Religions – especially the monotheistic religions – create moral binaries of good and evil. When the understanding of church and state is presented in the context of a battle between God and Satan with America as the prize, there is hardly room for compromise or accommodation.
The passion and urgency with which Pat Robertson, James Kennedy and others have pressed their agenda for a Christian America is consistent with their theological worldview.
Framing the views of the founders as visionaries dedicated to a Christian America becomes an invaluable asset in the struggle to implement their understanding of God’s will.
Although the visibility of the Christian Coalition faded significantly after the mid-1990s, followers of Robertson’s vision for America didn’t go quietly into the night.
On the contrary, more than 150 graduates from Robertson’s Regent University Law School were hired by the Justice Department during the first six years of President George W. Bush’s administration.
The stunning figures came to light in 2007 when Congress investigated the scandalous political firing of numerous U.S. attorneys. Monica Goodling, a top aide to then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was at the center of the storm.
A 1999 graduate of Regent Law School with very little prosecutorial experience, Goodling had evaluated the performance of many seasoned U.S. attorneys who were relieved of their duties.
Patrick Henry College was another school with highly disproportionate representation in Bush’s executive branch. The fundamentalist Christian college concentrates on preparing home-schooled students to change the world.
In 2004, the college’s website revealed that seven of 100 White House interns had come from the school, which had a total of 250 students. Several more of its students worked for top officials in the White House.
As Nancy Ammerman points out, Reconstructionists are not merely waiting for a dramatic change. American Christians convinced that the world’s most powerful nation should be guided by biblical imperatives are actively at work – sometimes visibly and sometimes quietly – within the governmental bureaucracy.
A particularly powerful and highly influential group known as “The Fellowship” or “The Family” emerged from the shadows in 2008 with publication of Jeff Sharlet’s best-selling book “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.”
The Family comprises a group of men committed to following Jesus and changing the world through cultivating friendships and influence with powerful political and other leaders that the group believes have been chosen by God to direct the affairs of the world.
Charles Kimball is director of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma and author of a new book, “When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” This column is an excerpt from his new book. For more information about and to order “When Religion Becomes Lethal,” click here.