Neo-Confederate Group Forms Paramilitary Unit—While Claiming It Isn’t

Michael Hill, president of the theocratic, White nationalist League of the South, has been escalating his threats of violence in recent months. As PRA has previously reported, Hill has gone so far as to call for the formation of death squads to target government officials and journalists of whom he does not approve. Hill now claims he was misunderstood—even as fresh evidence of his violent intentions has surfaced.

michael hill, league of the south

Michael Hill

In an essay published on the League’s web site on September 2nd, Hill does not quite deny that he meant what he said about violence, but he now claims he was just discussing ideas, and that the progressive writers who noticed his deadly assertions are “bedwetting” and “whining.”

Let’s look again at what he wrote.

Free men,” he declares, have the right not only to own guns, but to form militias in response to tyrannical governments. (And of course, he has many times stated that the government of the US is tyrannical.) He also says that since it would be impossible for the citizens to fight a conventional war against the police and the military, that a modern theory of guerrilla war known as “Fourth Generation Warfare” makes the most sense.

Here are his unambiguous words:

“As the Founders made explicit… the right to keep and bear arms is not really about hunting and sport shooting. Rather, it is about the citizens— the militia—having enough firepower to control their government if it should fall into the hands of tyrants….

In 4Gen Warfare the lines between the military and the political, economic, cultural, and social are blurred past the point of recognition. To oversimplify, the primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run.

4Gen Warfare doesn’t require that the populace be armed equal to the military and law enforcement. In fact, having such firepower, with few exceptions (such as full-auto “assault weapons,” silencers, and a handful of other esoteric toys), would be a logistical and tactical burden to the common 3- to 5-man group so common in this type of warfare.”

He concluded, “’Blessed be the Lord my strength who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight.’—Psalm 144:1”

But all this, he claims in his response to critics, was really just a discussion of the nature of 4th generation warfare, adding: “I’ll challenge all you bedwetting progs [sic] with this. You find proof that The League of the South is forming paramilitary “death squads” and then get back to your readership with it.”

Of course, what we had reported was that Hill had called for the formation of such groups, not that he had already done so.

However, on September 5th, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Ryan Lenz reported that the League had been organizing a secret paramilitary unit for months. They call themselves, “The Indomitables.” This, Lenz writes, follows “years of escalating and violent rhetoric from the League as well as a search for more ideologically extreme white nationalists to enliven their membership –– a pattern that has been ongoing since 2007, when the LOS national conference was titled ‘Southern Secession: Antidote to Empire and Tyranny.’”

The Indomitables unit features White supremacist military veterans, notably the League’s Florida chapter Chairman Michael Tubbs, who is a former Green Beret, demolitions expert, and convicted felon. He was released from prison in 1995, having served about four years.

Hill appointed Tubbs as his “Chief of Staff” in June of this year.

Tubbs has a long history of racism and criminal activity, as documented in 2004 by Mark Potok in Intelligence Report magazine:

“In 1987, prosecutors say Sgt. First Class Michael R. Tubbs and another Army Green Beret, toting automatic weapons fitted with silencers and dressed completely in black, robbed two fellow soldiers of their M-16 rifles during a routine exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C. ‘This is for the KKK,’ the holdup men shouted as they fled….

Ultimately, five caches of weapons were found, including machine guns, 25 pounds of TNT, land mines, an anti-aircraft machine gun, grenades, booby traps, 45 pounds of C- 4 plastic explosive and more. (Authorities believe that the arsenal was stolen from Fort Bragg and Fort Campbell, Ky.)

They also found notes written by Tubbs that showed that he and his brother, John Tubbs, were setting up a violently racist group called the Knights of the New Order. Officials said Michael Tubbs had drawn up lists of targets including newspapers, television stations and businesses owned by Jews and blacks.

There was even a group pledge authored by Tubbs: ‘I dedicate my heart to oppose the enemies of my race, my nation and the New Order. … I dedicate my life from this moment forward to fostering the welfare of the white Aryan race.'”

Try as he might to divert our attention by debating definitions and name calling–Hill has been caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. He called for the formation of guerrilla paramilitary units while simultaneously claiming he and the League were not.

Image from the League of the South's Florida Chapter's Facebook page

Image from the League of the South’s Florida Chapter’s Facebook page

Hill concluded his September 5th post:

“Even if we are –– and you really have no idea on earth if we are or not ––setting up a Southern militia or some other form of paramilitary organization, we are doing nothing that free men have not done for centuries. Deal with it and stop your whining.”

Hill would also rather not have us recall his other recent call for for violence–on which PRA also reported.

In a July 25th essay, Hill called on the young men of “Christendom” to become “citizen-soldiers” in the battles against the tyranny of our time. He sees himself and his comrades as part of a long line of such men, invoking historic battles with Islamic armies going back to the Battle of Tours in the 8th century. His role models for warriors for Christendom, however, are the White Westerners who fought against Black liberation movements in Southern Africa in the 1970s.

So if Western men in past times were willing to fight for their civilization in remote areas of the world,” he asked, “shouldn’t we expect them to be just as willing to fight for that civilization here at its very heart—the South?”

The traditions and truths of Western Christendom are anathema to the [Obama] regime,” he concluded. “The tyrants’ regime and Western Christendom cannot co-exist—that is not possible. One must win and the other must disappear. It is indeed the ultimate Zero Sum game.”

Hill knows that history teaches us that small groups of determined revolutionaries can wreak havoc. And he has made his intentions clear.

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AUDIO: Officer Who Pushed CNN’s Don Lemon Claims There’s a Military Plot For One-World Government

 

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St. Louis County police officer Dan Page is best known for shoving CNN host Don Lemon while the journalist was covering the Michael Brown protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Page has since been suspended after video of his speech to a right-wing militia group, Oath Keepers of St. Louis and St. Charles, was brought to the attention of his superiors. In his speech Page claims to inside knowledge of a grand conspiracy against “Caucasian Christians.” However this is not the only time Page has expressed such views, as PRA has learned, he forcefully touted his claims on the TruNews radio show with Rick Wiles on July 10, 2014.

St. Louis County Officer Dan Page

St. Louis County Officer Dan Page

Wiles’ popular radio show is a combination of end-times prophecy and right-wing conspiracy theories. For example, this past week Wiles interviewed Walid Shoebat, who claimed, “Obama is destroying Christian America. That’s his assignment as a jihadist, it is to destroy Christian America.” Shoebat is a popular speaker on the end-times prophecy circuit, celebrated for his claimed inside knowledge of a Muslim jihadist infiltration of U.S. government. PRA has also reported extensively on Shoebat and his claims, including in our 2011 research report, “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace.”

According to a USA Today interview with St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, Dan Page joined the police force in 1979, but spent about nine of the last twelve to fifteen years deployed with the Army. Throughout the TruNews interview, embedded below, Wiles addresses Dan Page as Sgt. Major and discusses only his military career. Neither Wiles nor Page mentions Page’s tenure with the St. Louis County Police.

