Remember Bobby Franklin, the Georgia legislator who wants to criminalize miscarriage and re-name all rape victims “accusers”? Turns out he really is a Christian extremist. Franklin belongs to the Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, which openly affiliates itself with Christian Reconstructionism. This Protestant movement, like its theological cousin, Dominionism, envisions the United States as a Christian theocracy in charge of the rest of the world.
Inspired by R. J. Rushdoony, who wrote
The Christian man is the only true free man in all the world, and he is called to exercise dominion over all the earth,
Christian Reconstructionists would impose their particular interpretation of the Bible in order to bring (they say “reconstruct”) all aspects of public and private life in line with their understanding of Christian morality. The oppose the separation of church and state and espouse a doctrinaire patriarchal ideology. As blogger Julie Ingersoll reports, Bill Moyers featured Bobby Franklin’s church in his 1992 documentary God in Politics: On Earth As It Is In Heaven.
While Bobby Franklin is certainly what Amanda Marcotte would call a “wing-nut,” he’s a particularly dangerous wing-nut who has been in office since 1996 and who exercises political power alongside many like-minded legislators. These Christian extremists interpret the Bible to say that men really are superior to women, that men should rule women, especially their reproduction. That is why they are not only against abortion, but also against contraception
Christian extremism is a lot like Islamic extremism–it is a reactionary response to modernity, to pluralism, to democracy, and to egalitarian movements such as feminism. It bills itself as a “conservative” movement that would “conserve” certain social structures and traditions that modern culture has outgrown.
Reconstructionism’s very name makes it very clear that what these seeming “conservatives” are not interested in holding on to principles, such as the separation of church and state, or liberty for all, or religious toleration, that have become important American traditions, although they were considered radical ideas in their time. They want to reconstruct, tear down and rebuilt, transform society according to their misogynist, homophobic, and racist principles. And they are quite willing to admit that the world that they envision has never been seen before on this earth.
My point is, we should not mistake Christian extremism (or Islamic extremism, for that matter) as an old-fashioned, or primitive, or even traditional ideology. It is a fearful, narrow and repressive response to the modern world.