Teenage Mutant Theocrats

History is powerful, which is why the religious and secular right invoke it so often. But progressives have generally not done well in addressing how the religious and secular right manipulates history to craft a contemporary political narrative that places them conveniently as the true interpreters of the will of God and the Founding Fathers. I wrote back in 2007 that

Christian revisionist-influenced political breezes are even blowing in the Democratic Party. Prominent campaign consultants are advising their clients not to use the phrase separation of church and state because it raises “red flags with people of faith” and because the phrase does not appear in the Constitution. This is an excellent example of how successful Christian revisionists have been in their efforts to delegitimize the term as part of their efforts to shape and control public discourse in their direction. This is also symptomatic of the way that our political leaders are so far away from being able to articulate a compelling narrative of the story of religious liberty in America, that some are conceding the ground and listening to campaign consultants who say that it is better to say nothing.

Clearly, we need to do better, much better than this. Meanwhile, homeschoolers steeped in Christian nationalism have been systematically groomed and mobilized to provide fresh blood and perspective in the Republican coalition. And national pols who know better, from John McCain to Newt Gingrich are pandering to Christian Nationalism.

According to an article in World Net Daily, profiling the homeschooled (til the 9th grade) and then-Congresswoman elect Jaime Herrera (R-WA)

Homeschoolers were active nationwide in the mid-term elections, with a division of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association called Generation Joshua deploying 900 students in 21 races.

The Student Action Teams, or SATs, of about 45 or 50 were sent out five days before the election. In previous elections, they have worked for candidates such as Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Gov. Bob McDonnel of Virginia and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

Daniel Webster, a homeschooling father, who was infamously smeared by opponent Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., as “Taliban Dan,” was a beneficiary of Generation Joshua’s Florida efforts last week. Webster defeated Grayson by 18 points.

At this writing, American Majority (whose constituency certainly extends far beyond homeschoolers) has trainings coming up in a dozen states, notably the battleground state of Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, the more extreme elements of the homeschooling movement have had many years to develop, and have done so largely unnoticed, with a few exceptions. The 2006 documentary Jesus Camp revealed neo-pentecostal summer camp director Becky Fischer proudly teaching children that their lives would be defined by their service in God’s Army, and that that was not merely metaphorical. The film also showed Religious Right leader Lou Engle personally coaching the children (on a field trip from North Dakota) in antiabortion protest at the U.S. Supreme Court.

All this follows the trends that were clear when I was writing about Christian nationalism and revolutionary theocratic elements of Christian homeschooling for my book Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. At the time, a staffer at the Home School Legal Defense Association, Chris Klicka wrote that sending children to public school “violates nearly every Biblical principle… It is tantamount to sending our children to be trained by the enemy.” Klicka also urged Christian homechoolers not to have anything to do with non-Christian homeschoolers. “The differences I am talking about,” he insisted, “have resulted in wars in the not too distant past.”

Journalist Eleanor Bader wrote about one revolutionary political training effort in 2009. She reported that longtime antiabortion leader (Operation Save America) Rusty Thomas was organizing what he called a Kingdom Leadership Institute, which is a forerunner to what he believes will be a bloody conflict the goal of which will be, writes Bader,

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