The TruNews radio show starts with a dramatic opening introducing, “Trunews, the only newscast reporting the countdown to the second coming of Jesus Christ, and now for the most powerful hour on radio, here is the end time newsman, Rick Wiles.” Following the introduction, Wiles launches into an introduction of Page as being in charge of U.S. Army special forces in Africa and having inside knowledge of a plot to create a global regime.

Page follows with an equally grandiose and unbelievable account of his military career, recounting military exploits including Vietnam, paratrooper training, training in Germany for psychological and asymmetric warfare, and a recent assignment as the senior enlisted adviser to the commanding officer of Africom. Page mispronounces the names of places and countries with which he is supposedly familiar, while claiming that his military experience has provided him with inside knowledge of a grand worldwide plot to end American sovereignty and a one-world government and military takeover.

Here are a few clips of the interview (the full and unedited version is at the bottom of this article):

Page claims (at about 21 minutes in) that the definition of terrorism has been changed by Homeland Security. Page states:

“It is a Caucasian male 18-65, one who supports the second amendment, one who believes in the second coming of Jesus Christ, one that is against illegal immigration and is against homosexuality and has a definition of traditional marriage. That is their definition of a terrorist.”

Wiles responds, “It has appeared for several years that the Obamanistas are purging the military of the patriots. Is that the case?”

Page then responds, “Yes, that’s absolutely true.” He also gives an account of “four-star generals and above” who he claims were removed by the Obama administration because “of their refusal to support military involvement in domestic affairs.” When Wiles asks Page why none of these generals have spoken out, he implies it is because they don’t want to lose their pensions. Wiles then asks if something significant is in the works for the year 2015. Page claims that he sat in on briefings from very high sources and learned that there is a timeline for orchestrated events that will create havoc worldwide and allow for the supposed globalist takeover.

Wiles also brings up the current influx of refugee children from South America into the United States, and asks Page if it is one of those orchestrated events. Page says it is, and that the wider scenario includes nuclear suitcase bombs, a planned North American Union, and, of course, further “demonization of Caucasian Christians.” Page expresses his belief that the flood of immigrant children is a clandestine operation with the purpose of programming American citizens for the eventual rounding up and imprisonment of their own children. In terms of the timeline for this conspiratorial takeover, Page states that he believes the takeover will be completed by 2017.

The interview closes with the following exchange (at 56:13 in the audio) about the inevitability of the coming one-world government takeover and loss of American sovereignty:

Dan Page: You have to put that [fear] aside] and make some decisions. God put the man in charge of his household to do two things—provide and protect his family. The males in this country are not doing that, they’ve abrogated that to the police department and somebody else to take care of it. It really grieves me to say, no, it can’t be stopped.

If we could get the men mobilized, to get politically active and hold the local and state officials responsible, we could change this. But I would give you some suggestions on this. Focus your attention at the county and state level, such as the sheriff’s office and things like that. Do not give any support to any federal, career politician. Do not donate to the Republican faction or the Democratic faction of the socialist party that we have in charge. Do not contribute anything to them. Stay at the state and local level. Then I think we have a chance.

Rick Wiles: The bottom line is Jesus Christ is our only hope.

Dan Page: I agree with that.

Rick Wiles: Unless this nation turns to Jesus Christ, nothing we do is is going to work.

Dan Page: Absolutely.

The St. Louis/St. Charles, Missouri Chapter of Oath Keepers has tried to distance the organization from the video of Page’s speech to them now that it has received national attention. However, the video rant, as well as the above interview, is compatible with the ideology voiced by leadership in the organization as well as a spin off of the group called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association or CSPOA. Both groups have a mission of organizing their members to refuse to enforce federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional.

The St. Louis County Police department is one of the few county-controlled police departments in the nation. Most county departments are headed by elected sheriffs, who are viewed by the Oath Keepers and CSPOA as the supreme law of the land, with a constitutional mandate to counter the federal government, particularly concerning gun laws. Oath Keeper Richard Mack, the head of CSPOA, has described his organization of county sheriffs as the “army to set our nation free,” and claims to have about 500 county sheriffs who have signed on in agreement with their mandate .

Click here for the profile on CSPOA

Click here for the profile on CSPOA

Mack himself is a former sheriff, as well as a former lobbyist for Gun Owners of America  (GOA). The CSPOA 2013 convention was held in St. Charles, the county seat of St. Charles County, Missouri. Over an hour of the highlights of that convention can be watched at their website.

These highlights and other media of the Oath Keepers and CSPOA focus on the role of county sheriffs to stand against “executive orders to derail the Second Amendment,” as described in a letter sent to sheriffs around the country by the the Liberty Group Coalition (comprised of the CSPOA, Oath Keepers, GOA, John Birch Society, and the Tenth Amendment Center).

I have written previously about the CSPOA as part of the national movement promoting nullification and secession in a profile of the organization and in a longer article titled Nullification, Neo-Confederates, and the Revenge of the Old Right. As I wrote in the profile, the May, 2013, CSPOA conference featured religion-infused rhetoric against “tyranny” of the federal government. Speakers included former Constitution Party leader Michael Peroutka, GOA’s Larry Pratt, Joe Wolverton of the John Birch Society, U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), and Mike Zullo.

Zullo is Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s chief “birther” investigator. Part of the conference was dedicated to his latest revelations in this ongoing pursuit. Conference speakers also included several county sheriffs and Tea Party leaders. The highlight video opens with one of the few people of color in the movement, Sheriff David Clark of Milwaukee County.

PRA Fellow Frederick Clarkson has also written extensively about one of the speakers at the St. Charles CSPOA event, neo-Confederate leader and 2004 Constitution Party candidate for president, Michael Peroutka, who switched parties (presumably to gain credibility) and is currently a Republican nominee for the County Council in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Peroutka is joined on the ticket by longtime ally and graduate of Peroutka’s course on the Constitution, Joseph Delimater, who is running for county sheriff.

Peroutka’s race for county council has already drawn national attention. Paul Rosenberg, writing at Salon, casts the Peroutka race in terms of the Republican Party’s race problem, as racist outbursts undermine the party’s efforts to become more diverse.

My article on nullification and Clarkson’s articles on Peroutka go into greater detail on the religious background of the philosophy behind organizing local and county leaders to lead a revolution against the federal government.

Unedited full version of Dan Page’s interview:

Update: 

Dan Page was also interviewed on May 12, 2014 on the John Moore Radio Show.  At about 24:50 in this interview, Dan Page states, “You’ve got Sen. Claire McCaskill right now beating the podium about assaults in the military and probably 99.9% of these things are bogus.  One only need to look at a woman in a way she feels uncomfortable and that’s considered sexual assault in the military.” 

UPDATE #2:

On May 29th of this year, Officer Page appeared on the Caravan to Midnight radio program, and claimed that the public education system is full of Caucasian female school teachers who are teaching young Black males to hate White men. According to Page, those young Black men grow up to be willing to violently disarm White men.

