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Howard Phillips, Architect of the Religious Right, is Dead

By Hatewatch Staff on April 22, 2013 - 3:45 pm, Posted in Christian Reconstruction

Howard Phillips, one of the main architects of the Moral Majority and, more generally, the American religious right, died Saturday at the age of 72. According to the Christian News Network, he had been suffering from dementia.

Phillips had a long history in conservative and right-wing movements, including three runs as a third-party presidential candidate. He sat on the board of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and worked on Barry Goldwater’s unsuccessful 1964 presidential campaign. He then went on to get involved in the administration of Richard Nixon, who appointed him head of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO).

According to left-leaning sociologist Sara Diamond, Phillips was convinced that the OEO was a vehicle for radical leftist recipients, so he encouraged Nixon to appoint other conservative activists from YAF and the American Conservative Union with the aim of eliminating many OEO programs. He launched a public relations campaign, eliminated the OEO’s regional offices, and de-funded anti-poverty programs — until a federal court ruled his actions illegal because his appointment had not been confirmed by the Senate, sparking Phillips’ resignation. Phillips went on to found or help found several key right-wing organizations and networks, including Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority.

During the Reagan Administration, Phillips founded and headed the influential Conservative Caucus. He was a founding member of the secretive and influential conservative Council for National Policy, and served as a senior editor at the Conservative Digest. By the 1990s, Phillips had grown dissatisfied with the Republican Party (it wasn’t right-wing enough) and founded the U.S. Taxpayers Party in 1992. USTP later morphed into the still-extant Constitution Party, whose goal is to implement Biblical law in America and to “limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries” and on whose presidential ticket Phillips ran. The party platform includes pushing states to “proscribe sexually offensive behaviors” including homosexuality; calling on U.S. troops to protect states against invasion by immigrants; opposing abortion in any circumstance; banning pornography; abolishing the IRS and the Department of Education; preventing the federal government from restricting the acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of liberty, law, and government; and returning all lands “held by the federal government without authorization of the Constitution” to the people.

In the 1970s, Phillips converted from Judaism and become a believer in Christian Reconstructionism and a follower of the late R. J. Rushdoony (considered the father of Christian Reconstructionism, a theological doctrine calling for the imposition of Old Testament law on the United States). Rushdoony established the Chalcedon Foundation and was a slavery apologist (Phillips opposed the Voting Rights Act) who also supported the death penalty for gay people. The Chalcedon Foundation posted a brief blog about Phillips’ death, calling him a “longtime Chalcedon colleague and supporter, and close personal friend to R. J. Rushdoony.”

Phillips also attracted a following from the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. Texas Republican congressman Steve Stockman claimed on the virulently right-wing Free Republic website that Phillips’ work will live on through the “Constitutional government movement he helped build.” Chuck Baldwin, longtime Patriot pastor, has been tapped to speak at Phillips’ funeral in Virginia.

  • aadila

    Sam, does God’s model of personal freedom endorse impunity for bankers and officials who plunder billions of dollars from the national wealth, yet incarcerate one out of every ten Americans in a profit-making torture center, half of whom are there for crimes of non-violent drug offenses?

    What a mysterious notion of the universe, when wealth and power confer divine grace. What a wealthy, white, male God we have here in Babylon. How free we are. How Godly.

  • Kiwiwriter

    I don’ t like to crow over the deaths of people like this…they would crow over the deaths of their “enemies,” and I do not like to become what I behold.

    So I will rather say that I feel a sense of pity and waste that this man used the immense energy, passion, and talents that he had for such worthless and ignoble causes, and express my sympathies and condolences to his family.

  • http://none Robert Carr

    Interesting

    I ‘ve not heard of this man.

    His death doesn’t mean a lot, as there are plenty of other deluded ‘patriots’ to take his place, thanks to the elimination of Civics education, and Right-Wing political propaganda on TV.

  • Sam Molloy

    Gregory, and Aron, I was comparing the Religious Right’s dream government of forced Christianity, to our current government which more closely resembles God’s model of personal freedom than any other on Earth.

  • Erika

    You know that it is a bad sign when the best thing that you can say about someone is that he worked in the Nixon Administration attacking anti-poverty programs.

  • Erika

    Aron, such a pity, his name just wasn’t listed in The Book of Life.

    Haw Haw Haw!

  • Corey Mondello

    I am glad the msn is dead, now if more would only follow his lead, America and the World will be a better place!

  • Katie Powell

    His son, Doug Phillips, has founded a more “family friendly” type of group to promote Christian Reconstructionist & Dominionist ideas. It is called Vision Forum and targets families and children with things like youth events and a toy catalog, but it pushes the same agenda. Many of their followers are in with the neo-Confederates as well.

  • Sharon

    Wonderful news – Howard Phillips finally removed from the gene pool. I find it interesting he had been suffering from dementia – because I considered him DEMENTED for years.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov
  • EightBits

    Not everyone thinks the ‘bible’ or any religious doc’s belong in legislature. The bible has an extreme factual deficit.

  • concernedcitizen

    sj De, you are correct it’s about tyranny and power nothing more than weak lunatics trying to illegally and immorally gather power for themselves and their misguided fledglings.

  • Aron

    Damn. Looks like Gregory beat me to the question. That’s what I get for waiting twelve hours to ask.

  • Gregory

    Please tell us, Sam, how the gubbmint is preventing you from exercising free will.

  • Jose

    Howard Phillips helped found The Constitution Party, if that’s not a sole enough reason to be glad he’s gone, then I don’t know what is.

    Our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite. – Karl Popper

    That one’s for you Ruslan.

  • Sam Molloy

    sj De, that is a wonderfully correct analysis. I would also say that our government should try to be more like God. He allows people free will.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Yeah but Karl Popper was a hypocrite whose theory of the Open society contradicts material reality so it’s no big deal. I would say Phillips is just a scumbag.

  • Georgia Citizen

    I do not agree with all of his views,but I admire his tenacious spirit in fighting for his beliefs.

  • Jose

    If Carl Popper was still alive, he would have declared Howard Phillips an enemy of the Open Society.

  • Reynardine

    There is an old French song called” The Dead Donkey”. For some people, it’s a funeral march.

  • Reynardine

    Erika, that’s not cruel; that’s accurate

  • Aron

    Erika, it’s a lake of fire.

    You know, where all the unbaptized babies end up?

    Haw haw haw!

  • Erika

    is it wrong for me to be thinking that he’s now standing in flames being poked with a pitchfork by a Jack T. Chick cartoon devil yelling “I goofed”?

  • sj De

    Sure didn’t believe in the constitution did he? These people are as Radical as they come and it doesn’t have a thing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ either. It’s all about tyranny and power using God’s name. It has nothing to do with Christianity. Only a very stupid person would believe it did.

  • Sam Molloy

    There are many fiscal conservatives that do not include the religious fanaticism that this misguided person propagated. Some Republicans are beginning to swing toward a Libertarian view, as it more closely follows the Constitution and meshes well with the concept of limited government.

  • CM

    “Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.” – R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law.

  • concernedcitizen

    That’s not Holy Water their dipped in Mark

  • Robert Pinkerton

    Deliver us from rushdoonatics!

  • Reynardine

    When an *hole dies, he does not become a saint. He becomes a dead *hole.

  • Aron

    To avoid speaking ill of the recently deceased, I’ll let my comment speak for itself.

  • mark costanzo

    Phillips’ world view is [ as it's still very much in existence] scary stuff; a slight nudge right-ward, & you’re in the westboro baptist congregation. It seems like ultra-right politics dipped in holy water, not Christianity.