The “Christian Exodus” has begun, albeit slowly, with a handful of families moving to South Carolina in hopes of leading thousands of other evangelicals to relocate and establish what founders envision as a “constitutionally limited government founded upon Christian principles.”
A nationwide movement started in 2003 by Californian Cory Burnell, Christian Exodus claims that Christians have tried unsuccessfully for 30 years to return America to the moral foundation intended by the nation’s founders.
Despite having a professed Christian as president and attorney general and a Republican-controlled Congress and Supreme Court, they say, abortion continues, gay marriage is legal, prayer and Bible reading are banned and evolution taught in public schools, the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in public and the day will soon come when Christianity is branded as “hate speech.”
The solution, according to ChristianExodus.org, is to “try a strategy not yet employed by Bible-believing Christians.”
“Rather than spend resources in continued efforts to redirect the entire nation, we will redeem states one at a time,” the Web site proclaims. “Millions of Christian conservatives are geographically spread out and diluted at the national level. Therefore, we must concentrate our numbers in a geographical region with a sovereign government we can control through the electoral process.”
If necessary, the group’s founders say they are willing to secede from the union in order to reacquire their constitutional rights. But the initial plan of action calls for concentrating Christian voters to first win local elections and to impact statewide races by 2014.
According to the Greenville News, some of the first to move their families to upstate South Carolina consider themselves conservative Republicans and others Libertarians, while many openly support the Constitution Party, a body that calls for the entire country to be governed by biblical and strict constitutional principles.
Tony Romo, bivocational pastor of the independent South Pointe Baptist Church in Pelzer, S.C., is listed as a main contact for Christian Exodus.
Romo, who owns a surveying company and studied at Bob Jones University and through Liberty University’s distance-learning program, told The State newspaper in Columbia he became a supporter of Christian Exodus in 2004 after meeting Burnell at a meeting that also featured Michael Peroutka, who was the Constitution Party candidate for president in the 2004 election.
“Our church had already decided to support the Constitution Party, and we thought Christian Exodus sounded like a great idea and would go hand-in-hand with what we believe and preach,” Romo said.
Romo hosts weekly classes for Institute on the Constitution, a Maryland-based educational program “intended to reconnect Americans to the history of the American Republic and to their heritage of freedom under law.”
“Today, many Americans are surprised but delighted to learn that we were founded as a Constitutional Republic of Sovereign States with a central government of purposely limited powers based on Biblical principles,” says the group’s Web site. “The recovery and application of these principles is necessary for the reclamation of the Republic.”
Many conservative Christians remain dubious of the movement, because of its secessionist leanings and links to third-party politics, which they view as operating on the political fringes.
“I consider myself a conservative Republican and Southern Baptist, and some of their opinions are to the right of me,” Bob Taylor, dean of science and liberal arts at Bob Jones University and a member of Greenville County Council, told The State.
Burnell, 29, a businessman with previous ties to the Texas with League of the South, the largest secessionist group in the country, said he no longer belongs to the group.
Since founding Christian Exodus, Burnell says his main goal has been to bring back limited government based on Judeo-Christian principles.
“Christian Exodus doesn’t seek to institute a theocracy, but we do want a return of our religious liberties that were once so preciously guarded in America,” Burnell said.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.