 

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If Democracy is a Crime Under Religious Right’s Biblical Law, What is the Punishment?

The League of the South, best known for its advocacy of white supremacy and the secession of Southern states in the name of Southern Independence, has another less well known dimension: The advocacy of Old Testament notions of the “law of the Bible” as the standard for contemporary civil law— including the prescribed criminal punishments for non-believers.

The League and its leaders are not exactly household names, although New York Times best-selling author Thomas Woods is an unapologetic founding member and close confederate of Ron Paul. But they overlap with the more extreme elements of anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice movements, and led by elements of the virulently theocratic theological strain, Christian Reconstructionism.

image via the Florida League of the South's website

image via the Florida League of the South’s website

Contemporary Christian Right leaders have focused on matters of sexuality, notably homosexuality and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).  But it wasn’t until the notorious “kill the gays bill” in Uganda, where the notion of the death penalty was formally raised. But if the Old Testament Biblical Laws that are foundational to the contemporary Christian Right are to be the standard, then it stands to reason that the biblically prescribed punishments would, in their view, fit the crimes. If that is so, then many of us who think that democracy and religious pluralism are good things may, come the theocracy, find ourselves guilty of capital crimes.

League of the South president Michael Hill laid it out in stark terms in a recent column.

In a piece titled The League and Theocracy, Hill claims that theocracy is what God wants for us, and that anyone who says otherwise is committing treason against God’s Laws. While this is serious enough coming from an organizational leader, in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, it is worth considering that such views maybe more common than usually meet the eye.

Hill argues that religious pluralism is an affront to “the law of the Bible,” and anything other than a theocratic approach to Christianity and government is, he declares, “watered-down, emasculated, wimpy, liberal-sotted ‘Christianity-lite’.” A theocracy, he insists, “is a government ruled by the triune God of the Bible: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. More precisely, it is a government whose code of law is firmly grounded in the law of the Bible.”

Before we get into this further, it is worth noting that Hill’s views are at odds with history. The ratification of the Constitution by the original 13 states, most of which had been miniature theocracies for a century and a half, set in motion the disestablishment of state churches and the elevation of religious equality and the individual’s right to believe (or not) as they choose as a central value of our society. It is this right to believe as we will, and to believe differently than the rich and the powerful, which was the original contribution of the framers of the Constitution and a central part of our story as a nation. We can’t have religious freedom without religious equality, and we can’t have religious equality without religious pluralism.

In light of this, Hill’s argument may sound arcane and his reasoning circular—but it is nevertheless worth understanding because Hill is far from alone in such views, and arguably versions of his thesis are part of the driving ideology of the wider leadership of the Christian Right and their agenda.

Hill continues:

“Simply put, locate the source of law for a society and you have found its god. In a democracy, for instance, the people serve as god – the ultimate source of sovereignty…. All societies are theocracies, whether they realize it or not. But there is a major difference in what traditional Christians (regardless of denomination), on the one hand, and pagans, on the other, have believed and that is this: a society that is not explicitly Christian is a theocracy under the sway of a false god. The false god of the modern American Empire is the god who demands tolerance and pluralism…”

In this way, Hill identifies democracy as idolatry (worship of a false god) or apostasy (abandonment of the faith.) Either way, as Hill understands it, these will not be matters of religious but civil law. And they may well be capital offenses. These, along with more than 30 others, were enumerated by the leading theocratic theologian of the 20thcentury, R. J. Rushdoony—an American whose work has been profoundly influential in catalyzing the contemporary Christian Right. Beyond such crimes as murder and kidnapping, death penalties apply, according to Rushdoony and the influential Christian Reconstructionist movement he launched, are mostly related to religion and sexuality. In addition to idolatry and apostasy, there is blasphemy, and the propagation of false religions, and specifically, astrology and witchcraft. Crimes related to sexuality include adultery, homosexuality, and premarital sex (for women only).

In his foundational tome, Institutes of Biblical Law, Rushdoony called idolatry, “treason” against “the one true God.”

These things said, there are many contemporary theocrats who do not follow Rushdoony down every detail of what ought to be the basis of a criminal code in the U.S. and everywhere else in the world. But since Rushdoony was the first to systematize what he calls “Biblical Law,” everyone interested in the topic measures where they are stand in relation to him.  (Biblically approved methods of execution, according to Reconstructionists, include stoning, hanging and “the sword.”) How the law would be implemented, would depend entirely on the interpretation of the Bible, and the political predilections of the leading faction at the time.

Hill writes:  “There is really only the choice between pagan law and Christian law and nothing else. There is no neutral position where one can comfortably sit. The God of the Bible specifically forbids pluralism (“Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” Ex 20:3).” Hill couldn’t be clearer that in his view that religious pluralism under the law, is idolatry. “The simple choice that lies before nations,” he concludes, “is either pluralism or faithful obedience to God’s word, and the two are mutually exclusive.”

Like his fellow members of the League of the South, Maryland Republican candidates Michael Peroutka and David Whitney, Hill argues that if governmental leaders fall out of synch with Biblical Law—“If they rule unfaithfully, and thus tyrannically, they are illegitimate and their decrees have no authority.” Peroutka and Whitney have previously made this point regarding the Maryland legislature’s endorsement of marriage equality.

So this is the problem for contemporary Americans wrangling with the definition of religious liberty. Is religious liberty to be reserved only for Christians of the right sort, as defined by the likes of Hill, Peroutka and Whitney (or other leaders of the Religious Right and the Catholic Bishops)? Or is religious liberty something that belongs to all citizens without regard to their stated religious or non-religious identity at any particular time?

Such questions have, in centuries past, been the stuff of religious wars. And some Christian Right leaders are coming to see violence as an inevitable result of contemporary religious and political tensions on these matters. The question of whether, or to what extent, opponents of contraception and abortion get to define the standard for religious liberty in these matters was not settled by the Hobby Lobby decision. And who gets to be the arbiter of religious liberty on marriage equality is also deeply contentious, in light of the spread of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has been proposed in several states and signed into law in Mississippi and allows businesses to discriminate against LGTBQ employees and customers if their personal faith does not approve of homosexuality. The legislation is modeled on a bill which was originally crafted in large part by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund), and the Arizona political affiliate of Focus on the Family. But in North Carolina, the mainline protestant United Church of Christ (UCC) has filed a federal lawsuit against the state’s constitutional amendment banning the performance of same-sex marriage ceremonies. The UCC argues that this law violates the religious liberty of their church, its clergy and its members. The million member denomination has officially recognized same-sex marriages since 2005. As it happens, a recent federal court ruling in Virginia overturning a similar amendment, may also apply to North Carolina which is located in the same federal court jurisdiction. At this writing, it appears that will be the case.

