Although Christian reconstructionism has declined as a movement, it is still having influence on a new generation of evangelical activists, according to the Public Eye (Fall), a left-of-center newsletter monitoring the Christian Right. Christian Reconstructionism, which teaches that America should be a Christian nation run by biblical law, has often been cited by critics of the Christian right as a source of “Christian nationalism” devoted to the Republican party.
But Michael McVicar, who is writing his dissertation on the movement for Ohio State University, writes that such a portrayal is far from the truth. For one thing, most Reconstructionists oppose George Bush and the Republican Party, particularly his foreign policy on Iraq and instead gravitate to a “libertarian perspective that [looks] outside the boundaries of popular conservatism for answers to the problems facing the United States.” McVicar also points out that Reconstructionism has been fragmented and weakened as a political movement since the 1980s. The faction led by theologian R.J. Rushdoony has never recovered after his death in 2001, with donor support drying up. Even before his death, Rushdoony was increasingly pessimistic about Christian right political action. The other faction led by Gary North has been too preoccupied with doomsday and catastrophic scenarios (including his forecasts of A worldwide breakdown due to the Y2K crisis in 2000) to engage in politics.
In contrast, McVicar sees Reconstructionist ideas still flourishing among networks of local conservative evangelicals. Such thinking is evident in the Exodus Mandate, led by Southern Baptist E. Ray Moore Jr., which as recently as 2007 called for Christian children to leave public schools, as well as for the formation of a K-12 school system administered by Christian churches. Another example is the recent Worldview Super Conference, which gathered some 800 participants, led by the Atlanta-based American Vision, drawing on Reconstructionist ideas while advocating political action.
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