Major Ron Paul Supporter Favors Death Penalty for Gays
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.
In his address to the segregationist John Birch Society's 50th Anniversary Gala in 2008, Ron Paul spoke in the code he knew would be understood by Christian Reconstructionists, who have long ties to the Birch Society. Reconstructionists refer to the righteous who reside in a land swept by evil as "the remnant." (A prominent Christian Reconstructionist publication is called The Remnant Review.) "The remnant holds the truth together," Paul told the Birchers, "both the religious truth and the political truth.'"
Good Reconstructionist Friends
After news of Kayser's death-wish for gays swept through the blogosphere, the pastor, in an apparent act of solidarity with the Paul campaign, removed the link to his pamphlet, "Is the Death Penalty Just?" (It remains available, at press time, in PDF form here.)
Other publications available from Kayser via his Web site include a bibliography of resources, titled Worldview Reading List, which firmly roots Kayser in the Christian Reconstructionist ideology, citing Rushdoony's seminal Reconstructionist text, the Institutes of Biblical Law, some 28 times.
In the Institutes, Rusdoony wrote that "deliberate and mature warfare against God marks the homosexual." Consequently, he continued, "God's penalty is death, and a godly order will enforce it."
In hisWorldview Reading List, Kayser also cites Reconstructionist author Gary North, Rushdoony's son-in-law, seven times. In 1978, Ron Paul hired Gary North to serve as his congressional aide, though North lasted only through Paul's first term. (See Julie Ingersoll of Religion Dispatches for more on North and his relationship with Ron and Rand Paul.)
Another close associate of Ron Paul's is Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips, whose conversion to Christianity was inspired by Rushdoony himself. (Phillips routinely refers to gays as "sodomites" in his own writings.) Rushdoony, Phillips told me in September, made the conversion of Jews his special mission. (Phillips is of Jewish heritage.)
At a 2008 rally convened by Ron Paul in Minneapolis in the shadow of the Republican National Convention, Phillips appeared as a keynote speaker. Ron Paul has appeared with Phillips at Constitution Party events, and served as the keynote speaker of the 35th anniversary gala of the Conservative Caucus, another of Phillips' groups. Together with Phillips and John Birch Society president John McManus, Paul has spun a conspiracy theory about an imminent threat to U.S. sovereignty under the non-existent North American Union, which the three contend is a European Union-style plan already under way, designed to erase America's national borders and eradicate U.S. currency. Ron Paul's demand for a return to the gold standard for U.S. currency, as well as his disdain for the Federal Reserve, align perfectly with the "biblical" monetary policy positions espoused by Rushdoony in the Institutes.
Live and Let Die
A common misconception about the Ron Paul agenda is that he is a libertarian who just wants to let all humans live as they please. But Ron Paul is no libertarian; if not a Christian Reconstructionist himself, he is truly the best enabler a Reconstructionist could hope to have.
Ron Paul seeks to shrink the federal government to minimal size not because it intrudes in the lives of individuals, but because it stands in the way of allowing the states and localities to enact laws as they see fit -- even laws that govern people's behavior in their bedrooms. (Digby has dubbed this philosophy Ron Paul's "antebellum politics.")
Here's what Paul published on the Web site of Lew Rockwell --allegedly one of the authors of his racist, homophobic newsletters -- about the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas that struck down the state's anti-sodomy laws, which prohibited sex between men:
The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment "right to privacy." Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states' rights — rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards. But rather than applying the real Constitution and declining jurisdiction over a properly state matter, the Court decided to apply the imaginary Constitution and impose its vision on the people of Texas.
This plays neatly into the hands of Paul's Christian Reconstructionist friends, who seek the destruction of the federal government for the opportunity to implement "God's law" on earth. Via Warren Throckmorton's invaluable Web site, comes this quote from the Christian Reconstructionist Bojidar Marinov, who writes of why "theonomists," as Reconstructionists define themselves, should root for Ron Paul:
The theonomic solution to the problems of sodomy and abortion can not be achieved at the Federal level because at that level liberals outnumber conservatives 20 to 1. And theonomic Christians are almost non-existent at that level. It is only when the socialist state is dismantled and power returned back to the states and the counties that we will be able to successfully deal with the other social and moral issues. As long as sin is protected at the Federal level, our political job as Christians is to dismantle the Federal bureaucracy and return all power to the local communities. Therefore, the great battle is against the socialist state.
Given that, Ron Paul is the man with the best position to work for that goal on the national level.
Ron Paul's Christian soldiers march on -- perhaps straight to victory in Iowa.