But even as the courts are recognizing marriage equality and the debate over religious liberty continues, the view of doctrinaire theocrats that governments and government officials and others who do not comport with God’s Law as they understand it, remains unchanged. How they reconcile their views with the contemporary struggles over the law is also a struggle whose outcome remains to be seen. However, it is worth not losing sight of the fact that for some, there is no answer but armed resistance. Hill has called not only for the South to rise again, but to lead the resurrection  with vigilante death squads targeting government officials, journalists and others who do not comport with their particular religious and political views.

We have become almost accustomed to hearing declarations from the likes of these men justifying vigilante violence against everyone from abortion providers to government officials, said to be tyrants. But it is helpful to remind ourselves that the society that they envision is not only based on Biblical Laws, but on Biblical punishments. And those who advocate for religious liberty, and if the theocrats ever achieve their desired governmental control, are likely to find themselves charged with a variety of crimes, and punished accordingly.

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Let’s Not Ignore the Overt Calls for Violence from the League of the South

Since FebruaryPRA has been covering the emergence of theocratic, white nationalist candidates from both major parties running for public office in Maryland. Now, two of them, Joe Delimater and Michael Peroutka, are, respectively, the Republican candidates for sheriff and county council. Peroutka, a wealthy attorney and 2004 Constitution Party presidential candidate, has a good chance at winning in his historically Republican council district. The controversy over his candidacy has become hot in the media and in state politics—but there is still an elephant in the room.

Leading Democrats, Republicans, and editorial writers in Maryland have called on Peroutka to disavow the neo-Confederate agenda of, and his personal involvement in, the white nationalist, secessionist League of the South. (Peroutka was a member of the board of directors of the League in 2013, and remains a defiantly proud member.). A conservative columnist recently worried that Peroutka will be a drag on the national Republican Party in 2014.  Others have called on the GOP to decide if it will stand by and allow Peroutka to win his race for county council in his historically Republican district.

Michael Peroutka. Photo via The American View.

That is a useful discussion.  But there is an eerie silence about other obvious aspects of the vision of the League, Peroutka, and his closest religious and political associates.  The fact is that they are involved not in an eccentric nostalgia for retrograde racial politics and wishful thinking about secession of the Southern states so much as a revolutionary vision of theocratic, white nationalist violence.

Peroutka certainly holds views that are far beyond anything that could be described as “conservative.” But let’s consider the views of his close friends and allies in the League of the South, the organization he used to lead and which he refuses to distance himself.  For example, his friend and ally Michael Hill, the president of the Alabama-based League of the South has, among other things, called for the formation of death squads to take out American government officials and journalists and for white men of all ages to become “citizen soldiers” in a great modern defense of archaic notions of Christendom. 

On July 15, just a week after Peroutka’s upset win in the primary for the GOP nomination for Anne Arundel County Council, League president Michael Hill published an essay on the organization’s web site.  Hill’s essay advocated for the deployment of death squads in the context of guerrilla civil war, in which “the lines between the military and the political, economic, cultural, and social are blurred past the point of recognition.”  This essay, titled “A Bazooka in Every Pot,” describes this effort as featuring “three-to-five-man” units with a hair-raising mission: “The primary targets will not be enemy soldiers,” Hill wrote.  “Instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run.”

On July 25, Hill followed up with an essay in which he calls on the young men of “Christendom” to become “citizen-soldiers” in the battles against the tyranny of our time.  He sees himself and his comrades as part of a long line of such men, invoking historic battles with Islamic armies going back to the Battle of Tours in the 8th century.  His role models for warriors for Christendom, however, are the White Westerners who fought against Black liberation movements in Southern Africa in the 1970s.  “So if Western men in past times were willing to fight for their civilization in remote areas of the world,” he asked, “shouldn’t we expect them to be just as willing to fight for that civilization here at its very heart—the South?”

“The traditions and truths of Western Christendom are anathema to the [Obama] regime,” he concluded.  “The tyrants’ regime and Western Christendom cannot co-exist—that is not possible.  One must win and the other must disappear.  It is indeed the ultimate Zero Sum game.”

In his 2102 keynote address at the League national conference, Peroutka declared:  “I don’t disagree with Dr. Hill at all that this regime [apparently referring to the Obama administration] is beyond reform, and I think that’s an obvious fact, and I agree with him.”  Then he added a glimpse of his own theocratic vision for what might come next:

“However, I agree that when you secede, or however the destruction of the rubble of this regime takes place and how it plays out, you’re going to need to take a biblical world view, and apply it to civil law and government. That’s what you’re still going to need to do.  We’re going to have to have this foundational information in the hearts and minds of the people or else liberty won’t survive the secession either.”

The Past is Prologue

Michael Hill epitomizes the escalation of the open expression of violent ideologies, as I discussed in an essay in The Public Eye in June titled “Rumblings of Theocratic Violence.” One of the featured characters was David Whitney, who leads a small church in Pasadena, Maryland, and is Peroutka’s pastor and business partner in the Institute on the Constitution.  Whitney has justified the assassination of abortion providers—calling it “biblically justifiable homicide.”  He has also called for establishing theocratic governance under Biblical law; restricting citizenship to Christians of the right sort; forming citizen militias to resist governmental tyranny; and leading imprecatory prayer against the White House staff—including, presumably, against President Obama.  Whitney is the chaplain of the Maryland chapter of the League of the South.

On July 8, Peroutka e-mailed Hill asking him to help get League members to support his campaign.  (Hill posted the e-mail under the headline: “A political victory for us in Maryland!”)  Peroutka wrote, “I ask you to ask the membership for prayers and for whatever financial support they can muster. I am grateful for our friendship and for the work of LS. [League of the South].”  (Apparently the members came through, because the League has already sponsored telephone polls in his district.)

Peroutka and his running mate, GOP candidate for county sheriff Joe Delimater, provide the League a measure of democratic legitimacy for its anti-democratic, revolutionary aims.  But Hill’s vision of armed resistance to the alleged tyranny of the state and federal government and his open call for covert teams of assassins make Michael Peroutka’s claim to oppose racism seem like a small bit of political spin in a gathering political storm of far greater consequence.

From the Florida League of the South’s Facebook page, posted on May 25.

Unsurprisingly, the League is a political home for other would-be violent revolutionaries.  Former Green Beret Michael Tubbs, for example, was a League leader in Florida when Intelligence Report, the magazine of the Southern Poverty Law Center, revealed in 2004 that Tubbs was actually a convicted “Aryan” terrorist.  Tubbs had been arrested with arms, explosives, and a hit list that included newspapers, television stations, and businesses owned by Jews and Blacks.  As the SPLC’s profile on the League reports, “When these embarrassing facts were revealed, Hill and other league leaders allowed Tubbs to stay on, saying he’d paid his debt to society.”

So far, the political community has been eerily silent about the explicitly violent intentions of the emerging Peroutka faction of American public life.  Hill’s recent call for the formation of death squads has been reported only by Jonathan Hutson at the Huffington Post and Van Smith at the Baltimore City Paper.  This explicit and specific call for violence is part of several related trends involving ideologies and actions related to the ideas of nullification and secession, as well as related ideologies of theocratic violence among elements of the Christian Right.  We are seeing one manifestation of these trends on vivid display in Anne Arundel County. Some of us, that is.

