Monday, May 29, 2006

Patrick Henry College and Dominion

A picture of Patrick Henry College (PHC) taken from Affordable Building Concepts

Last week on Fresh Air Terry Gross interviewed Patrick Henry College's Michael Farris. I highly recommend listening to the interview, first for all the usual reasons to do with listening to an excellent interviewer such as Terry Gross, and second because if you listen to Farris you realize that whatever this guy may be he's not a foaming at the mouth zealot who makes no sense and shouldn't be taken seriously; Farris and those like him need to be taken very, very seriously.

Two weeks ago Gross had Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism to discuss Christian Nationalism. I've just started the book myself but Farris has no small part in it, at least in the Introduction titled "Taking the Land":

Michael Farris, the founder and president of the evangelical Patrick Henry College, calls his campaign to turn Christian homeschooled students into political cadres Generation Joshua. The name has a very specific biblical and martial meaning. Joshua was Moses's military commander and successor as leader of the Israelites; while Moses brought his people out of Egypt, Joshua led them in seizing the holy land. Farris's Generation Joshua has a less bloody mission, but it is imbued with an Old Testament dream of exile redeemed by conquest. The holy land is America as Farris imagines it. The enemy is America as it exists now.

And then on the next page:

What Farris wants is a cultural revolution. He's trying to train a generation of leaders, unscathed by secularism, who will gain political power in order to subsume everything -- entertainment, law, government, and education -- to Christianity, or their version of it. That might sound like fantasy, but it's worth pondering what Farris has accomplished so far.

Goldberg then goes on to detail how PHC, with an overall student population of about 500, has the highest placements of interns, 7%, of all colleges/universities in the U.S., with the exception of Georgetown. Generation Joshua students, not just PHC students, actively work on the campaigns of politicians they believe will support the PHC agenda - this certainly is their right and there's no question of this, but we're talking about people working on issues that are equivalent to what the Taliban imposed on the Afghanis, though with a Christian flavoring. These aren't people out there simply demonstrating, they are very much intertwined into our political system and are very much interested in using that system to project and impose their Christian perspective.

It's worth being aware of this so that we don't kid ourselves into thinking that there aren't people out there who don't believe in the secular foundations of the Constitution, who believe that this is a Christian nation destined to carry out Christ's work, and who are very much interested in all of us living under the Christian version of Sharia, the Islamic flavored legal system imposed in many Muslim countries. Farris and those who believe like him want to take over this country in a very real sense, and in the course of this completely change what many of us take for granted as fundamental freedoms and inalienable rights. Don't think that these people are out there roaming the streets proclaiming the imminent end of the world; no, they're out there working to end your way of living and what you're expected to believe, and they're very, very serious about this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Michael Farris and his beliefs equal "Taliban." Aren't they those innocent-people-torturing, head-decaptitating, journalist-hating, blowing-up-historical-artifact types?

For the sake of argument, let's assume you would like promote environmentally "greener" policies in our political system by promoting such policy preferences through the schools in which you teach. Shall I cry to the world that you are an environmental terrorist who burns new cars in car lots, or new construction? Of course not.

The fact is that there are extremists in any belief system, but I'd hardly characterize Farris' opinions as extreme.

Rather than stifle discussion with the fallacy of guilt by association (i.e. associating extremist beliefs far in excess of Mr. Farris' stated opinions) try arguing against points or beliefs he has actually said. Debate his beliefs on their merits, not on the Taliban's beliefs :-)

Perhaps you need to relax and "tolerate" "his kind" as much as he must tolerate "yours."


3:12 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Gee, I must have hit a nerve, especially when I make the comparison between Farris and company and the Taliban quite clear. You see I allude to Farris, et al., being Taliban-like. Now when such a comparison is made the reader/listener normally tries to determine what are the similarities. If I were to say monkeys are like people a reasonable person not responding to something a bit close to home would think, "Ah, yes, monkeys are social, they have close-knit communities, they tend to stand on two feet, they use tools, yes, indeed, I can see the similarity", which would establish the reasonableness of the comparison. They don't go into "Heck, no way, monkeys have body lice, they mostly like to eat bananas and ants, they smell funny, and are overly inclined towards public acts of masturbation - nothing alike there." You seem to be in the latter group, either unable to see the comparison in spite of it being pointed out, or otherwise not liking the comparision. I'm quite sure that were Farris and company the beheading, etc., type, they'd be in prison here, so how you'd jump to that comparison is indicative of either obtuseness or a desire to take where I'm coming from to a place I wasn't going.

The "likeness" between the two has to do with a proclivity towards religious fascism - where the Taliban hang out the extremes of this are more readily accepted, or code of conduct hereabouts is a bit higher, fortunately due to the fact that we've managed to take God out of the business of meting out Earthly retribution for one's sins. The Taliban see themselves as agents of God, and I have little doubt that Farris and those with him are likely similarly delusional; that's something to be afraid of.

No you wouldn't categorize Farris's beliefs as extreme, and I'd go so far as to suspect you likely share many of his beliefs. Frankly they are extreme to me, especially when you ponder a statement like:

"The holy land is America as Farris imagines it. The enemy is America as it exists now."

Not Farris' exact words, of course, but I happen to like America as it is, with all its faults and blemishes, and all its freedoms and tolerance, and have no desire to find myself having to deal with intolerant Christians who'd like nothing better than to tell me what I can or cannot do based on their beliefs. They're entitled to those beliefs, I fully support their believing anything they want, but when it comes down to religion being imposed on me I have a huge problem. So the issue isn't tolerance of me for them, I am not against what Mr. Farris believes as it applies to him and his, but rather when he is in a position to impose what he believes on me and mine - there's no reason why anyone would be expected to be tolerant of this, especially in a country where our government is specifically built on an understanding that there'd be no dominant religious role in the business of government.

Now frankly the difference between diehard evangelicals like Farris and the Taliban is quite possible a matter of degree. Let's face it, if you buy into Farris and company's belief, Christ gets to come down again and kill all the non-believers - the Taliban, unrestricted by the secular code of law we have here, have simply decided not to wait.

10:54 PM  

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