Christian Reconstructionism, Gays, and Stoning

Christian Reconstructionism, Gays, and Stoning March 27, 2012

I recently read a New York Times piece about the vigilante killing of gays in Iraq.

For at least six years, gays have been bullied and harassed by security forces and beaten and killed by reactionary Islamist militias in Shiite areas of Baghdad.

Ali Hili, a gay Iraqi activist who lives in London, said as many as 750 gay Iraqis have been killed in the past six years, and thousands have emigrated or are living deep in the closet.

“It’s a clear war on sexual minorities on Iraq,” he said. “They are refusing to admit it.”

Fear has rippled across socially liberal niches of Baghdad, from the basement-level clothing shops where teenage boys buy skull pendants and skater gear, to upscale hair salons and theaters. Advocates say some emo youths and gay men have left for northern Iraq, while others  have shorn off hairdos or muted outfits that were once badges of identity.

As I responded to the story with shock, reading in horror about dozens of young gay men found in recent weeks with their skulls bashed in, I suddenly realized something. This – this and worse – is the world the leaders of the Christian Patriarchy movement want to return us to. Literally. 

Rousas Rushdoony essentially founded modern Christian Reconstructionism with his 1973 Institutes of Biblical Law. Rushdoony argued openly for making the United States into a literal Christian theocracy; as part of that, the Old Testament laws with regards to stoning would be followed. As one article reported, in Rushdoony’s world:

Those who would face execution include not only gays but a very long list of others: blasphemers, heretics, apostate Christians, people who cursed or struck their parents, females guilty of “unchastity before marriage,” “incorrigible” juvenile delinquents, adulterers, and (probably) telephone psychics.

Reconstructionists generally suggest stoning as a means of execution. Rushdoony’s son-in-law Gary North explains the reasoning for this as follows:

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.

Now of course, as this quotation points out, the vast, vast majority of even conservative Christians would not favor a return to stoning gay people and others who transgress Old Testament law. Even HSLDA founder Michael Farris has denounced Christian Reconstructionism’s theocratic ideal. Not so, though, for Doug Phillips, who spoke at Rushdoony’s funeral, founded leading Christian Patriarchy organization Vision Forum and whose father, Howard Phillips, has run for president on the Constitution Party ticked numerous times and became a Christian Reconstructionist in the 1990s.

While Vision Forum doesn’t flaunt its association with Christian Reconstructionism – probably because it doesn’t want to lose its potential audience – the organization sells Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law and regularly publishes columns by Christian Reconstructionists.

But not to worry! Doug Wilson, another Christian Patriarchy leader, wants to assure everyone that he is not in favor of executing gays!

Gay men and lesbians, Wilson says, are “sodomites,” “people with foul sexual habits.” But the biblical punishment for homosexuality is not necessarily death, Wilson says in trying to distance himself from Reconstruction. Exile is another possibility.

Christian Reconstructionism is a fringe movement, but it is a fringe movement that has put its fingers in politics and in the homeschool movement. I’m not actually concerned that this nation will ever turn to publicly executing gays by stoning, but I am increasingly horrified by the teachings of the Christian Patriarchy leaders I used to have so much respect for.

I used to read every issue of Wilson’s Credenda Agenda avidly, and to pour over Vision Forum’s catalogs circling books I was interested in. I did not know at the time that these leaders advocated stoning gay people, and if I had, I’m not sure how I would have reacted. I might very well have rationalized it with a “well, if it’s what the Bible says, it must be right,” or I might have rejected the idea and simply stuck with denying LGBTQ individuals equal rights, which is the tact the mainstream Christian Right is taking today.

I think the horror I feel when I read about Christian Reconstructionists advocating the stoning of gay people stems from the fact that I have gay friends. And not just one or two. I just counted up my LGBTQ friends and close acquaintances: five gay men, two bisexual women, and one trangender woman. When I imagine these dear friends of mine being publicly stoned or (at best!) exiled from the country of their birth, I find myself filled with rage.

While I am filled with anger when I read about gay men being murdered or forced into hiding in Iraq or other countries in the Middle East, I am also angered by the fact that there is a radical fringe in American society that would like to make such murders official policy in my own country, and to take the lives of my own dear friends. This is one reason I am so passionate about what I write about here on this blog. One article put it like this:

Bill Gothard, Howard Phillips, and Doug Phillips are all Christian Reconstructionists, and we believe they are manipulating the minds of homeschooling families, who are often isolated and impressionable.  We fear that some of these ideas are being promoted within the homeschooling community, and that’s why the Quiverfull Movement will be instrumental in carrying out their agenda.  These dominionists are working to get like-minded individuals elected so they can begin to put their own form of government in place.

These Christian Reconstructionists are definitely a fringe group; however, they seem to believe that their plan is according to God’s will.  All we can do on this blog is to educate our readers about these wackos and pray that their ridiculous plan will be thwarted.  If Christian Reconstructionists are trying to create an army of followers, then promoting the Quiverfull Movement would be an excellent way to do it!

Further, while Christian Reconstructionists are a fringe group, our society nonetheless still harbors a lot of homophobia and opposition to LGBTQ rights. And it’s more than just gay marriage they oppose. In many places across the country LGBTQ individuals can legally be fired from their jobs because of their sexual identity, and I have friends who have worried about their job security because of that. Furthermore, businesses and housing agencies are also allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals in many parts of the country. Furthermore, we frequently hear of suicides of LGBTQ youth due to rampant bullying, and LGBTQ individuals, especially those who are transgender, still have to fear for their lives in some parts of the country.

We may not be seeing wholescale murders of LGBTQ individuals, but we definitely still have a long way to go.

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