The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
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). ( continue to full post… )
This Friday, a far-right religious activist who co-authored a repulsive apologia for Southern slavery and argues that women were created to be “dependent and responsive” to men, will speak on sexuality and the Bible at Indiana University, Bloomington. Invited by a campus Christian group, Douglas Wilson’s impending visit to this major university has set off something of a local firestorm.
Wilson, who runs a religious empire in Moscow, Idaho, that includes a church, a college, a lower school, and a right-wing religious press, is best known for his 1996 book, Southern Slavery, As It Was, written with another far-right pastor. “Slavery as it existed in the South … was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence,” it claims. “There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. … Slave life was to them [slaves] a life of plenty, of food, clothes and good medical care.” ( continue to full post… )
Four 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.
This Sunday, The New York Times Magazine ran a 3,000-plus-word piece on one Doug Wilson, a Moscow, Idaho, pastor described as trying to “reinvent conservative Protestant education” with his New Saint Andrews College. The story, a major feature in the magazine’s annual “college issue,” suggests that Saint Andrews is home to “a band of cultured missionaries,” a place that “tries to unite faith and reason.”
Well, sort of. “Onward, Christian Scholars,” by Molly Worthen, does describe Wilson’s religious empire as “radically conservative” and notes that Wilson (pictured, right) would like to see Jefferson Davis, late president of the Confederacy, as president. But Worthen, a student of American religious history, omits a few critical points (here and here and here).
In fact, Doug Wilson is co-author of a piece of sorry scholarship, entitled Southern Slavery, As It Was, that argues that “[s]lavery as it existed in the South … was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.” “There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world,” the book continues. And then: “Slave life was to them [slaves] a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.” No serious scholar of slavery or the Civil War accepts these ludicrous assertions. ( continue to full post… )