On January 4, 1991, the Freedom Writer's Skipp Porteous appeared as a guest on "Sound Off" hosted by Paul Gonzales on Superstation WSB in Atlanta, Georgia. The program was scheduled in response to the December 1990 issue of the Freedom Writer.
Gary DeMar, a leading Christian Reconstructionist, was also invited to speak on the program, and joined the broadcast during its second hour. DeMar is a member of the Coalition on Revival's (COR) steering committee, and addresses the topic of Christian activism at the group's conferences.
Paul Gonzales outlined the radical agenda of Christian Reconstructionism as explained in the Freedom Writer, and mentioned that we published a partial list of COR members. Throughout the program, Gonzales continually emphasized that Skipp maintained that COR membership alone does not mean that one advocates all the tenets of Christian Reconstructionism.
The following is an excerpt of the interview.
PAUL: Just when you think you've heard it all, you tune into the Paul Gonzales show and you find out there's a group of Christian people — people that call themselves Christians — who advocate the execution of homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators, and I guess, women who have abortions.
SKIPP: Jay Grimstead, the head of COR, says, "The Bible has something like eleven reasons for capital punishment. Murder was one. Homosexuality, rape, kidnapping, were some of the others." And he said, "The actual punishments we don't have agreement on, but we think that homosexuality, and abortion, and pornography should be outlawed."
PAUL: Gary, we very much appreciate you joining us tonight on WSB.
GARY: Well, thanks for the opportunity, I appreciate it.
PAUL: How long have you been listening tonight, Gary?
GARY: Since the beginning.
PAUL: OK, what do you have to say to Skipp?
GARY: Well, I waited this long to see how many, I want to call them lies, but this is misinformation that Mr. Porteous has been sending out. He started off by saying the Coalition on Revival is a Reconstructionist organization. At first he said it was a "front" for Reconstructionism. I've been involved with the Coalition on Revival since its inception. It is not, and I'm going to repeat, is not a Reconstructionist organization. It does not advocate the things that Mr. Porteous is saying.
SKIPP: OK, you know who Dr. Jay Grimstead is?
GARY: Oh, sure. I spoke to him today.
SKIPP: Alright. Is he a Reconstructionist?
GARY: No, he isn't.
SKIPP: Alright. Well, listen, this is what he told me, and I quote him.
GARY: Let me get something straight. First of all, you have not defined Christian Reconstruction. You have defined certain distinctions that you say are Reconstructionist thinking. I have written a number of books setting forth detailed definitions of what Christian Reconstruction is. Even my Reconstructionist friends, and others who disagree with me, point to my books, The Reduction of Christianity and another book I wrote called The Debate Over Christian Reconstruction, as primers as to what Christian Reconstruction is. I have not heard you give an accurate definition of Christian Reconstruction. And yet you've been on the air for an hour and thirty-five minutes.
PAUL: Why don't you give us a definition?
GARY: The definition of Christian Reconstruction is simply this: That the Bible applies to every facet of life. That means, not just the judicial aspects of life, civil government as one example, but self-government, family government, church government, business, economics, every facet of society. The Bible has something to say about each of those things. Now, most Christian Reconstructionists, especially those of us who write, are into the scholarly avenue of research. That is, we look at the Bible and we say, what does it say about this particular issue? And then we set forth what we feel the Bible says about that issue. For example, the execution of homosexuals. We do not believe that homosexuals ought to be executed. The Bible doesn't say that homosexuals ought to be executed. Mr. Porteous claims to have been in the Pentecostal church and knows the Bible from cover to cover. The Bible doesn't say that.
PAUL: Alright, let me get a comment from Skipp.
SKIPP: I'm wondering how many pages he's torn out of the Bible? Listen, this is what Dr. Jay Grimstead told me, and I quote him accurately and exactly. He said, "We believe that God has given the Bible as a rule book for all society, Christian and non-Christian alike." And, he added, "I concur with most of the Reconstructionists matters. I am trying to help rebuild the society on the word of God, and loosely, that would be Reconstructionist orientation in anybody's book." Then, he also added, "The Bible had something like eleven reasons for capital punishment, and murder was one, and homosexuality, and rape and kidnapping were some others." This is what the leader of your group said, Gary.
