The destruction and death of the Christian faith is planned and in progress by our humanistic statist establishment. This is to be a destruction by indirection, i.e., by regulation, licensure, and controls. Step by step, the controls are to be introduced and extended.
Recently, the Ohio Department of Public Welfare published a new set of “Proposed Rules Governing Licensure of Day Care Centers.” These rules propose to license and control all church nurseries, Sunday Schools, Vacation Bible Schools, “church-operated” day cares, and “church-operated” preschools. These rules would make the Welfare Department the governing board over all these church activities.
Lest it be assumed that this problem is unique to Ohio, it should be added that like plans are under way in other states. In one major state, a welfare department official has stated that all Sunday Schools will have to be licensed and controlled as child care facilities if even one child attended at any time without his or her parents. (The same rule would apply to a church service.)
But this is not all. In all fifty states, child control plans are being readied, to be introduced piece-meal in some cases, which undercut the family, the church, and the Christian School. The goal of these plans is religious, i.e. humanistic in faith: the purpose is to create a new generation. This new generation is not to be created through rebirth in Christ but by separation from the old corrupt generation and family, with its pollution of Biblical faith. In one state, “health” homes are proposed for all children, the implication being that the family is an unhealthy home.
This ties in with the recent insistence on giving recognition to the “voluntary” family, i.e., any group of lesbians, homosexuals, runaway youths, or a sexual commune.
The child control plan includes a two-year national service requirement of all youth, male and female, between the ages of 17 and 19.
The obviously fascist direction of all this is clear. Fascism is that form of socialism which retains the forms of freedom, of private property, and the church, while totally controlling every area of life and activity to accomplish the same statist goals of socialism. We should not be fooled by the professed horror of the establishment for Hitler and Mussolini. The fact fact is that the real patron saint of virtually all modern states is Mussolini.
Roland Huntford, in The New Totalitarians, describes clearly and accurately, in terms of Sweden, what this new totalitarianism (and fascism) is. The older model of the totalitarian state is the Soviet Union, a model in sorry internal disarray and decay. Its instrument of power was terror, total terror. However, with respect to its more able citizenry, even the Soviet Union is using the newer model, psychiatric brainwashing and punitive medicine (See Chalcedon Medical Report No. 8, and my article in the January, 1981 Chalcedon Report on the medical model versus the moral model in law). This new totalitarianism relies on a state school system to control and brainwash the people, on the medical model of law, on the regulation and control of every area of life while maintaining the form of freedom, and so on. It is the new totalitarianism, a development of the old fascism. All over the world, it is on the march, and one of its main targets is Biblical faith.
The church is being reclassified steadily in the United States, as a part of this control, as a charitable, not a religious, trust. The position of the Internal Revenue Service, and, for example, of the California Franchise Tax Board, is that the Sixteenth (Income Tax) Amendment ended the First Amendment immunity of the church to taxation and control. There is thus, it is held, no longer a constitutional immunity from taxation, only a statutory one, revocable at will. Since the Sixteenth Amendment made no exemption for churches, an income tax can be assessed against them if the state so wills (November 5, 1979, statement of the California Franchise Tax Board to Calvary Baptist Church of Fairfield, California).
As a charitable trust, the church would be required to drop all discrimination with respect to race, color, sex, sexual preference, or creed. The church, it was held, in the case against the Worldwide Church of God, belongs to all people, and its assets, funds, and properties must be used for all the people, not just the members or believers. This will mean integration: an equal number of men and women in the pulpit and church boards; it will mean the integration of lesbians and homosexuals into the church staff and pulpit. It will also mean equal time for all creeds: the church will have to give equal time to humanism, Buddhism, Mohammedanism, occultism, and more.
This charitable trust doctrine goes hand in hand with another doctrine, the public policy doctrine. This is held by the I.R.S. and various local, state, and federal agencies. Whatever is contrary to public policy is thereby not entitled to tax exemption, nor to a free exercise of faith, i.e., to any legal existence. Thus, if abortion and homosexuality are held to be public policy, no group has a “right” to tax exemption, or to maintain its legal freedom to pursue and uphold its “discrimination,” but must assent to these policies. No better blue-print for totalitarianism has been ever devised than this public policy doctrine. It is with us now. There is a law-suit to remove the tax-exempt status of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States for its stand against abortion.
In other words, this is total war, and we had better believe it, and make our stand.
Together with all this, there is a campaign under way to give a new meaning to the First Amendment and the separation of church and state. Almost every day, the press carries attacks on the recent role of the church on the political scene. It is plainly stated that tax exemption requires silence on the part of the church, and that separation of church and state requires no comment on anything political by the church.
The fact is that the purpose of the First Amendment was to keep the church free to exercise its prophetic role with respect to the state and other areas of life. The clergy demanded the First Amendment because they knew that an established church is a controlled church; a controlled church is a silent church, and usually a corrupt one as well. The election sermon was then a routine fact before civil elections. The church was the prophetic voice of God, spoke to every area of life, including the state, bringing God’s word to bear on all things. (See Chalcedon Position Paper no. 16, “The Freedom of the Church.”) For the church to be silent is a sin, and it is a denial of its calling, and a forsaking of the very purpose of the First Amendment. The freedom of the church to apply God’s word, God’s law and moral requirements, to the state is necessary for the health and welfare of the stale and society. Today, as in ancient Israel and Judah, where evil rulers sought to silence the voice of the prophets, so now evil and anti-Christian rulers again seek to silence the prophetic word of God, and the church, the ministry of that word.
