North subscribes to an ultra-ultra-fundamentalist religious ideology called “Christian Reconstructionism,” which aspires to establish a global Christian theocracy and reinstitute all of Old Testament law. I am not exaggerating.
North, who has been lurking around the fringes of the libertarian community for decades, has reemerged from his cave to pen a homeschooling curriculum under Ron Paul’s name, based “first and foremost” on “biblical principles.” (Tom Woods, who has done some writing for Dr. Paul before, is also involved in the project.)
Paul’s involvement in the project appears to be minimal, and statements allegedly from him on the curriculum site are written in the style and voice of Gary North (peppered with transparently self-conscious first-person references to remind the reader that this is really Paul, not North, speaking).
The site itself appears to be modeled, if not an actual clone, of North’s own subscription website. For instance, “Ron Paul’s” 100% guarantee reads a lot like North’s own, and the domain RonPaulCurriculum.com was first registered in 2010 to “GaryNorth.com, Inc.” The fee for the curriculum is $25 to start, $250 a year after that, plus $50 per course. (I notice that for all the grousing about “worthless fiat money,” he still expects to be paid in dollars.)
While none of this is wrong in itself (high-profile people often lend their names to their friends’ projects — and it is North’s project), parents should be concerned about about Gary North, and what his agenda is in educating their children. North has been quite explicit about this in the past, and he laid out his ultimate goals in an article in Christianity and Civilization, which you can find on his website:
Everyone talks about religious liberty, but no one believes it.
So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government.
Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.
North wrote this totalitarian screed in 1982, but, as he said then, he’s playing the long game: “It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow from the hearts of a majority of citizens.”
Although he despises the notion of religious liberty, he accepts its use as a strategic deception (“As a tactic, it is legitimate; we are jockeying for power. We are buying time”) until he and his fellow Reconstructionists are in a position to seize power and destroy the “enemies of God.”
After using homeschooling and Christian schools to indoctrinate an army of fundamentalists ready to abolish secular government, what sort of state does North advocate putting in its place? Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Taliban have probably come closest to North’s ideal Christian government.
Walter Olson summarized people who can expect to die under the Reconstructionist regime:
Those who would face execution include not only gays but a very long list of others: blasphemers, heretics, apostate Christians, people who cursed or struck their parents, females guilty of “unchastity before marriage,” “incorrigible” juvenile delinquents, adulterers, and (probably) telephone psychics. And that’s to say nothing of murderers and those guilty of raping married women or “betrothed virgins.” Adulterers, among others, might meet their doom by being publicly stoned…
Say what? Children should be killed? According to North, this isn’t just acceptable, it’s mandatory. In his book The Sinai Strategy*, he writes:
When people curse their parents, it unquestionably is a capital crime (Ex. 21:17). The son or daughter is under the lawful jurisdiction of the family. The integrity of the family must be maintained by the threat of death.
“By the threat of death”: there’s some traditional family values for you. He goes on to explain that “taking the Lord’s name in vain” is a comparable offense to talking back to your parents, and therefore must also be punished by death, before wandering into a weird discussion of what the proper legal response is to “cursing” in general:
Then is there a general prohibition against cursing? On what grounds could a church prosecute a cursing rebel? … A curse is a threat: calling the wrath of God down upon someone. … Restitution could be imposed by the civil magistrate to defend a church or an individual who is victimized by cursing.
He suggests that if someone then curses at the “civil magistrate,” public flogging (“up to forty lashes”) is an appropriate response. And so on. Bear in mind, this is not a historical analysis of what these laws meant to the ancient Israelites — this is his interpretation of what Scripture requires of Christians today.
And did you catch that bit about “being publicly stoned” earlier? That is not a metaphor. Oh no, North is an enthusiastic promoter of public and communal executions by hurling rocks at people until their brains are bashed in and their bodies lie battered to a pulp. N
Why stoning? There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost. Second, no one blow can be traced to any person. In other words, no one citizen can regard himself as “the executioner,” the sole cause of another man’s death. Psychologically, this is important; it relieves potential guilt problems in the mind of a sensitive person.
… Those who abstain from the “dirty business” of enforcing God’s law have a tendency to elevate their behavior as being more moral than the executioner’s, where in point of fact such abstention is itself immoral. … Executions are community projects — not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do `his’ duty, but rather with actual participants.
Translation: “First, it’s cheap, and with so many people to kill, you’ll need to be economical. Second, if you’re ‘sensitive’ about the prospect of beating a child to death with a rock, it’s really better to do it as part of a group, so you don’t feel ‘guilty’ about doing God’s ‘dirty business.’ Those stuck-up humanists think they’re better than us infanticidal lunatics, but we know it would be wrong not to participate in gruesome and ritualistic murder! But most importantly, have fun — executing blasphemers is really about bringing the whole community together.”
He concludes by explaining western civilization’s rejection of stoning and capital punishment as “God-hating humanistic concepts of justice” replacing “the infallible Old Testament” (how dreadful that would be). By North’s account, “God-denying economists” have somehow convinced Christians that a violent mob bludgeoning someone to death with rocks in the town square is “sinister” (can you imagine?):
That modern Christians never consider the possibility of the re-introduction of stoning for capital crimes indicates how thoroughly humanistic concepts of punishment have influenced the thinking of Christians.
If humanistic concepts of punishment have persuaded Christians that there was something sinister about the Old Testament’s specified mode of execution, then we should not be surprised to discover that humanistic concepts of justice, including economic justice, have also become influential in the thinking of Christians.
Christians have voluntarily transferred their allegiance from the infallible Old Testament to contemporary God-hating and God-denying criminologists and economists.
If this doesn’t seem like the tame, gentle Christianity you’re familiar with, that’s because Reconstructionists reject the idea that Jesus somehow repealed or replaced Mosaic Law. Olson explains:
American evangelicals have tended to hold that the bloodthirsty pre-Talmudic Mosaic code, with its quick resort to capital punishment, its flogging and stoning and countenancing of slavery, was mostly if not entirely superseded by the milder precepts of the New Testament (the “dispensationalist” view, as it’s called). Not so, say the Reconstructionists. They reckon only a relative few dietary and ritualistic observances were overthrown.
So all those pages and pages of killing and beating and torturing that you’re accustomed to skipping over in the early pages of your Bible, that’s all still required, according to North and the Reconstructionists. Even the hardcore evangelicals are scared of these guys.
It is abundantly clear that Gary North does not have a clue what about constitutes a civil society. This is a man whose worldview is so violent, bigoted, intolerant, homophobic, sexist, dogmatic, and bloodthirsty that it makes the Ku Klux Klan look like the NAACP. I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting my children in the same room with him, much less pay him money to indoctrinate them with his views on government, Western civilization, and the Bible. A man with North’s history would be more appropriate as a guest lecturer at the Westboro Baptist Church than a representative of classical liberalism.
We don’t know what the “Ron Paul Curriculum” will consist of yet, but if history is any guide, Dr. Paul should be more careful about picking his ghost writers and what he chooses to lend his name to. I certainly hope this project doesn’t turn out to be another ugly, public scandal for the libertarian brand — and maybe it won’t — but it would be behoove Dr. Paul and Dr. Woods to extricate themselves from their involvement with North before they find themselves “training up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government.”