To understand the nature of the secret war against the New Age movement, you have to understand the dark and shadowy world of the Christian extreme Right. You've probably heard about movements like the Dominionists and the Christian Reconstructionists. The former are mainly concerned with creating a Fundamentalist New World Order, with their particular strain of Evangelical Protestantism established as the One World Religion.
The latter are even more frightening- a group that advocates the overthrow of the government replaced with a totalitarian theocracy, based on Old Testament principles. The various subgroups of the Religious Right- Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Dominionist, Reconstructionist- all come together in the extremely secretive Council for National Policy, which is made up of clergy, politicians, bankers, industrialists and other heavy hitters.
We'll explore the roots of the religious right in the future, but the modern movement as we know it today emerged at the beginning of the Cold War, when a fiery preacher known as Billy Graham hit the scene. Graham brought the fervor and enthusiasm of backwoods Protestantism, and was very closely tied into right wing politics. He also had an extremely powerful patron:
Politics and media thrust the young evangelist from North Carolina on the national scene at the dawn of the 1950s. In a Los Angeles revival that included the conversion of Hollywood stars, Graham was surprised by a crowd of reporters and photographers one night shortly before the service. When Graham asked what caused the fuss, a reporter said, "You have just been kissed by William Randolph Hearst. Look here." The wire machine message from the boss was "Puff Graham."Graham arrived at an interesting time. The desegregation of the armed forces and a growing civil rights movement was sending shock waves through America, particularly the American South. The extreme Right saw this as the work of Jewish Communists (and their godless Yankee co-conspirators), which was a hot button topic in the wake of the Rosenberg atom spy scandal.
Within days, the crusade was being given extensive coverage by Hearst's chain of papers, major national magazines, and wire services. The reasons for Hearst's interest remains a mystery of Graham legend since the evangelist never personally met his benefactor. Most accounts assume Graham's patriotic sermons appealed to the anti-Communist Hearst as well as the evangelist's appeal to youth.Whatever the reason, Billy Graham soon moved from a tent evangelist to a national figure.
America was largely at peace, and the old mainline denominations- as well as the Catholic church- seemed to serve the majority's needs. But the newly formed World Council of Churches was having a radicalizing effect on these stolidly conservative churches, introducing a host of liberal/left reforms most parishioners didn't ask for. The old European traditions and hymns seemed out of step during the 60s uprisings, and liberal theologians began to question the basic tenets of the religion itself.
The civil rights movement and the resulting racial violence in cities like Detroit - along with the Vietnam miasma and the Aquarian counterculture - emboldened the Far Right, and groups like the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan grew in strength.
It was in this ferment that the modern Conspiracy Underground was born (None Dare Call it Conspiracy was a major hit in the late 60s) and a new Religious Right would emerge, both centered in the American South, which was booming as Yankee firms were moving south looking for cheaper labor. Richard Nixon would take the White House on the strength of the backlash against civil rights and the counterculture.
Christian Reconstructionism - which was explicitly anti-constitutional- was bridging the gap between the religious and conspiracy wings of the new Far Right. One of the leading lights of the new confederation was RJ Rushdoony:
Reconstructionist leaders seem to have two consistent characteristics: a background in conservative Presbyterianism, and connections to the John Birch Society (JBS).Rushdoony delineated the connection between Fundamentalism and Conspiracy Theory- arguing that the latter is the direct progeny of the former:
In 1973, R. J. Rushdoony compared the structure of the JBS to the "early church." He wrote in Institutes: "The key to the John Birch Society's effectiveness has been a plan of operation which has a strong resemblance to the early church; have meetings, local `lay' leaders, area supervisors or `bishops.'"
The JBS connection does not stop there. Most leading Reconstructionists have either been JBS members or have close ties to the organization. Reconstructionist literature can be found in JBS-affiliated American Opinion bookstores.
Indeed, the conspiracist views of Reconstructionist writers (focusing on the United Nations and the Council on Foreign Relations, among others) are consistent with those of the John Birch Society.... In fact, former JBS chairman Larry McDonald may himself have been a Reconstructionist.
"The view of history as conspiracy...is a basic aspect of the perspective of orthodox Christianity.So now we know where all of this anti-New Age venom is really coming from. But it doesn't end there. So compelling is the conspiracy meme that Rushdoony and his well-connected confederates felt compelled to create their own Illuminati:
A conspiratorial view of history is a consistent ingredient of Christian Right ideology in the United States, and is often used to explain the failure of conservative Christian denominations with millennial ambitions to achieve or sustain political power.
The blame for this is most often assigned to the Masons, particularly an 18th-century Masonic group called the Illuminati, and, ultimately, to Satan."
Rushdoony was one of the first members of the secretive Council for National Policy, which the Rev. Tim LaHaye and others started to bring right-wing Christians, other conservative activists, and John Birchers together with wealthy patrons willing to fund them.Rushdoony wanted to destroy democracy- he despised it and repeatedly denigrated it.
There are a lot of others connected with creationism and the fundamentalist movement who are believed to have been members of the CNP...Howard Ahmanson, John Ashcroft, Jerry Falwell, George Gilder, Ted Haggard, Nelson Bunker Hunt, Trent Lott, Oliver North, Pat Robertson , Richard Mellon Scaife, Kenneth Starr, John Templeton.
"The significance of Jesus Christ as the "faithful and true witness" is that He not only witnesses against those who are at war against God, but He also executes them."Another prominent Reconstructionist is Gary North, well-known for his role in perpetuating Y2K Hysteria. North explicitly argues that Reconstruction is itself a conspiracy, using American freedom to usurp the Constitution and the Republic itself:
"One faith, one law and one standard of justice did not mean democracy. The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state . . . Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies."
"Christianity is completely and radically anti-democratic; it is committed to spiritual aristocracy."
"The state is a bankrupt institution. The only alternative to this bankrupt 'humanistic' system is a God-centered government."
So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government.In the new world order that the Reconstructionist Conspiracists want to create, there are 15 capital crimes: apostasy, astrology, bestiality, blasphemy, heresy, homosexuality (men only), idolatry, incorrigibility, incest, rape, sabbath-breaking, sex before marriage (women only), striking a parent, and witchcraft and fortune-telling.
Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.
—"The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right", The Failure of the American Baptist Culture
TO BE CONTINUED