To be silent in such a time is to deny the Lord, abandon the faith, and concede to the enemy.
Another thrust of statist action against the church is to limit the scope of the First Amendment immunity of the church. It is implied or stated that only the “purely religious” activities are under First Amendment “protection.” This is very narrowly defined to mean little more than the liturgy of worship. The Christian School is called “educational.” So too is the Sunday School. But it does not stop there. It has been implied that the sermon too is “educational!” This would remove all of these from any immunity from control.
This is, of course, the goal: control. Let us remember that more people are in church on any given Sunday in the United States than have ever voted in a national election. These people are a tremendous and potential source of power. That power began to manifest itself in the 1980 U.S. election. It promises to do more in 1982. This can spell the death of humanistic statism.
But this is not all. We may not agree with all the preaching on radio and television, but we do know this, there is a great deal of it! The preaching congregation is thus far, far greater than the very considerable number who are in church. It includes millions more, and many of these listen daily. This is a frightening fact to the enemy.
It should not surprise us that the 1980 election was preceded and followed by a very extensive newspaper and magazine attack on the church. Ironically, the church was portrayed as the new fascism by these champions of fascism! Such publications as Playboy and Penthouse joined in the attack, as did former Senator McGovern.
The saddest part of the story is the role of the pietists in the church. The more serious the battle becomes, the more they avoid it. Their idea of moral courage is to attack all those who are fighting for the freedom of the faith. These men seem to believe that spiritual exercises are a substitute for the obedience of faith. They try to vindicate their position, and their flight from battle, by stressing their super-holy exercises and their refinement (not application) of doctrine. In some cases, these men will involve themselves in the battle—by appearing as witnesses against Christian brothers on trial. They do not hesitate to slander the men under fire, nor to cross over to the other side of the road (Luke 10:31, 32); they want no “contamination” from the world.
The state is a religious fact. The state is, in fact, the oldest religious institution in world history. Baal means lord, or master, and Baal worship was state worship. Molech worship was a form of Baalism; Molech (or Moloch, Melek, Milcom, or Malcolm) means king; Molech worship, declared by God to be a very great abomination, is a form of state worship.
The state from antiquity has claimed to be lord, or sovereign. This is a religious claim. It is an assertion of divinity and ultimacy. For this reason, the early Christians refused to be licensed by Rome, which involved declaring that “Caesar is lord” or sovereign. Instead, they declared, Christ is lord over Caesar, not Caesar over Christ.
The conflict of church and state ever since has been over this issue. Wherever the state claims sovereignty, it claims, after Hegel, to be god walking on earth. The modern state is the heir of Rome and Baal-states in its claims to sovereignty.
The U.S. Constitution broke with European civil theologies by avoiding totally the use of the word sovereign. For the founding fathers, as John Quincy Adams later stated, that doctrine belongs only to the Lord God of Hosts, not to man, nor to civil government. The American civil system thus began with a religious rejection of sovereignty.
Nothing more clearly reveals the extent of apostasy and theological decline than the fact that almost no churches challenge the civil doctrine of state sovereignty as anti-Christian and blasphemous. Certainly, it is an example of the claim to be God; clearly, the attempt to control and govern the church (and to compel it to become an instrument of humanism) is something which should remind us of II Thessalonians 2:4: “he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” Christ is Lord; He alone is head of the church; His word alone can govern and command the church. For the state to claim that right is to declare itself to be man’s true savior and lord. It means arrogating to the state the prerogatives and powers of none other than Jesus Christ. For any churchmen to be silent in the face of this is a denial of Christ.
For the state to attempt to license, regulate, control, or tax the church in any of its activities is for the state to usurp the powers and office of Jesus Christ. We cannot render unto Caesar that which belongs to God alone.
We have slipped by easy stages into the compromise which has made this evil possible. The church, we have been told, must serve man; it must be “responsive to the needs of the people.” The goal has been to make the church more “democratic,” more people and experience oriented and less theologically and Biblically governed. More than a few churches have boasted of “serving the needs of the community.” Having been long governed by man, and by man's needs, the church has trouble seeing any problem in being governed by the state.
Perhaps the most powerful (and evil) movement in the church today is “liberation theology,” a form of Marxism. In the name of human need and hunger, “liberation” theologians seek to liberate the church from God and to enslave it to man and the state. Given this softening of the faith and theological mind of the church, the readiness to surrender in many quarters is understandable. Men who do not know the Lord will have no problem bowing down before, or surrendering the church to, the only lord they know, the sovereign or Baal state. Before Gideon could free Israel, he had to reject Baalism (Judges 5:25).
In the Ohio situation, the Proposed Rules to control Sunday Schools, etc., exceed the statutory authority given to the Ohio Welfare Department. The same situation prevails in numerous other states. As a witness for Christian Schools, churches, and other Christian agencies, I have seen state officials acting with little regard for, and often little knowledge of, their own department's code, as established by the state (or federal) government. Their very obvious position is this: they see their office as a blank check to exercise total power. They thereby plainly assume the sovereignty of the state. Any resistance to them is seen by them as evidence of evil intent. These officials immediately assume dark and evil motives on the part of the resisting Christians: illegal goals, financial mismanagement, abuse of trust, and so on and on. A servile press, which depends on statist news handouts for its materials, echoes these charges with impunity.
There is no way out of this solution except with the Lord. He alone can triumph. The time has come to attack the very gates of hell: they cannot prevail, or hold out, against our King (Matt. 16:18).
- R. J. Rushdoony
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.