GARY: Well first, he's not the leader of my group, and secondly, you...
SKIPP: What do you mean he's not the leader of your group! You say you're a member of COR. You're on the steering committee of the Coalition on Revival.
GARY: We're talking about Christian Reconstructionism. I'm a member of a number of different groups.
SKIPP: Well, you're on the steering committee of the Coalition on Revival. Jay Grimstead is the head of the group.
GARY: Let me explain. The Bible doesn't say that homosexuals should be executed. What it says is this: If two men lie together like a man and a woman lie together, they are to be put to death.
SKIPP: What the hell do you think that is!
GARY: Well, wait a minute. If a guy comes up to me and he says, "I'm a homosexual," that doesn't mean that he's to be executed. If you understand the scriptures, it says very clearly, if a man comes up to you and says, "I've murdered somebody," tha t doesn't mean that person ought to be executed.
PAUL: Oh, so what you're saying, Gary, is if you catch homosexuals in the act, then the Bible says to execute them.
GARY: The Bible lays forth the severest penalty. The severest penalty would be capital punishment for two men who publicly engaged in sodomy. Which would mean, that if that law were on the books — which it has been on the books in many states, and probably still is in many states in the nation today.
PAUL: Does it say publicly in the Bible?
GARY: Oh, you've got to have two witnesses. So, you're going to have at least two witnesses who would come forth and testify against two people who engaged in sodomy. Now, Atlanta is a pretty populous city for homosexuality. I would imagine that most people in this city, probably 99% of them, have never seen two people engaged in sodomy. But, if it did happen, the severest punishment that could come upon somebody would be capital punishment. It doesn't mean that has to be the punishment.
SKIPP: By capital punishment, you mean death.
GARY: Well, yes.
SKIPP: Now, there was a case a couple of years ago, and I believe it was Georgia, maybe it was another state...
GARY: It was Georgia.
SKIPP: Two men were seen by the police, because the police came in the house for a different reason, and saw them having sex, engaging in homosexual activity in bed.
SKIPP: They were arrested. So, you're saying that these two men, according to the Bible, could receive the death penalty?
SKIPP: Is that what you're saying?
GARY: First of all, remember, the Supreme Court upheld Georgia's law. Secondly, yes.
SKIPP: Secondly, yes! The Bible advocates the death penalty for homosexuals.
GARY: No, it doesn't.
SKIPP: Homosexual activity, excuse me.
GARY: For example, if a guy raped a seven-year old. He sodomized a seven year-old boy — the seven year-old boy is innocent.
SKIPP: No, no. You said two men, two men lying together.
SKIPP: The Bible says they should be executed.
SKIPP: Alright. So...
PAUL: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Would you condone that?
GARY: Condone what?
PAUL: If indeed this movement were to go right by the Bible as you just said a few moments ago, would you advocate two men being caught in a homosexual act being executed?
GARY: No. That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that the severest penalty...
PAUL: Wait a minute, now! You said the Reconstructionist movement advocates the Bible being very much a part of every aspect of society and you mentioned government.
PAUL: So then, if you indeed believe that, then you would have to believe that people caught in homosexuality should be executed.
SMPP That's biblical law.
GARY: They could be executed.
SKIPP: They could be.
PAUL: They could be.
PAUL: So, what are you saying here?
GARY: I just told you what I'm saying. That could be the severest penalty. Let me give you an example.
PAUL: Wait, before you get to that, now, you said, again, these are your very own words. You said, that this movement that you're involved with, advocates the Bible being used as a basis for everything in society, including...
GARY: Wait a minute...
PAUL: No, you wait a minute, please. If indeed that's the case, if you believe that, then you would be contradicting yourself if you wouldn't advocate homosexuals being executed for homosexual activity.