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“Libertarian Scaife” and His Religious Right Legacy

Richard Mellon Scaife was the “epitome of a libertarian,” or at least, that’s how he was described in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review following his death on July 4. “Libertarian Scaife” is apparently how he wished to be remembered in the city where many of the landmarks bear his famous family’s name. But Scaife’s redefinition as a libertarian is belied by his decades of funding, including as funder of the architect of the religious and political right alliance and religio-political think tanks.

Richard "Dick" Scaife. Image via Fair.org

Richard “Dick” Scaife. Image via Fair.org

The libertarian portrayal of Scaife in the newspaper that he owned, including quotes from his long-time lawyer describing him as the defender of “free speech, freedom of the press, the separation of church and state, a woman’s right to choose, and other individual liberties,” is in contrast with “Citizen Scaife,” the title of the Columbia Journalism Review’s multi-part 1981 profile. The series portrayed Scaife as a “funding father” of the emerging New Right.

At that time, the foundations Scaife controlled were the leading source of seed money for two dozen New Right organizations, and funding for neoconservative military and intelligence think tanks.

And there is another not-so-libertarian legacy of Scaife’s funding that was not mentioned in most of his obituaries.

“Libertarian Scaife” empowered the Religious Right

He did not do it alone, nor was he the first plutocrat to fund the enlistment of amenable religious leaders as partners to roll back the New Deal, or to make use of John Birch Society-style Christian Nationalism to attack unions and the regulatory system.

Today’s constitutional conservatism is a curious marriage of Ayn Rand-style economics to social conservatism, or even a biblical worldview in which American law is to align with biblical law. The plus for plutocratic funders is that this biblical worldview also portrays the Bible as aligned with free market fundamentalism.

That list covers more than a half century and has included Sun Oil’s J. Howard Pew, textile magnate Roger Milliken, and Fred Koch. But few have been better at the behind-the-scenes funding of this partnership than Scaife. The outcome of his actions? An empowered Religious Right, who today prefer the term “constitutional conservative” to describe their wing of the GOP.

The Scaife-controlled foundations—the Sarah Scaife, Allegheny, and Carthage Foundations, run from the 39th floor of the Oxford Centre in Pittsburgh—are at least partially responsible for the consummation of this plutocratic/theocratic partnership. The enigmatic Scaife’s personal activism sometimes conflicted with the unruly offspring of his foundation’s largesse.

The Oxford Centre in Pittsburgh, PA. The Scaife foundations are housed on the 39th floor. Photo by the author.

Oxford Centre, Pittsburgh, PA. The Scaife foundations are housed on the 39th floor. Photo by the author.

Evidence includes a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal in 2011, with a letter by Scaife calling for conservatives to oppose efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. His passing is an opportunity to ask why Scaife and other billionaires have helped to empower, whether intentionally or not, this theocratic-minded offspring that will long outlive them.

Richard Viguerie, leading patriarch of the Religious Right, told a Heritage Foundation audience in April that he was more optimistic than ever that “constitutional conservatives” could take over the Republican Party by 2017. Viguerie insisted that their agenda must go beyond rolling back the New Deal and return a pre-Teddy Roosevelt era, and that the enemy was establishment Republicans like Rep. Eric Cantor. Viguerie suggested that Sen. Rand Paul (R) be given the vice presidential slot on the 2016 ticket in order to bring libertarians on board—not really much of a concession since Paul has himself rejected the libertarian label in the past for that of “constitutional conservative” (and is described as the standard bearer of that movement by his former aid and ghost writer Jack Hunter, a.k.a. the “Southern Avenger”).

Scaife was not a direct funder of Religious Right institutions that are household names (that was left to families like Prince/DeVos and Coors), but he was a major funder of the late Paul Weyrich, shepherd of the Religious Right into GOP politics, and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the Council for National Policy. Described as the “Robespierre of the Right,” for his purges of the insufficiently conservative, Weyrich left the Heritage Foundation and started what would become the Free Congress Foundation (FCF). Scaife, who had supplied the bulk of the seed money for Heritage and served as vice president of the board until his death, also funded Weyrich’s FCF—sometimes to the tune of over a million dollars a year.

This included in 2001, when the FCF published the manifesto “Integration of Theory and Practice,” calling for a new traditionalist movement of conservatives and right-leaning libertarians, and the following.

“Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. All of our constructive energies will be dedicated to the creation of our own institutions.”

In a 2005 CSPAN interview about his career, Weyrich said that he could not have done what he did without the help of Dick Scaife.

Before Scaife paved the way with millions of dollars for conservative infrastructure, the St. Louis Post Dispatch noted, “there was a world where extremist ideas weren’t repackaged as mainstream by outfits like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Judicial Watch, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Cato Institute or the Federalist Society.”

And Scaife did not stop there. He funded the building of new institutions, but also the destroying of old ones. He extended his impact on American religion by funding entities that undermined denominations and marginalized religious leaders not so amenable to rightwing politics.

Church & Scaife

The Scaife foundations funded the institute that published the First Things magazine of leading neoconservative Father Richard John Neuhaus, and the closely allied Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD)—jokingly referred to during the Reagan administration as “the official seminary of the White House.”

A 2004 exposé by the late Methodist pastor Andrew Weaver was titled “Church & Scaife: Secular Conservative Philanthropies Waging Unethical Campaign to Take Over United Methodist Church.”  Weaver described IRD as a pseudo-religious, neo-conservative organization with a goal of undermining the liberal, social and economic justice mission of mainline Protestant denominations.  Christian Century exposed the fact that 89 percent of IRD’s early funding came from three foundations, and the largest block from the Scaife foundations. Infiltration of the Mainline Protestant denominations came in the guise of renewal groups, as described by PRA fellow Frederick Clarkson, also featured in the documentary “Renewal or Ruin.”

The largest single block of funding for think tanks promoting climate change denial has come from Donors Trust, according to a 2013 study by Drexel University, but a close second is the Scaife foundations at over $39 million dollars (well ahead of the funding from the Koch Brothers’ foundations).

Merging plutocratic interests with religion has been key to promoting climate change denial, including in the 2010 DVD series “Resisting the Green Dragon,” a product of the Cornwall Alliance. The 12-part teaching series, used in churches nationwide and featuring major Religious Right leaders, claims that environmentalism is a religion in opposition to Christianity.  Funding is hidden behind Donors Trust, but the Cornwall Alliance is a project of the James Partnership, founded by E. Calvin Beisner, a fellow with several Scaife-funded entities, including the Atlas Economic Research Institute, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and IRD.

