature, Bible—and focuses on the “biblical principle” of self responsibility and the history of liberty. It advertises itself as incredibly academically rigorous—such that a student who makes it through will test out of the first two years of college.

All of this honestly sounds like standard fare for these circles—not unlike a more comprehensive repackaging of Douglas Wilson’s Omnibus curriculum. But here’s the weird part. The Ron Paul Curriculum’s director of curriculum development is Gary North. This Gary North:

“When people curse their parents, it unquestionably is a capital crime. The integrity of the family must be maintained by the threat of death.”

Gary North is a Christian Reconstructionist who is on record endorsing the stoning of children who curse their parents, LGBTQ individuals, adulterers, fornicators, women who have had abortions or encouraged or assisted in abortions, and blasphemers. Yes, death by stoning. Public stoning, actually. Back to North:

“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. …  That modern Christians never consider the possibility of the reintroduction of stoning for capital crimes indicates how thoroughly humanistic concepts of punishment have influenced the thinking of Christians.”

It actually wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Gary North is today’s leading Christian Reconstructionist—and he’s also the son-in-law of the founder of Christian Reconstructionism, the late Rousas Rushdoony. Christian Reconstructionists seek to institute Old Testament Law, today, in the United States. Rushdoony is on record saying that “The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state … Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.”

One of North’s seminal books, an introduction to Christian Reconstructionism, is called “Unconditional Surrender.” Here are some excerpts:

The law of God is still morally binding. It is therefore still judicially binding.

How, then, can anyone calling himself a Christian be satisfied with anything less than the reign of Old Testament law in the civil government? Would he choose to live under Pharaoh? Would he choose to live under Belshazzar? Why, then, do so many Christians say that there’s no such thing as biblical law for today’s civil governments? Why do they choose to live under the control of something other than God’s civil law? Why do they continue to choose Egypt and Babylon as their homes? How long will they continue to argue that any law-order can be accepted by Christians, no matter where or when they live, except one law-order, namely, the law-order ordained by God for His people and delivered by Moses and the prophets? How long will they continue to defend the legitimacy of Egypt and Babylon and continue to deny the legitimacy of Jerusalem? How long will they allow themselves to be deceived by Satan’s myth of neutral laws, neutral judges, and neutral civil governments’?

And if we continue to argue that there are no such standards, that the Old Testament isn’t binding on us anymore, and that we are prohibited from exercising godly rule in terms of the Old Testament, then we have placed ourselves, in principle, under the dominion of Satan and his pagan kingdoms.

Though one generation can abandon the dominion assignment, not all of them can. Eventually, a generation of Christians becomes convinced that their God is sovereign, that God’s law is valid, and that God’s people are victors, in time and on earth. When these opinions spread across a nation, or a group within a nation, the blessings begin anew. The people cease wandering in the self-imposed wilderness. They turn back to God, His law, and His dominion assignment. They begin anew the extension of God’s kingdom, in time and on earth.

And then there’s also this quote by North:

“The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel.”

Here’s what’s confusing me. Isn’t libertarianism—and Ron Paul is without argument the most prominent libertarian out there today—supposed to be about freedom from government intrusion? And if that is the case, why in the world did Ron Paul bring on Gary North—a man who wants to impose Old Testament Law on the United States, enshrining it in the nation’s civil law and stoning everyone from gays to rebellious children to adulterers—as the director of curriculum development for his new homeschool curriculum, a curriculum that bears his very name? I’m having a hard time reconciling the libertarian ideals of freedom from government interference, legal marijuana, etc., with a Christian theocracy based on the Old Testament legal code. Something extremely strange is going on here.

And for that matter, how in the world was Christian Reconstructionism’s founder, Rousas Rushdoony, able to say in the very same interview where he endorsed the stoning of LGBTQ individuals and adulterers, “I’m close to being a libertarian,” and say it completely ironically?

I didn’t grow up in a Christian Reconstructionist home. I grew up in a home that was economically libertarian but socially a part of the Christian Right—meaning that we wanted to ban abortion and only allow traditional marriage and enact new restrictions on divorce, but we would have been aghast at the idea of stoning anyone or reimposing Old Testament Law wholesale. (Unlike North, we believed that after Jesus, this law no longer applied, because he had fulfilled it.) Honestly, what I grew up with seems to be the standard line walked by evangelicals of the Christian Right.

But this leaves me puzzled. I understand how people combine Christian social conservatism with libertarian positions on economics, but I do not understand this combination of pure libertarianism with pure Old Testament law. This is entirely contradictory. You can’t idolize liberty and believe in freedom from government intrusion and also believe that the civil government should be stoning anyone who breaks Levitical Law. It just doesn’t work that way! But apparently, when it comes to The Ron Paul Curriculum, it does.

So, note to libertarians who totally think this Gary North guy is crazy and totally are all about “freedom” and “liberty”: I may not agree with your politics (largely because this country is neither a meritocracy nor a level playing field), but your movement appears to be being hijacked. You might want to do something about that.

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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.