"He presses the crown rights of the Lord Jesus Christ in every sphere, expecting eventual triumph."
Christian Reconstrutionism is a little heard of religious philosophy that teaches that every aspect of society must come under biblical law. In their view, secular governments are in opposition to the word of God, and therefore they seek to eliminate all legal barriers between church and state. Founded in 1973 by R.J. Rushdoony, it has had wide influence in the modern Republican party. The overriding goal of Reconstrutionism is the absolute control of the reigns of government so that the world may be properly prepared for Jesus's return, and that achieving this goal will demonstrate the fulfillment of God's will. (Link)
There are five principles of Christian Reconstrutionism, summarized here:
First, Reconstructionists believe that God should be at the center of every activity, not just spiritual ones. Faith should be applied to art, education, and politics "no less than to church, prayer, evangelism, and Bible study."
Second, Reconstructionists are theonomists (theonomy: "God's Law"), meaining that laws are only righteous and just when they follow what the Bible -- primarily the Old Testament -- says. Law should serve three purposes: 1) To make other people Christian, 2) To provide a standard set of rules for all Christians, and 3) to maintain civil order. This has several frightening implications. Reconstructionists believe that non-Christian religions will be suppressed, that women will have their political rights stripped away, and that a return to slavery would be fulfilling God's will.
Third, Reconstructionists do not try and rationally come to a conclusion about whether the Bible is true or not. They believe in its infallibility regardless of evidence or reason. The Bible, being (they believe) the word of God, is above questioning. Similar to fundamentalist Muslims who believe the only book of any import is the Koran, Reconstructionists believe the Bible is the ultimate arbiter in all disputes, minor or major.
Fourth, Reconstructionists believe in the imminent return of Christ and a kingdom in his name will be established. The Left Behind series of books by Daniel LaHaye are a good summation of this belief. This ties into their literal interpretation and absolute belief in the Bible: some interpretations of the book of Revelation in the Bible purport to predict such a future. Due to their belief that the world must first be prepared for Jesus's return, they zealously pursue their political goals.
Finally, Reconstructionists are Dominionists. In the context of modern America, this means "[t]hat every area dominated by sin must be 'reconstructed' in terms of the Bible. This includes, first, the individual; second, the family; third, the church; and fourth, the wider society, including the state. The Christian Reconstructionist therefore believes fervently in Christian civilization" (Link).This belief has its origins in Genesis 1:6: "Let [humankind] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." The overriding goal of dominionism is the absolute control of the government and environment, and that achieving this goal is the fulfillment of God's will.
Political Conflicts Explained
Much of the modern conservative agenda ties in closely with Reconstructionist beliefs, and are frequently in lock-step with them. Some examples:
Welfare - Reconstructionists believe that the state has undermined the church by many of its duties, specifically aid to the poor, indigent, and those unable to provide for themselves. Tom Albrecht, an avowed Reconstructionist, summarized this belief in a Usenet posting as follows:
The purpose of the state, on the other hand, is to be a minister of justice (Rom 13:1ff). It alone is given the sword of power to inflict vengeance on those who would violate the law of God as expressed in the laws of the state.
In our society the state has, to a large extent, usurped the "gracious" role of the church by involving itself in areas that are the exclusive domain of the church or family; ministries to the poor and needy, education of children, etc. This is a form of paganism in which the state becomes god to many people under its ever expanding sphere of influence.
Environmentalism - Obviously if you believe that a divine entity has given the Earth to you for you to use as you will, you will be angered at those who seek to stand in your way. Further, environmentalists have a view of the future that conflicts deeply with the apocalyptic visions of Reconstructionists, leaving (they believe) no room for Jesus, the kingdom, and so forth. Taken together, it is easy to see why Reconstructionists hold a special animosity towards environmentalists.
Civil Liberties - Liberty and freedom are not terms that appear very frequently in Reconstructionist writings, since so much of Reconstructionism is in direct opposition to the principles of freedom.
Death Penalty - Since the Hebrew scriptures have many offenses whose punishment is death, Reconstructionists are staunch supporters of the death penalty. They feel the death should also be given to adulterers, blasphemers, heretics, homosexuals, prostitutes, witches, abortionists, idolators, etc., as proscribed by the Old Testament.
Slavery - There is debate among Reconstructionists about whether or not slavery should be reinstituted, but the fact that the debate even exists is telling in and of itself. Women in particular would have their status reduced to that of a slave.
Evolution - Since evolution flatly contradicts a strict interpretation of the creationist story told in Genesis, they are in deep opposition to it.
Income Taxes - For Reconstructionists, income taxes are antithetical to Old Testament teachings, and are therefore to be eliminated. Further, lowering the income received by the government will hasten a crisis which, they believe, will allow them an opportunity to replace much of the existant federal government with a more theocratic state.
Moderate Republicans - More traditional Republicans have a view of the state much different from their Reconstructionist counterparts, and are therefore sidelined by much of the Republican elite.
Israel - The nation of Israel ties heavily into Reconstructionist thinking, being the place they believe Jesus will first physically appear after his return. Further, since they believe that the Jews are ultimately doomed, they give little thought to the humanitarian violations visited upon the Palestinians by the Israeli government. Their only concern insofar as Israel is concerned is to make sure it continues to exist as a state until the Rapture comes.
Iraq - Iraq (Babylon) also plays a large role in their eschtalogy, supposedly destined to become a neutral player in world affairs, and a focal point of the events that occur during the end-times (Link). They are therefore staunch supporters of the war in Iraq, and are hypothesized to have been influential on Pres. Bush in his decision to go to war.
Reconstructionists would be of less concern if it were not so widely influential in American political circles. Rep. Tom DeLay, Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Rep. Ron Young, Sen. Sam Brownback, and others are all supporters of the Reconstructionist agenda. Pres. Bush's policies are more often than not in total synchrony with Reconstructionist desires, and he has been energetically embraced by them. Most of the current administration's policies can be tied together under a common thread when looked at as an execution of Reconstructionist thought, and this is truly frightening for Americans of all religious traditions.
Reconstructionism is an abhorent religious philosphy to those who value liberty, justice untainted by religious fervor, and a secular democratic form of government. Reconstructionism is based upon a twisted interpretation of the Bible, and gives little thought to putting the words of Jesus into action. It varies very little in its goals and pratices from the brand of Islamic fundmentalism forced upon the people of Afghanistan by the Taliban -- a totalitarian religious order, doling out justice according to their twisted interpretations of a religious text, and forcing the people to believe as they do or suffer violent consequences. They give no thought to the lessons learned by humanity throughout its bloody history, believing that all lessons were codified thousands of years ago when the Old Testament was penned, and that nothing new has been learned since. Further, it preaches that the highest morality is to spread the word of God, and that whatever means are used to get to that end are fully justified.
Christian Reconstructionism - A general description and history
Fanatics of the far right
Christian Reconstruction - Copy of a post made to soc.religion.christian
Christian Reconstructionism, Dominion Theology, And Theonomy
Operation Potomac - How Reconstructionists are taking advantage of the current trend towards "faith based" charities