The irreligious Scaife’s molding of religion into the image of right-wing politics was not limited to Christianity.  As reported by the Washington Post, Scaife provided the seed money for former Reagan State Department official Elliot Abrams’ 1997 book “Faith or Fear.”  Sponsorship of the book was suggested by the president of the Hudson Institute and reportedly prompted by Scaife’s concern that most American Jews remain politically liberal.

Islam and immigrants provided a different type of target. The Scaife foundations are major funders of anti-immigrant organizations, but are outspent by Colcom, the leading funder of anti-immigrant causes in the U.S. and founded by Scaife’s sister.

Institutionalized Islamophobia was exposed in PRA’s research report Manufacturing the Muslim Menace, and in Fear, Inc. by the Center for American Progress, with the latter citing the Scaife foundations as the largest single source.

The Pennsylvania Plan

Partnership between free market fundamentalism and religion was extended to the state level through a network of Heritage Foundation-style think tanks in all 50 states.  These are linked through the State Policy Network and ALEC, but also work at the state level with a network of about three dozen state Family Policy Councils, loosely affiliated with the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.  This infrastructure is described in The Public Eye articles from 1999 and 2013, including coverage of the “Pennsylvania Plan” model of Don Eberly.  Eberly was founder of both the Commonwealth Foundation and the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which work on shared agendas like school privatization.

In a 1989 speech to the Heritage Foundation, Eberly described the need for initiating both free market and religious tanks at the state and local levels.  The Scaife foundations provide funding for both the Commonwealth Foundation and the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a similar think tank for the Pittsburgh area.

Scaife’s legacy in Pennsylvania includes an aggressive assault on labor unions.  A PRA report titled “The Well-Funded Anti-Labor Arsenal” tracked $170 million dollars to major anti-union think tanks across the nation over 20 years, where the Scaife foundations provided the largest single block of funding. In 2013, the Commonwealth Foundation launched “Project Goliath,” a plan described with biblical terminology to follow in the footsteps of Wisconsin and Michigan to destroy Pennsylvania’s labor unions.

The Enigmatic Scaife

The libertarian Scaife has been portrayed in obituaries as less zealous in his later years, but the Scaife foundations’ reports show no backing away from right-wing causes, and the efforts to redefine him in his obituaries fail to negate his role as the “funding father” of modern conservatism.  Quoting a column in the St. Louis Post Dispatch,

“Without those early Scaife-paid efforts, there might have been no Fox News, no tea party, no Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz. …Without the Federalist Society, whose members include four justices of the Supreme Court, there would be no corporate personhood decisions like Citizens United and Hobby Lobby.”

I would add that without Scaife’s funding, we might not now live in a nation where the interests of a few plutocratic billionaires successfully masquerade as religion.

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From Europe to the United States: Ultra Right Ideology Continues to Gain Ground

Almost a decade ago, in the Spring 2005 issue of The Public Eye magazine, Jérôme Jamin examined the role of the Extreme Right in European politics (It’s worth noting that PRA no longer uses the term “Extreme Right,” as it has become so casually applied in the political discourse. We now generally use “Far Right” or “Ultra Right”). Jamin observed, that “as yesterday’s fascists [had] entered government,” it had become more difficult to identify them as such. With many of these parties participating in ruling coalitions, their public actions did not necessarily reflect their political rhetoric, restricted by coalition partners and, more broadly, by the European Union.

From May 22nd to the 25th this year, European parliamentary elections were held across Europe, and the same troubling questions came back to the fore. Parties of the Right with strong anti-immigrant and anti-Europe policies have flourished across Europe. Some of these parties have direct ties to the Nazi party, and many more use the same imagery. The Front National and the Danish People’s Party won the largest share of the vote in France and Denmark, respectively, by seeking to present themselves as mainstream. This mainstreaming has parallels in the U.S., with individuals and organizations with racist, sexist, and homophobic views seeking—and often gaining—mainstream credibility.

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen, the new leader of Front National

Thanks to the new leadership of Marine Le Pen (daughter of former Party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen), Front National has been pulling off major upsets in French politics. The change in leadership from father to daughter allowed the party to distance itself from the controversial views of Jean-Marie, a man with a history of Holocaust denial, antisemitism, and racism, and who recently suggested that ebola could be the solution to population control and European immigration. Despite all this, the party now presents itself as moderate, having been through a process of “detoxification.” (Marine Le Pen took a political rival to court for calling her a fascist.) Success in the elections will only further the Front National’s move toward the mainstream. Having won 25 percent of the vote, they are now the largest French party in the European Parliament.

Winning an even higher percentage of their country’s vote, the Danish People’s Party became the largest Danish party in the European Parliament, doubling its number of seats. Its campaign relied on anti-immigration policies and racist statements, largely directed against Muslims. Party candidates have specifically argued against Muslim immigration, going so far as to suggest a ban on immigration from Islamic countries.

Among the other parties, Golden Dawn and Jobbik (of Greece and Hungary, respectively), stand out as examples of the Far Right’s rise in Europe. While it hasn’t achieved the electoral success of some of the other groups, Golden Dawn’s rise, in particular, shows that even clearly Nazi-inspired symbolism can win votes. From violent attacks on immigrants by likely supporters, to racially discriminatory welfare programs, and even to readings of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Greek parliament, you don’t even need to see their clearly Nazi-inspired rallies, logo, and flag to recognize the worrying similarities to Nazism. Golden Dawn only received 9.4 percent of the vote, but the party is now the third largest Greek party in the European Parliament.

A similar party in Hungary, called Jobbik, did not gain new seats in the elections; having received 14.7 percent of the vote, however, it’s certainly not on the decline. The party is clearly anti-Semitic (at one point asking to “tally up people of Jewish ancestry”), anti-Roma (suggesting Roma individuals be forced into camps, possibly for life), and anti-LGBTQ (proposing a similar “gay propaganda” law to the one recently passed in Russia).

There were many more smaller parties on the Ultra Right that won their first seats, including the National Democratic Party of Germany, a neo-Nazi party, whose new Member of the European Parliament has a laundry list of offensive comments, including calling Hitler “a great man.”

In the nine years since Jamin’s article, the Ultra Right has succeeded and thrived in becoming a considerable force in European elections, but it is still suffering from a self-imposed identity crisis. A recent Guardian article asked when it is appropriate to describe these parties and individuals as fascists. Controversial comments by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, referring to the Front National as a fascist party, have only added to the confusion over identifying the Ultra Right as such, especially when the parties in question are appealing to a quarter of voters, and whose policies don’t always reflect their racist ideology as much as they used to (at least explicitly).

To a certain extent, the two- party system in the U.S. has prevented Ultra Right groups from gaining traction here. Nevertheless, there are links between the Ultra Right in Europe and organizations on the Ultra Right in the U.S.  Moreover, strategies aimed at mainstreaming these dangerous ideologies should be cause for concern here, as well.

For example, National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown traveled with a group of French activists, including an ex-Front National candidate, and a top adviser to Marine Le Pen. The British National Party has clear links with the American Third Position (now the American Freedom Party), a group listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a White Nationalist group.

