Remarks by a leading figure closely associated with the Christian Coalition have fueled more accusations of anti-Semitism within that organization.
John Stoos, former head of the 55,000-member California Gun Owners Lobby, frequently represents and speaks for Sara DiVito Hardman, executive director of the California Christian Coalition.
Although Stoos is widely speculated to be a board member of the California Christian Coalition, no evidence confirming that has surfaced. According to the state office of charitable trusts, the California Christian Coalition has filed no records since 1991 — an apparent violation of state law.
Speaking at a February forum sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Social Policy of Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union, Stoos revealed that Jews would probably feel out of place in the Christian society he and others are working to implement. Stoos' comments apparently cost him his job with the gun owners group.
"There is no such thing as a pluralistic society," Stoos was quoted as saying in a write-up of the forum published in The Contra Costa Times. "You can't say we are all going to agree to disagree and go on our way because that [leads] to relativism and chaos."
Those quotes are relatively benign. What got Stoos into trouble was his statement that American society should be founded on Christ's kingship and Biblical law. Stoos also said that Jews and other non-Christians would be "tolerated." His comments were challenged by Marty Kassman of the ACLU, who is also a board member of the American Jewish Congress.
"I don't wish to be tolerated in this country," Kassman said. "I was born in this country. I don't think it is any more your country than mine. Or any more a Christian's country [than] a Jew's."
Stoos shot back that in the Christian society he envisions "you would not have total acceptance. You would feel more at home in Israel."
These remarks may seem shocking, but they came as no surprise to those who have followed the rise of the Christian Coalition and the radical Religious Right.
Stoos is a Christian Reconstructionist and one of the most astute Republican political strategists in California. His credentials and connections read like a who's who of the radical Religious Right and social conservative politics.
Stoos started out as a aide to retired State Senator H.L. (Bill) Richardson, himself a former John Birch Society field organizer (and radical Religious Right person before there was a radical Religious Right). Stoos heads up the California chapter of Newt Gingrich's Conservative Opportunity Society, which this year raised nearly $300,000 to help elect social conservatives to the California legislature. He is also a vice president of the California Republican Assembly, the largest Republican volunteer organization in the state.
Stoos, along with Republican campaign consultant Wayne Johnson, attends Covenant Reform Church in Sacramento. Johnson sits on the board of trustees of Chalcedon, the country's leading Christian Reconstructionist think tank.
The statements Stoos made at the forum are similar to the ones he made during a conversation with this writer as our plane sat on a Sacramento runway awaiting departure for Los Angeles. Stoos was seated in front of me, and I tapped him on the shoulder to introduce myself.
We made some small talk about our opposing political views and then I said, "You know, I have been reading [R.J.] Rushdoony and I don't see that in Rushdoony's society there is much room for Buddhists, Moslems, Jews, or atheists."
He replied with a chuckle, "Well, Rush would say it is better to obey God's 600 laws than man's 6000 laws." Then, with another chuckle, he continued, "No, there would be room for Buddhists. I just don't know how much."
At that point our plane started to take off and we terminated our conversation and did not speak during the rest of the hour it took to get to LA. Besides, I was fascinated by the book I brought along to read on the flight: The Blue Book for Grassroots Politics: Proven, Election-Winning Strategies for Supporters of Traditional Values Candidates.
Stoos' position on religious minorities in the society he envisions are based on the theology of Christian Reconstructionism which would reconstruct society from a democracy, which Rushdoony refers to as a "heresy" into a theocracy. Rushdoony has matter of factly written in The Institutes of Biblical Law, his 1500-page, two-volume treatise on the Ten Commandments:
"Every social order institutes its own program of separation or segregation. A particular faith and morality is given privileged status and all else is separated for progressive elimination [emphasis added]."
And: "Every faith is an exclusive way of life; none is more dangerous than that which maintains the illusion of tolerance."
The Christian Reconstructionist society would have no tolerance or illusion thereof. Such a society would be intolerant not only of other other religions, but homosexuals or anyone who deviated from societal rules and values. Only "godly" families would be permitted to continue to live in a "Christian" society. All others would fall into one of the 18 categories of capital crimes and would be dealt with by being stoned to death.
In his book Victim's Rights, Rushdoony's son-in-law Gary North writes that stoning is a communal activity, something in which all the members of the family can participate. The purpose of this communal activity is to instill fear in the community so that if they deviate from the theocratic rules laid out by the elders, stoning would be their fate.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote: "It is not necessary that every individual fighting for this philosophy should obtain a full insight and precise knowledge of the ultimate ideas and thought processes of the leaders of the movement. What is necessary is that some few, really great ideas be made clear to him, and that the essential fundamental lines be burned inextinguishably into him, so that he is entirely permeated by the necessity of the victory of his movement and its doctrine. The individual soldier is not initiated into the thought processes of the higher strategy either. He is, on the contrary, trained in the rigid discipline and fanatical faith in the justice and power of his cause, and taught to stake his life for it without reservation."
What Stoos has done with his comments is to betray the higher strategy of the radical Religious Right leaders by revealing that a Christian America would be intolerant of all but the fervent faithful.
Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson and the Free Congress Foundation's Paul Weyrich, among others in the radical Religious Right, have sold their faithful followers on a few "really great ideas." Abortion is wrong, unborn babies must be saved at all costs, and baby killers must be punished. Sodomites must be driven from the land. Prayer and the teaching of creationism must be restored to public schools.
In the last two years we have seen a few foot soldiers be willing to die or at least suffer prison time for acting upon some of these "really great ideas." Rest assured, in the coming years more incidents of violence will occur as more foot soldiers are recruited from evangelical churches to become Christian soldiers in their citizen militias until America will, once again, be in the midst of a civil war.
Right now, sitting comfortably in their sanctuaries, most churchgoers haven't a clue as to what their leaders are up to. Not once have they stopped to think or ask the question, "It's a Christian America, now what?"
Maybe — if they really listen to men like John Stoos and got up off of their blessed assurance to read the likes of Rushdoony and North — they will be repulsed and take a stand for true tolerance. Maybe then, America would truly become a land with liberty and justice for all.
Jerry Sloan is co-chair of the Sacramento-based Project Tocsin, the research branch of the newly formed Sentinel Institute for Research and Education.