GARY: I want to make sure the listeners understand that when we talk about movement, are we talking about the Coalition on Revival, which is not a Reconstructionist movement, or are we talking about Christian Reconstruction itself? Which movement are you talking about?
PAUL: Yeah, but Gary, I'm understanding how you just very cleverly steered away from my point — that you would have to agree with the death penalty for people being caught in homosexuality.
GARY: I already agreed with you that that could be the severest penalty. I mean, I don't know how many times I have to tell you. Yes, I agree that the Bible lays the death penalty for two men who are engaged in sodomy in public. Yes.! don't know how many times I have to tell you before it gets through your head!
SKIPP: Does the Bible allow the same punishment for an abortionist?
GARY: If abortion were illegal, the question comes down to what punishment would there be for someone who performed an illegal abortion? Now, if the pro-life community is correct, which I believe it is, that a pre-born individual is in fact a human being, then the same rights are accorded to the pre-born child as a born child. Then the same punishment would occur for the doctor performing the abortion. So, the pre-born child is in fact a human being, and a born child is in fact a human being, therefore the same punishment prev ails. That is, if capital punishment could be brought on someone who killed a one day-old child, then the same punishment would occur with someone who killed a child in the womb.
PAUL: So Gary, you would agree that a doctor performing an abortion should receive capital punishment?
GARY: Obviously, if abortion were illegal, and he performed an illegal abortion and killed a pre-born baby the same punishment would apply. And, of course, we've got our own system today that very few people who commit murder actually suffer the death penalty. That could be the severest penalty, yes.
PAUL: So, now what our guest was saying at the top of the show, that people who are Reconstructionist believe in this, you have told us that the death penalty could be given to people who perform abortions, and the death penalty — your word is "could" — be applied under a Christian nation for people who are caught in homosexual acts. OK, how about adulterers?
GARY: You can take two cases out of the New Testament. It's interesting, though, when people don't believe the Bible, like Mr. Porteous, go to the Bible and takes cases out of it to support his position when it's convenient. And when it's not conve nient he lays the Bible aside. But let's take two cases. The first case is Mary and Joseph. As we know, Mary was with child, but Joseph hadn't known a woman, hadn't known Mary. That is, he hadn't had sexual intercourse with her. Now, what was he to suspec t? He was to suspect that she had committed adultery. Now, it says in scriptures that he decided to put her away, quietly, or secretly. That is, he was to proceed with a divorce without making it part of the civil court. That is, not making a charge again st her of adultery. Of course, an angel comes and explains to her that that which is conceived in her is not by man, but by the Holy Spirit. Now, the law in scriptures concerning adultery means that the innocent party has as [recourse] the toughest penalt y that could be brought on the guilty party, the death penalty. So, for example, if a woman had a husband who was a constant womanizer, and he just would not stop, she could bring charges against her husband for adultery, and the severest penalty could be , according to scripture, the death penalty. It wouldn't have to be, but it could be. Now, this would do a number of things. And again, I want to go back and underscore something. Most of the laws in the Bible were designed not so much to be implemented, but to keep people from practicing that particular behavior.
PAUL: Well, all laws are basically that way.
GARY: Right. Well, it was the same thing with homosexuality. When there were laws on the books that could punish homosexuality, it didn't do away with homosexuality per se, but it kept it hidden. Kept it in the closet.
PAUL: And again, back with the same question again. You're using the word "could" be, and if indeed the Reconstructionist movement ever made it in America, would you advocate these biblical principles being carried out, just like the execution of the adulterer? Just like the execution of the abortionist, and just like the execution of the homosexual?
GARY: Well, I believe, like Mr. Porteous does, in the democratic process. Of course, these laws couldn't be brought into the legal system unless people actually wanted these laws.
PAUL: But, if indeed enough people who have your belief system get into that, and people vote for all of this, then you would go along with these strict penalties?
GARY: I'm saying that they could be implemented, yes.
SKIPP: You are working toward that goal, though, aren't you?
