The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

No Exit: ‘Exodus’ Group Founder Still in California

By Mark Potok on January 7, 2008 - 12:27 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Christian Reconstruction, Neo-Confederate

Cory BurnellFour years ago, a 27-year-old Valley Springs, Calif., resident named Cory Burnell announced a project to eventually move tens of thousands of families to South Carolina in a bid to transform the super-conservative state into a kind of theocracy. It wasn’t long before questions came up about Burnell’s Christian Exodus group — Burnell had been a leader in the white supremacist League of the South, and was in fact pushing for the possible secession of South Carolina; he claimed that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the post-Civil War guarantee of the right to vote and equal protection for all Americans, had never been legally ratified and was not the law of the land; and he wanted to end public education, forbid the teaching of evolution, and enforce “Christian” morality through the power of government — but Burnell gamely continued to insist that he was carrying through on his admittedly ambitious project.

In ensuing years, Burnell told reporters that he and some 2,500 “Christians” would move to the state by 2006, and claimed that a half a dozen families had already done so. Later, he said that 15 families had moved, and that he would soon be joining them. After that, he said that the movement would concentrate on Anderson County, probably the most conservative county in the state, and that a dozen more families were heading that way. By early last year, he was saying he was planning an FM radio station that would start up any day. In June, he claimed another 15 Exodus families would arrive in the state by 2008 and repeated that he and his family were coming to South Carolina, only to concede days later that the job he’d found there had fallen through. Then, in July, he said that while he still wanted to move to the state, it was now up to God.

Apparently, the deity has spoken. According to the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail News, which has done most of the serious reporting on Christian Exodus, the group is now focusing on a totally different state — Idaho — because, it said, several of its families now “realize … they will not be moving to South Carolina.” Heading the effort in that northwestern state will be Paul Smith, who ran for Congress in 2006 on the ticket of the far-right Constitution Party of Idaho. Smith, the Independent-Mail reported, said during his campaign that the 9/11 attacks were the result of God’s judgment against America.

As to Cory Burnell, he and his family remain in California, where they’ve been throughout. No word yet from those Burnell followers who took their leader’s advice and moved to South Carolina. If the past is any guide, they may be waiting on their young leader for a good long time.

  • Josef

    Lets make a deal.

    He can have South Carolina to make a theocracy.
    The Christian Right leaves the rest of the country alone.

    And we have a contest for the next state so we don’t need to change the flag.

  • Thomas Rowley

    As noted in the Fall 2004 Intelligence Report, early on Burnell considered joining the New Hampshire Free State Project people but found the FSP group, like so many other groups and people in this country, was not to his liking. But that didn’t mean he didn’t like the idea.

    I’d say that he’s merely following the course here already laid down by Free State Project founder, Jason P. Sorens. You see, like CE, FSP had immediate difficulty meeting its recruitment goals, so they lowered the target – a lot. From 20,000 to 1,000. And they haven’t met that goal either unless around 750 get busy and move to NH by the end of this year.

    Like CE, a FSP splinter group has formed called Free State Wyoming.

    Like Burnell, NH FSP founder, Jason P. Sorens, has yet to re-locate to New Hampshire as he has asked so many thousands of others to do. And, similar in a way to Burnell, Sorens has said that he hasn’t found a job with the benefits that would make the move possible for him yet. Like Burnell, he’s a mass migration movement leader who continues to phone it in to his followers from out-of-state.

    Unispirational leadership seems to be a hallmark of today’s secession movement.

    Maybe Keith can help me with some math. Since the target of 10’s of thousands of commited CE followers moving to South Carolina has fallen way short, apparently by 10’s of thousands, just how many thousands of years is that 2016 secession date now being pushed back?

  • Keith Humphrey

    Christian Exodus is moving forward, though at a slower pace than originally anticipated. The focus has not shifted to Idaho. South Carolina remains the primary target, but the scope has expanded to encompass others in the Northwest who are committed to remaining near their extended families. There are many thousands of Christian activists seeking the freedom to govern themselves according to Biblical principles, and many of them have joined the Ron Paul Revolution. It is not about forcing others to submit to Biblical morality, but rather opposing the immorality that the central government forces upon us. Why is it so abhorrent to you to allow Christian families to raise their children in the way they think best? It is you who are hateful and forceful in your imposition upon others.

  • Iludium Phosdex

    Let’s not forget where the racist/white-supremacist element wants to have white South Africans “evacuated” therefrom and resettled as “refugees” in the United States based on “fear of persecution.”

    The which, if anything, are likely to be suspicious and lacking in credible substantiation.