I wrote yesterday about David Barton’s plan for an American theocracy. Most people recognize Barton from the Texas Schoolbook Massacre and his reputation as a historical revisionist on a grand scale. Some might recognize him as a sort of spiritual guru to people like Michele Bachmann (who lets him teach classes on a Constitution neither of them know anything about) and Glenn Beck, who says he is “the most important man in America.” But Barton is also an anti-Semite with ties to white supremacist movements. Moreover, he is a proponent of biblical slavery.
On the WallBuilders website, home of David Barton, ideological advisor to both Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee, you will find an article by Stephen McDowell, a colleague of his, explaining the joys of biblical slavery. As Bruce Wilson writes on Talk To Action,
Christian Reconstructionism endorses “Biblical slavery” and founder of the movement R.J. Rushdoony expressed the sentiment that African-Americans were lucky to be slaves, writing, “Granted that some Negroes were mistreated as slaves, the fact still remains that nowhere in all history or in the world today has the Negro been better off.”.
It wasn’t that the Southern system was wrong, you see, for endorsing slavery; it was wrong because it wasn’t biblical slavery. And America awake!: R.J. Rushdoony asserts that what was permissible according to Biblical scripture is permissible now: including slavery.
As Wilson writes,
McDowell’s article cites R.J. Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law six times in its footnotes and that’s notable given that the book was Rushdoony’s master work on how to implement Biblical law in the American legal system. R.J. Rushdoony’s scheme included establishing stoning and burning at the stake for adultery, homosexuality, and idolatry, and the legalization of Biblical slavery. Leaders in the Christian Reconstructionism movement Rushdoony founded have for several decades now been trying to make it so.
And it’s for our own good, of course. According to McDowell:
God’s laws concerning slavery provided parameters for treatment of slaves, which were for the benefit of all involved. God desires all men and nations to be liberated. This begins internally and will be manifested externally to the extent internal change occurs. The Biblical slave laws reflect God’s redemptive desire, for men and nations.
Ah to be liberated through slavery! Why are we putting up any resistance at all to this wonderful plan? McDowell helpfully outlines the types of slavery allowed in this wonderful new world:
Types of Slavery Permitted by the Bible
The Mosaic law permitted some types of slavery. These include:
- Voluntary servitude by the sons of Israel (indentured servants)
Those who needed assistance, could not pay their debts, or needed protection from another were allowed under Biblical law to become indentured servants (see Ex. 21:2-6; Deut. 15:12-18). They were dependent on their master instead of the state. This was a way to aid the poor and give them an opportunity to get back on their feet. It was not to be a permanent subsidy. Many early settlers to America came as indentured servants. These servants were well treated and when released, given generous pay.
- Voluntary permanent slaves
If indentured servants so chose, they could remain a slave (Ex. 21:2-6; Deut.. 15:16-17). Their ear was pierced to indicate this permanent subjection. The law recognized that some people want the security of enslavement. Today, there are some people who would rather be dependent upon government to provide their needs (and with that provision accepting their commands) than do what is necessary to live free from its provision and direction. Some even act in a manner that puts them in jail, desiring the care and provision they get more than personal freedom.
- Thief or criminal making restitution
A thief who could not, or did not, make restitution was sold as a slave: “If a man steals . . . he shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft” (Ex. 22:1,3). The servitude ceased when enough work was done to pay for the amount due in restitution.
- Pagans could be permanent slaves
Leviticus 25:44-46 states: As for your male and female slaves whom you may have – you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen [brother], the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.
Obviously, this is a problem for Pagans like me:
“since unbelievers are by nature slaves, they could be held as life-long slaves” without piercing the ear to indicate their voluntary servitude (Lev. 25:44-46). This passage in Leviticus says that pagans could be permanent slaves and could be bequeathed to the children of the Hebrews.”
Permanent slaves. We’ve seen this before of course; it was applied to black Africans in the deep south: slavery because of who you are, not because of debt or criminal behavior, but simply because you are black, or now, in new and improved biblical slavery, because you are a pagan.
Wilson points to Rushdoony’s 1973 book Institutes of Biblical Law, in which he “explained how to implement Biblical scriptural directives in a modern legal system,”
“The (Biblical) Law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. It both requires that they be dealt with in a godly manner and also that the slave recognizes his position and accepts it with grace.”
Some people are by nature slaves. Of course, keep in mind, the obverse must then be equally true: some people are by nature rulers. Surely you remember the old Nazi paradigm of Üntermensch (under-man) and Übermensch (over-man or superman)? Yes, it is alive and well today in American Christian dominionism. And it’s not a fringe belief anymore. Remember, David Barton, who endorses this racist nonsense, was called one of the 25 most influential evangelicals by Time Magazine in 2005. Time characterized Barton as “a major voice in the debate over church-state separation” who, despite the fact that “many historians dismiss his thinking… [is] a hero to millions — including some powerful politicians.”
And that was in 2005. Now, in 2011, Barton is more mainstream than ever before, with a presidential contender in his pocket – Mike Huckabee, the head of the Tea Party Caucus – Michele Bachmann – and until recently, a FOX News personality – Glenn Beck, not to mention his influence in what passes for education in the great state of Texas.
A final word: Remember what the Constitution says: everyone – everyone – is equal before the law. What Rushdoony and by extension McDowell and Barton say is quite the opposite. In his Institutes of Biblical Law, Rushdoony says,
All men are NOT created equal before God; the facts of heaven and hell, election and reprobation make clear that they are not equal. Moreover, an employer has property rights to prefer whom he will in terms of “color” creed, race or national origin.
There is no way to package this teaching as based upon the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution or any of the recorded words of the Founding Fathers. There is no longer any pretense of patriotism for the 200+ year-old country known as the United States, but a devotion to a biblical society straight out of the Bronze Age that has never existed, and until now never imagined to exist, on these shores.