GARY: Not necessarily, no. This is what usually happens when you're researching in an area. Mr. Porteous has taken probably one-tenth of what we actually do, and he has blown it up like an inflated balloon and he says, "This is what Christian Reconstruction is."
PAUL: What I'm going to do is give our two guests the final six minutes to debate a little bit, and all you people on the phones, I'll get to you to give your opinion. Skipp, anything you want to say to Gary?
SKIPP: Yeah, Gary, could you give us your viewpoint on the separation of church and state?
GARY: Well, first of all, the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, says nothing about a separation of church and state. The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercising thereof." Which simply means, that our national government cannot establish a national church. Typically, what's happened in our day, the courts, and other things, they have interpreted that to mean that nothing religious can be involved in any sort of civil decision. And I just think that that's just erroneous. Any fourth grader who knows anything about history, knows as a fact that religion was always incorporated into decision-making policies. Prayer, Bible-reading, laws based upon scripture principles have no violation under the First Amendment. At the time of the drafting of the First Amendment there were nine states that had established state religions. I'm not advocating that, but obviously the First Amendment does not mean what Mr. Porteous and other advocates of church/state separation...
SKIPP: Gary, Jay Grimstead told me that "the goal of a number of us is to try to Christianize the state of California." Then he said, "the church is not supposed to try to take over the government of San Jose. The people who take over the government of San Jose are American citizens who happen to be informed by the Bible on what is justice and what is injustice. The Bible controls both church and state." Would you agree with Dr. Grimstead on that statement?
GARY: That the Bible is a law book for both church and state? Yes, but that's different than saying that church and state are merged by the Bible. The Bible is very specific about a separation between church and state. And I recommend that you read my Ruler of the Nations to see how I've laid out, very specifically, in great detail, what the Bible and what the Constitution says about the principles. I'm getting the impression listening to you and debating this topic, and writing on this topi c for over ten years now, that most of the critics of Christian Reconstruction haven't read what Reconstructionists have written. And Paul, to give you some idea, we have nearly one hundred books on the market right now, very easily available to anyone wh o wants them, to go in and look and see what we have to say. I'm amazed that Mr. Porteous misunderstands very clear statements in our books what we mean by separation of church and state.
SKIPP: Well, Gary, earlier you accused me of lying about many things I said tonight, but in the last twenty minutes or so, you've confirmed everything I've said.
GARY: No, because at the beginning of the show you claimed — and it was very clear what you were doing — the Coalition on Revival is a Reconstructionist movement, and then you said that these people, the LaHayes, Wildmon, and so forth, should leave this organization because this is a Reconstructionist organization, and it isn't. I've been on some of even the drafting documents, and anything that even hinted at Reconstructionist distinctives were left out because the people didn't agree with them. Now, how can you say it's a Reconstructionist movement when I was there? I was in the drafting document on government. And there isn't anything about what you're saying about Christian Reconstructionist distinctives in that drafting document. So, to say then that the Coalition on Revival is a Reconstructionist organization, when its documents have none of the particulars of Christian Reconstruction in them, specifically the one on civil government, is a bald-faced lie.
SKIPP: Well, I happen to have some of those documents myself, and I'm also going by what your leader Jay Grimstead said, that he is a Reconstructionist and he agrees with most of the Reconstructionist doctrines.
PAUL: And wait, I've got to say something here so that we don't run out of time. You did say that our first guest, Skipp, mentioned that the Bible principles should be applied to society, in your viewpoint. And you did say that...
GARY: All Christians agree with that!
PAUL: Yeah, but most Christians don't think that capital punishment could be applied to people caught in homosexual acts, or could be for adulterers, or whatever.
GARY: Paul, this is one thing that I want to say...
PAUL: And that's what he said at the top of the show, for all intents and purposes. You agreed with that!
GARY: But see, Christian Reconstruct... what he's saying about Christian Reconstruction is one-tenth of one percent of Christian Reconstruction.
SKIPP: The one-tenth I'm speaking about is the worst part of it.