by Lorette C. Luzajic
Part 10 of the Pillars of Faith series
Though he worked with, prayed with, praised, and preached the message of Reconstructionists, Dr. D. James Kennedy insisted he was not “guilty by association.” Call it what you want: the man was devoted to all aspects of reconstructing Old Testament law and merging church and state, and he was militant in his campaigns to abolish different or un-believers from court and public policy.
On the surface, the founder of mega-media-empire Coral Ridge Ministries was a devout preacher and a passionate, skilled leader, with no sex scandals to distract from the message of hope. But some detected something more sinister underpinning the ra-ra-God schtick many of us tuned out. Rolling Stone called him the godfather of Dominionism, guilty by his own acts, not by association. Ethics prof John Swomley believes he was a man to be feared, whose vast ministry wealth and skillful military manipulation strategies pressured politics to his sway. He called it “clerical fascism.”
And fascism was a word used again by veteran war journalist and Christian Chris Hedges, who features Kennedy as a main player in his book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. Hedges refers to Kennedy’s ministry techniques as brainwashing, calling the preacher’s Evangelism Explosion program “love bombing” — a famous cult recruit technique. He compares EE to advanced Russian and Chinese communist tactics.
Hedges went through the military-style program, taught by Kennedy himself, and observed that this means of spreading the gospel was “totalitarian” and “deceptive.” He was taught to use psychological manipulations and scare tactics, and to pinpoint vulnerabilities and prey on them. He reported that “recruits” were not left alone after salvation, but began a process of losing autonomy and outside ties to the new church family.
The War of the Word
Kennedy died two years ago, but he left an army of carefully trained soldiers to intercept reason at all levels of the social stratosphere- church, home, school, and state. He was a busy man — there’s The Coral Ridge Hour televangelism show, the daily Truths That Transform radio, both syndicated globally. There’s the Coral Ridge megachurch in Florida — population ten grand. He wrote countless books on the popular but absurd idea that the founding fathers/constitution were fundamentalism Christian props.
One Man One Woman
Pullquote: Kennedy likened homosex to “polygamy, bestiality, and child marriage,” perhaps forgetting that two of the three were Old Testament staples.
No big surprise that a pet cause is spreading anti-gay, Christian “liberty” propaganda. Kennedy likened homosex to “polygamy, bestiality, and child marriage,” perhaps forgetting that two of the three were Old Testament staples. He spread similar hate vitriol about how sex with children is a “crucial component of the homosexual movement.” He was outspoken in favour of the right to discriminate against employing gays. But he was silent about whether or not it was okay to employ other kinds of sinners, such as those with more hetero-style lusts, or those who work on Sundays.
But nothing compares to the absurdity of this new earth creationist’s scare tactics against science. Kennedy spread some interesting gospel — that belief in evolution is what caused the holocaust. Conveniently forgetting that anti-Semitism predated Darwin by 1800 years, and that it was a rather Christian institution, he made a film called Darwin’s Deadly Legacy.
That Hitler was a “Christian” and that the church was in part behind him was not part of the film. But the film did falsely feature theist genome scientist Frances Collins as a creationist, which was a fraud the evolutionary scientist tried to undo. Kennedy’s “no-Darwin, no Hitler” philosophy also neglects the vast amount of genocide stuffing the pages of the Good Book, 32 centuries before Darwin was born.
Was Darwin responsible, too, for the terrorism of the right wing against women and gays? Kennedy dutifully stood for male headship and female submission as declared by God personally. And what’s a man to do with his leadership role? He answered in the Christian Science Monitor: “As the vice-regents of God, we are to bring His truth and His … dominion … over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government… our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors – in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”
Lorette C. Luzajic writes about all kinds of interesting people at Fascinating People.