Gary DeMar writes an excellent letter to William McKenzie, an editorial columnist for The Dallas Morning News, who wrote an article titled, “Barton: new face of the religious right?” But first, who is Barton? Barton has been instrumental in reintroducing Americans to their rich Christian heritage. He is also involved in the Republican Party. Williams considers Barton to be “on the next wave” of leadership of the Christian Right. The Texas Monthly described him as the “King of the Christocrats.” Time magazine included him in a list of “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America.”
I read your editorial on the change of leadership among Christian Right advocacy groups. There has always been a network of ministries working in the background before Jerry Falwell (Moral Majority), Pat Robertson (Christian Coalition), et al. came on the scene. We’ve been around a long time and are extending our ministry work in broad areas. Contrary to most critics of the Religious or Christian Right, we do not believe politics is the solution, although there is a proper role for the political realm. We only engage politics when civil government crosses its jurisdictional boundary. For example, since it’s the duty of the civil magistrate to protect human life, it’s a necessary prerequisite to engage the political realm to insure that protection. Abortion is a case in point. The issue is not “choice” but the status of the unborn.
I noticed that you quoted William Martin of Rice University. First, I don’t know anyone today who is calling for “a stronger union of church and state.” Christians believe in a jurisdictional separation between church and state, an issue that is not the point of the First Amendment. The First Amendment dealt with the constitutional relationship between the newly constructed national government and the states. Contrary to Martin’s claim, history is clear on this.
It’s also clear that there was no attempt to wall off religious precepts from political consideration. The history on this is abundantly clear. You mention in your article that you were shown the library of rare documents and memorabilia which Barton and his staff use to research the founders’ writings. You might have taken time to go through the library of rare documents instead of getting second-hand opinions from university professors.
Second, you have Martin saying, “Thomas Jefferson and James Madison fashioned the Constitution to avoid that.” Contrary to Martin, Thomas Jefferson did not participate in the fashioning of the Constitution. He was in France at the time. The First Amendment was not originally part of the Constitution. The addition of the amendments was at the insistence of the states to protect them from the very thing that is happening today—federal intrusion on state affairs regarding religion.
Third, Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” language is not embodied in the Constitution and did not enter the American vernacular until 1802. The phrase and the principle behind it can be found in the writings of Martin Luther (1483–1546), John Calvin (1509–1564), and Richard Hooker (1554–1600). Its origin is Christian, not secular, and has a particular biblical meaning that has been obscured by today’s courts and media.
If being a radical is defined by being “pro-life” and “pro-family,” then so be it. The Christian Right, if such a term is even appropriate, is not defined by one (Barton) or even several faces (Dobson, Falwell). It’s an ideology that is manifested in self-government, family government, church government, and civil government. It’s the America the Founding Fathers had in mind when they fought the British and when they spent countless hours formulating our Constitution.
Unlike the religious and political left, a term now more appropriate than ever, Christian conservatives do not believe that civil government is our savior. It’s a tool that we use to advance the kingdom. We have concern for the poor, the environment, and education; we just don’t believe that civil government and more money are the solution. If this makes me a radical, then so be it. But make no mistake, this type of thinking is what formed our great country and will take no less than the same to keep it going, inspite of efforts from the religious left to sink their own ship.