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan

Other U.S. groups have been broadly supportive of the Ultra Right in Europe. David Duke, the former KKK Grand Wizard, celebrated the election victories of Ultra Right parties in Europe as “a small step forward to saving the world from Jewish supremacism.” Influential conservative leader and former White House communications director Pat Buchanan even wrote an article that broadly supported the election result, and has consistently either supported White Nationalist groups, or been supported by them.

Finally, White Nationalist ideologies have found their way into U.S.-based organizations (many of which try to brand themselves as “mainstream”).  From panelists at CPAC from a White Nationalist group, to a North Carolina congressperson appearing on a White Nationalist radio show, to Iowa congressman Steve King defending author Peter Brimelow (profiled by the SPLC as a White Nationalist), there is substantial overlap between the Right of the Republican party and elements of the Ultra Right, including White Nationalist movements. It should not come as a surprise, therefore, that elements of the White Nationalist movement are even demanding credit for the GOP’s similar strategies and policies.

The Ultra Right in Europe has gained ground, in many places displacing established parties by a considerable margin. Parties that were previously considered fascist, alongside younger parties with Islamophobic and racist immigration policies, have pushed their way toward success by seeking to mainstream their public reputation, if not their core ideology.  In the United States, the electoral system may be less likely to allow parties of the Ultra Right into formal power, but their ideologies still have currency within swaths of the GOP.

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GOP Voters in Maryland Face Dilemma as Theocrats Win Party Primaries

Something unusual is happening in the politics of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Michael Peroutka, one-time presidential candidate of the Constitution Party, won the Republican primary for a seat on the County Council and GOP Central Committee. His pastor, and partner in the Christian historical revisionist Institute on the Constitution, David Whitney, ran for the same County Council seat as a Democrat and for his party’s central committee (he lost both races). PRA has reported on these races since February, but we also now know that Joseph “Joe” Delimater III, an ideological ally and pupil of Peroutka and Whitney, won the uncontested GOP primary for county sheriff.

This election season in Anne Arundel County (which includes the state capital of Annapolis) appears to be intended as a church-based electoral pilot project, from which like-minded theocratic factions can learn. It is also may signal a small, but significant, national trend in applied theocratic theory.

Joseph Delimater

Joseph “Joe” Delimater, III. Image via Facebook

As PRA has reported, Peroutka and his ilk believe that holding local office empowers them to defy state and federal law under the rubric of an ancient concept called The Doctrine of the Lower Civil Magistrate. The Capital Gazette (the daily newspaper serving Annapolis) also recently reported on Peroutka’s unusual views.

“Peroutka has called the federal government and Maryland’s state government ‘lawless,’ because of their failure to abide by biblical precepts. Four days before the primary, he posted a video on the institute’s website in which he called the General Assembly ‘invalid.’”

Peroutka’s spokesman, John Lofton, who also worked on Peroutka’s 2004 presidential campaign, told the Gazette “that as a County Councilman, Peroutka would evaluate each piece of legislation to be sure it was authorized by God in the Bible, the U.S. Constitution and the Anne Arundel County Charter.” He also suggested to the Gazette that government programs and services as road work and fire departments could be privatized.

The Doctrine of the Lesser Civil Magistrate, which Peroutka, Lofton and Delimater believe justifies their view of the nullification-role of county sheriffs and councilors, has been adopted by conservative Christian leaders who are opposed to religious pluralism and separation of church and state, as well as such matters as abortion, LGBTQ rights, taxes, public education and gun control laws—roles they say are empowered to overthrow “tyrannical government.” Indeed, many contemporary theocratic activists look to the example of Oliver Cromwell who, as a member of Parliament in 17th Century England (and thus a lesser magistrate), led the Puritan-controlled Parliament in a revolt against the King of England. Cromwell’s forces ultimately drove the king out of power and chopped off his head.

Interestingly, Delimater, as a church elder and a graduate of Peroutka and Whitney’s Institute on the Constitution, is the third member of the Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church to run for county office this year. Delimater is so close to Peroutka and Whitney that on his campaign website he plagiarizes an entire June 17th Peroutka essay titled “It’s the Law”—the same piece on which PRA and the Gazette recently reported. “When our local officials,” Delimater plagiarized, “including county councilman and sheriff’s [sic] confront such “pretended legislation,” it is their duty to resist its implementation.”

An Applied Doctrine of Theocratic Revolution

This notion of the duty to resist ungodly laws, leaders and government, based on the Doctrine of the Lower or Lesser Magistrate has a long history among the overtly theocratic elements of the Christian Right. They would like it to become a trend, and two recent books are seeking to make it so.

In 2012, Mathew Colvin self-published a translation of the 16th century Magdeburg Confession—a statement by Protestant clergy in the German town of Magdeburg, who refused an order by King Charles V to renounce their anti-Catholic heresy.  This statement informed later, better known arguments regarding religious resistance to governmental authority. Colvin’s translation enjoyed a scholarly introduction by American theocratic author George Grant, of Franklin, TN.

Then, in August 2013, longtime Constitution Party activist and anti-abortion militant, Rev. Matt Trewhella of Wisconsin, published The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates:  A Proper Resistance to Tyranny and a Repudiation of Unlimited Obedience to Civil Government. Trewhella, who also claims to have played a role in publishing Colvin’s book, sells both via a web site appropriately titled LesserMagistrate.com.

Trewhella is best known as an anti-abortion militant who distinguished himself by signing the 1994 Defensive Action Statement, which sought to justify the murder of abortion providers. He later gained national notoriety when Planned Parenthood Federation of America published video excerpts of a speech he gave at a state convention of the Constitution Party’s predecessor, the U.S. Taxpayer’s Party, in which he advocated church-based militias and told his congregants to do “the most loving thing” by buying their children “an SKS rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition.” He said he was teaching his own 16-month-old the location of his “trigger finger.”

While Trewhella has faded from national attention, when the Christian News Network needed a comment regarding the removal of references to marriage and abortion from the Clark County, Nevada GOP platform in April 2014, they called Trewhella and Peroutka.

“When will Christians ever learn they are getting played by the GOP?” Trewhella said in the interview. “It is like Lucy pulling the football out from in front of Charlie Brown so that he falls on his back again and again.”

“We need people to be Biblical and constitutional,” Michael Peroutka added. “Republican is not the standard.”

Understandably, Peroutka (as the former Constitution Party and League of the South leader) is giving Anne Arundel County Republicans pause— and a dilemma. If Peroutka wins, the probable configuration of the council will be three Republicans, three Democrats, and Peroutka. And he will scrutinize everything they do through his idiosyncratic notions of an ability to void all government and laws that don’t line up with what he believes are God’s laws.

Similarly, Delimater promises to only enforce laws according to a similar, perhaps an identical, idiosyncratic standard. Delimater writes in a Q&A section of his campaign website

Q. What makes you such an expert on the U.S. and Maryland Constitutions?

A. I have attended 12 week courses given by The Institute On The Constitution both for the U.S. Constitution and the Maryland Constitution.  Since then I have been taking additional courses on the Maryland court system, the Federalist Papers, duties of a jurist, etc.”

