League of the South Works to Take Over Churches
League thinkers offer their own distinctive spin on theonomy and Reconstruction. They invoke a particularly Southern view of history that is increasingly popular in Reconstructionist publications, especially The Counsel of Chalcedon.
In these articles, Wilkins, among others, argues that the South was the only part of the United States to remain true to the Bible. The North, he says, abandoned true Christianity and became a heretical society.
It was this theological divide, and not slavery, that led to the Civil War, Wilkins argues. He also sees slavery as sanctioned by the Bible. Besides, "American slavery was perhaps the most benevolent slavery that has ever existed in the history of the world," Wilkins told The Counsel of Chalcedon in 1997.
"Their purpose [Northerners] was not merely to destroy slavery and its evils but to destroy Southern culture," he alleged. "There was a radical hatred of Scripture and the old theology, which they felt were so bad for the country. They saw the South as the embodiment of all they hated. Thus, the northern radicals were trying to throw off this Biblical culture and turn the country in a different direction."
Wilkins also discussed LOS, then known as the Southern League.
"We believe the South was the last bastion of Christendom," Wilkins said in the journal's interview. "We want the principles upon which the South stood to be embraced again by the entire country. We want, not only the South, but the whole union to rise again from the paganism that presently prevails."
"Our goal is to rebuild on the ruins and see this lost civilization restored again by the grace of God. This is the goal of the Southern Heritage Society [an arm of Wilkins' Auburn Avenue church] as well as the Southern League."
'A Boil on the Body of Christ'
Wilkins' church is a key focal point for this movement. He pushes Reconstructionist and League ideas from the pulpit and elsewhere.
In December, The Chalcedon Report, the leading Reconstructionist journal that is published by Rushdoony's Chalcedon Foundation, devoted an entire issue, including a Wilkins piece attacking abolitionists as "terrorists," to "The Civil War Revived: Secularism vs. the South."
Wilkins' church hosts semi-annual conferences and Confederate balls that bring to Monroe men like LOS President Hill and Joseph Moorecraft, the Reconstructionist theologian.
During these events, Wilkins reportedly demanded that congregants provide lodging for the church visitors. "They got real pushy about us not putting people up," says Kathy Holland, a former congregant.
"They were glaring at us from the pulpit. Wilkins said we were a boil on the body of Christ that sticks out, pops out, pokes out and squirts."
Wilkins, add some former and present church members, spends much time discussing the coming end-times anarchy, a situation that will involve a government crash or even a race war. They say that church elders in late 1999 were so concerned about a Y2K crash that they stocked the church basement with supplies.
It is perhaps no coincidence that one of the country's major founts of Y2K paranoia was none other than Gary North, the Christian Reconstructionist ideologue.
Race War and Children
"They believe either a race war will happen or the government will collapse," Michael Holland, a former Auburn Avenue member who has left the congregation, said in an interview. "They said you have to fight for what you believe in."
The church actually wanted congregants to become physically prepared for the end-times battle, adds Roger Carter, a disgruntled congregant. "They liked the idea of a strong body, in case we'd ever have to fight."
According to Michael and Kathy Holland, other children at the church taunted the Hollands' youngsters because the Hollands refused to allow their children to train to fight, fearing they'd be hurt. The Hollands say that led to more trouble.
The elder Hollands say knives were held up to their kids' throats. They say one son was stuffed in a trash can headfirst, while their youngest, then 6, was thrown down a flight of church steps, leaving him with a back injury.
Matthew Holland, 8 at the time of the reported 1999 incidents, said other kids in the congregation "pulled at me and tried to shut a door on my fingers. They pulled Elijah's head backwards and yelled some stuff at him. When they pulled his head back, they said there were going to stick it up his bottom. They said they were going to cut our heads off."
When the Hollands stopped attending the church for fear of the children's safety, they were put up for excommunication.
"The elders hold the key to heaven and the gates of hell. When they excommunicate, they do it to the whole family," says a distressed Michael Holland. "If you believe, then this is like saying that you are going to hell. It's the Biblical equivalent of holding a gun to your head."
They are still waiting to hear the outcome of the procedure.
Today, thanks to Wilkins and few compatriots in the League of the South, extremist interpretations of the Bible are spreading in the South. Already, there is a very real chance of a religious split in the PCA denomination that could result in the formation of a hard-right group of theonomic churches.
In Louisiana, Wilkins is already spreading the ideology of Reconstruction from the pulpit and his web site. In Mississippi, John Thomas Cripps is pursuing a similar course. And the League and its leaders seem clearly to have embraced theonomy as their theological base.
As the activities of these men and the journals they write for picks up, there is a real danger that their ideology will spread. And that scares Michael Holland.
"Others need to know what they are facing," Holland said of the apparently spreading movement. "What I want people to understand is they believe in a hierarchy of individuals. Equality is Satanic, democracy is Satanic. They preach this from the pulpit... . If League of the South is on the banner, then watch out."