Subject: The invasion of the theocrats
For God's Sake
By PAUL KRUGMAN
April 13, 2007
In 1981, Gary North, a leader of the Christian
Reconstructionist movement -- the openly theocratic wing
of the Christian right -- suggested that the movement
could achieve power by stealth. "Christians must begin
to organize politically within the present party
structure," he wrote, "and they must begin to infiltrate
the existing institutional order."
Today, Regent University, founded by the televangelist
Pat Robertson to provide "Christian leadership to change
the world," boasts that it has 150 graduates working in
the Bush administration.
Unfortunately for the image of the school, where Mr.
Robertson is chancellor and president, the most famous
of those graduates is Monica Goodling, a product of the
university's law school. She's the former top aide to
Alberto Gonzales who appears central to the scandal of
the fired U.S. attorneys and has declared that she will
take the Fifth rather than testify to Congress on the
The infiltration of the federal government by large
numbers of people seeking to impose a religious agenda
-- which is very different from simply being people of
faith -- is one of the most important stories of the
last six years. It's also a story that tends to go
underreported, perhaps because journalists are afraid of
sounding like conspiracy theorists.
But this conspiracy is no theory. The official platform
of the Texas Republican Party pledges to "dispel the
myth of the separation of church and state." And the
Texas Republicans now running the country are doing
their best to fulfill that pledge.
Kay Cole James, who had extensive connections to the
religious right and was the dean of Regent's government
school, was the federal government's chief personnel
officer from 2001 to 2005. (Curious fact: she then took
a job with Mitchell Wade, the businessman who bribed
Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham.) And it's clear
that unqualified people were hired throughout the
administration because of their religious connections.
For example, The Boston Globe reports on one Regent law
school graduate who was interviewed by the Justice
Department's civil rights division. Asked what Supreme
Court decision of the past 20 years he most disagreed
with, he named the decision to strike down a Texas anti-
sodomy law. When he was hired, it was his only job
Or consider George Deutsch, the presidential appointee
at NASA who told a Web site designer to add the word
"theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, to leave
open the possibility of "intelligent design by a
creator." He turned out not to have, as he claimed, a
degree from Texas A&M.
One measure of just how many Bushies were appointed to
promote a religious agenda is how often a Christian
right connection surfaces when we learn about a Bush
There's Ms. Goodling, of course. But did you know that
Rachel Paulose, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota -- three
of whose deputies recently stepped down, reportedly in
protest over her management style -- is, according to a
local news report, in the habit of quoting Bible verses
in the office?
Or there's the case of Claude Allen, the presidential
aide and former deputy secretary of health and human
services, who stepped down after being investigated for
petty theft. Most press reports, though they mentioned
Mr. Allen's faith, failed to convey the fact that he
built his career as a man of the hard-line Christian
And there's another thing most reporting fails to
convey: the sheer extremism of these people.
You see, Regent isn't a religious university the way
Loyola or Yeshiva are religious universities. It's run
by someone whose first reaction to 9/11 was to brand it
God's punishment for America's sins.
Two days after the terrorist attacks, Mr. Robertson held
a conversation with Jerry Falwell on Mr. Robertson's TV
show "The 700 Club." Mr. Falwell laid blame for the
attack at the feet of "the pagans, and the abortionists,
and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians," not
to mention the A.C.L.U. and People for the American Way.
"Well, I totally concur," said Mr. Robertson.
The Bush administration's implosion clearly represents a
setback for the Christian right's strategy of
infiltration. But it would be wildly premature to
declare the danger over. This is a movement that has
shown great resilience over the years. It will surely
find new champions.
Next week Rudy Giuliani will be speaking at Regent's
Executive Leadership Series.