The day after Peroutka’s surprising win, The Capital Gazette issued a strongly-worded editorial naming the stakes in November’s general election. “Peroutka told voters the truth,” the editorial reads, “when he stressed that he was against taxes and stormwater fees. He didn’t stress that he’s also a theocrat and secessionist who thinks it would be great if local officials refused to uphold state laws.”

So will Republicans, who are the majority in the council member district 5 and in the county, vote for the theocrats who are hell-bent on throwing monkey wrenches into the normal functioning of government? Or will they vote for the Democrats?

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VIDEO: Hobby Lobby Decision Restricts Religious Freedom

PRA’s executive director Tarso Luís Ramos joined The David Pakman show to discuss how SCOTUS’ Hobby Lobby decision actually restricts religious liberty.

david pakman logo

“Despite the rhetoric of Christian Right groups, the battle for the meaning of religious liberty is not between Christianity and secularism, but between pluralism and authoritarianism. However strong their convictions may be, the Religious Right’s campaign is about exempting themselves from federal laws and winning the government-backed right to impose their religious beliefs on others. This is exactly what the Constitution’s Framers sought to avoid. They called it “tyranny.”

Watch it below, and check out more from The David Pakman Show here!

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PRA’s Fred Clarkson Discusses Religious Liberty on Between The Lines Radio

PRA’s senior fellow, Frederick Clarkson, joined Between The Lines radio this week to discuss the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision, and the broader campaign to redefine religious liberty by the Religious Right.

Between the Lines“The greatest significance [of the Hobby Lobby ruling] is going to be over time. When a Supreme Court decision comes down, a body of federal case laws develop as a result… As a matter of religious belief, the Supreme Court has now said that a company can defy medical science, and get an exemption from federal law. That’s an extraordinary development.”

Clarkson goes on to explain how the Right is implementing not only a judicial and court campaign to redefine religious liberty, but are also using legislative and PR attacks in an effort to create the exemptions necessary for them to be able to dictate the religious consciences of individuals.

Click here to listen!

Check out more from Between The Lines here.

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Fred Religious Freedom Picture

Party-Switching Theocrat Wins Primary, Claims Maryland Legislature is Invalid & Talks Revolution

A few months ago, former Constitution Party members Michael Peroutka (the Party’s 2004 presidential candidate) and David Whitney (his pastor and close confidant) teamed-up to run for local office in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Peroutka ran in the GOP primary for County Council, and for GOP Central Committee; while Whitney ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the same seat on the County Council, and for a seat on the Democratic Party’s Central Committee. Whitney lost decisively in both of his races, while Peroutka won a seat on the Republican Party Central Committee, effective July 5th, and if results hold after absentee and provisional ballots are counted, Peroutka will be the Republican nominee on the November ballot for County Council.

Michael Peroutka

Michael Peroutka

While PRA has worked to expose this remarkable story for several months (as has the Southern Poverty Law Center), the mainstream press’ first real exposé came out just before the election. On June 24, the weekend before the primary, The Baltimore Sun dug into the views of the theocratic pair, pointing out Peroutka and Whitney’s efforts to distance themselves from the racist, secessionist, League of the South (both are members). League president Michael Hill endorsed them anyway.

The day after the primary, Peroutka issued a pronouncement that is likely to make his fellow Republicans, to say the very least, uneasy. In his regular broadcast of The American View, he suggested that all of the laws of the state of Maryland may be invalid, because the state legislature is an invalid body of government for having considered initiatives that, in his view, “violate God’s Law.”

“For the past few years,” Peroutka declared, “the behavior of the legislature in my home state of Maryland raises the question whether the people of Maryland may be justified in reaching the conclusion that what we call our “General Assembly” is no longer a valid legislative body.

And if the case can be made that the legislature of Maryland or of your state is not a valid body, then, it follows that no validity should be given to any of its enactments.”

As we reported here at PRA regarding the pair’s seemingly inexplicable campaigns, Peroutka’s partner in the Institute on the Constitution, David Whitney, expressed a similar view in testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the State Senate, when it was considering marriage equality in 2011. He argued that if the legislature passed marriage equality, it would invalidate the entire state government and, thus, state laws should no longer be honored.

“Is it possible that those who are sworn to uphold the law, such as police and sheriffs and judges and prosecutors, may soon come to the conclusion that the enactments of this body,” Peroutka rhetorically asked, speaking of the state legislature, “should be ignored because they are based not in law, but in lawlessness? Indeed what can the people do—what should the people do when those who are entrusted with making and enforcing the law actually become the lawbreakers? What happens when they use the ‘law’ to break the law?”

This kind of call for defiance of state and federal law, and particularly of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, have a long history among Peroutka’s colleagues in the Constitution Party. In 1996, for example, the Constitution Party’s Vice Presidential candidate, Herb Titus, told me at a press conference that lower-level government officials (called “lesser magistrates” in the archaic language of the ideas on which his views are based), may refuse to enforce ungodly laws and policies of the government, and rise up against a government that has become corrupt or tyrannical. (I discuss this further in my book Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, Common Courage Press, 1997.)

Larry Pratt, head of Gun Owners of America, agreed on the first page of his 1995 book Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Citizen Militias that county sheriffs and other state and local officials need armed militias “to resist any tyrannical act on the part of the federal government.”

The first example Peroutka, in his video, gives of ungodly law and the need for resistance is abortion.  He declares that for law to be valid it has to be consistent with God’s Laws.  He offers as an example, “an enactment that allowed the taking of innocent life would violate God’s Commandment ‘Thou shalt not murder,’ and would, therefore, not constitute a law…” In the video, an image of a front page The New York Times report on the 1973 legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court scrolls by—followed by an image of a fetus in the womb.

He accuses the Maryland state legislature of, quoting the Declaration of Independence, “a long train of abuses and usurpations.” This is significant in part because the sentence goes on to say that this “Despotism” leads to the right and duty to, “throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

In a June 17th broadcast of The American View, he was even more explicit, arguing “When our local officials, including County Councilmen and Sheriffs, confront such “pretended legislation,” as the Declaration of Independence referred to invalid laws, “it is their duty to resist its implementation.”

Peroutka’s intentions are as unambiguous as they are eccentric, by the standards of most people across a wide spectrum of religious and political thought. But he is far from alone in thinking that resistance, including violence, and secessionist civil war may be necessary. His colleague David Whitney has been clear on the point, as have certain other leaders of the Christian Right. (See PRA’s recent report, Rumblings of Theocratic Violence.)

Peroutka borrows from the Declaration and other texts to justify a contemporary revolutionary view: that local law enforcement officers, led by county councilmen, should resist  the laws and the authority of the government of the United States, and the state of Maryland. From the standpoint of theocratic, secessionist revolution, that would certainly be a start.

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