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First We Take South Carolina

Don’t get me started on government-endorsed sin.

Or, OK, get me started.

Take a look at our poorly-managed educational system, our sky-rocketing medical costs, our lack of an exit strategy for our troops, our growing poverty—to say nothing of the ways in which we have been misled on foreign policy.

But those aren’t the kinds of sins that keep the ChristianExodus people up at night.

No, other sins are more pressing: allowing “sodomite” marriages, for example. Banning school prayer. Teaching evolution. Infringing on our God-given right to keep and bear arms. Abortion. Banning the public display of the Ten Commandments.

So because the good people of Chris are tired of such government-endorsed sins, they have come up with an exodus plan.

If you go to their website, this is what you will find: is moving thousands of Christians to South Carolina to reestablish constitutionally limited government founded upon Christian principles. This includes the return to South Carolina of all “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States.” It is evident that the U.S. Constitution has been abandoned under our current federal system, and the efforts of Christian activism to restore our Godly republic have proven futile over the past three decades. The time has come for Christian Constitutionalists to protect our American principles in a State like South Carolina by interposing the State’s sovereign authority retained under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution will continue to move Christians into South Carolina until we possess a representative majority in both houses of the General Assembly. Such a strategy will make the sovereignty debate public, and the influence of our membership will tip the scales in favor of constitutionally limited government founded upon Christian principles.

Frankly, it’s hard to believe this is for real. On the other hand, a lot of things happen in this country that stretch the nature of credulousness. So it may well be that there is a group of Christians hell-bent (well, maybe not hell-bent) on colonizing a portion of South Carolina.

Can it happen? States’ rights is a powerful argument, but the Tenth Amendment seems designed more to make clear the constitutional limits of federal government’s power than to enlarge the power of individual states.

Nevertheless, it’s an important tool for those interested in pursuing localized theocracy, which seems to be the ChristianExodus aim. Because if you interpret the Tenth Amendment connotatively—or maybe just emotionally—it can be used to provide for a measure of insularity. It can be used to help foster a fortress mentality: us against them. In the case of, that “them” is the United States government, hoodwinked by liberals and secularists.

But for a lot of people unhappy with the role religion, and particularly evangelical Christianity, has been playing in the life of our nation, such hoodwinking seems not to be coming from liberals and secularists but from those whose desire is not so much for a localized theocracy—a bit of South Carolina—but more of a national one.

The states’ rights argument comes in handy as a first step. But to meet the goals of an evangelically-propelled national zeitgeist, states’ rights are just not going to be enough.

Christopher Shays, Republican representative from Connecticut, couldn’t have been more succinct when talking about the Congressional intervention in the Terry Shiavo case. He told The New York Times in March: “My party is demonstrating that they are for states’ rights unless they don’t like what states are doing. . . . This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy.”

Theocracies never work, but that never seems to prevent governments from giving them a go, anyway. And while ChristianExodus may find the U.S. government falls short in its theocratic aims, others fear that it is hell-bent on going too far. is a project out of Cornell University to raise public awareness of the role of the religious right in the United States government. Joan Bokaer, at Theocracywatch writes:


There is an inconsistency from leaders of the Religious Right between a belief in states’ rights, or minimal federal government, and a drive for control and domination of a nation. As a member of the Federalist Society and leader of the Religious Right, former Attorney General John Ashcroft espoused the value of states’ rights. His effort to overturn the state of Oregon ‘s Death with Dignity Law, however, demonstrates how quickly he will intervene in a State’s democratically legislated law when this law conflicts with his religious beliefs. Under Ashcroft’s leadership, much of the work of the Justice Department was focused on intervening in state laws.

And last July an editorial in the Washington Post reflected on the same trend, though saw it as a promising shift.


Only a few years ago, the Supreme Court appeared to be on the verge of gravely altering the balance of power between the federal government and the states. A string of opinions had restrained Congress’s authority and bolstered state power in a fashion that, while appealing in certain areas, was badly off-base and dangerous in others. What made the Court’s newfound interest in what is called “federalism” scary is that nobody knew where it would stop . . . But over the past year, the court has handed down a series of rulings that seem to indicate the limits of its enthusiasm for pumping up state authority.

What may have seemed promising news a year ago now seems a little threatening, especially as a new seat opens on the bench.

ChristianExodus may be needlessly over-eager to condemn the government. If they just sit tight, they may not need South Carolina.

—Jo Page

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