We Take South Carolina
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 tianExodus.org are tired
of such government-endorsed sins, they have come up with an
If you go to their website, this is what you will find:
ChristianExodus.org 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
ChristianExodus.org 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 ChristianExodus.org, that
“them” is the United States government, hoodwinked by liberals
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.
Theocracywatch.org 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
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
ChristianExodus may be needlessly over-eager to condemn the
government. If they just sit tight, they may not need South