Major Ron Paul Supporter Favors Death Penalty for Gays
Photo Credit: AFP
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
At first it seemed like the moment of triumph for the Ron Paul for President campaign. The Texas congressman had won the endorsement of Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a prominent right-wing Nebraska pastor, just as momentum built toward a possible big win for Paul in next week's GOP caucuses in neighboring Iowa, where evangelicals comprise a majority of voters.
The campaign issued a press release on Wednesday, lauding Kayser and trumpeting his endorsement, citing "the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul's approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs." Then came word of Kayser's "Christian belief" in applying the death penalty for gay male sex, and the Paulites got busy scrubbing their press release from the campaign Web site. (The text of the release and a screen shot can be seen on the Web site Outside the Beltway.)
What reporters Pema Levy and Benjy Sarlin of TPM uncovered when they scrolled through Kayser's writings on his Web site, Biblical Blueprints, were not simply the rantings of a random fringe preacher, but a "blueprint" for the philosophy of Christian Reconstructionism, which seeks to make manifest biblical law as the law of the land. That would include the death penalty not only for the practice of sex between men, but also for adultery and insubordination by children.
Coming on the heels of recent revelations by a former aide that Ron Paul would not use the bathroom in a gay man's home or shake the hand of a gay supporter, and the homophobic and racist utterances attributed to him in a series of newsletters published under his name in the 1980s and '90s, news of Kayser's death-to-the-gays theology was hardly a boon to the campaign.
In one of the many pamphlets authored by Kayser, the TPM reporters unearthed this from a tract on the biblical validity of the death penalty:
It is not just the sinfulness of homosexuality that is known, but also the justice of the death penalty for homosexuality. In verse 32 Paul says, "Who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them."
The mere threat of the death penalty for the sin of gay sex, Kayser wrote elsewhere, can be "restorative" to those so threatened. When questioned by reporters Sarlin and Levy, Kayser confirmed his beliefs.
Paul's Long History with Christian Reconstructionists
The campaign can scrub its embrace of the Christian Reconstructionist preacher, but it can't scrub Ron Paul's long ties to the Reconstructionist movement, from which the more broadly accepted dominionist strain in right-wing evangelical Christianity flows. As we reported, when Ron Paul exited the GOP presidential race in 2008, he chose to endorse neither Sen. John McCain, Ariz., the Republican nominee, nor former Rep. Bob Barr, Ga., the Libertarian Party nominee. No, Ron Paul threw his support to Pastor Chuck Baldwin, who ran on the ballot of the Constitution Party, sort of the political arm of the Christian Reconstructionists. (Baldwin parts company with Reconstructionists on his idea of how the end-times will go down, but is otherwise well-aligned with the Reconstructionist agenda.)
Founded in 1992 by Howard Phillips, a follower of Christian Reconstructionism founder Rousas John Rushdoony, the Constitution Party offers this in the preamble to the party platform:
The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.
Hard-core Christian Reconstructionists like Kayser and Phillips (who is also a founder of the modern religious right and a close ally of Ron Paul) aren't easy to come by, despite the profound but often undetected influence of Reconstructionist thought on right-wing evangelical churches. One area of difference between Reconstructionists and more garden-variety evangelicals is toward Israel and the vision of the end-times. The more common position among evangelicals is premillennialist, meaning that Israel must be constituted as a nation before Jesus will return to rule the righteous. As we reported last August, Reconstructionists adhere to the view expressed by Ron Paul at a "Pastor's Forum" at Chuck Baldwin's Pensacola, Fla., church -- that Christians are the new "chosen people," and the righteous must rule for 1,000 years before Jesus will return.