If you happen to be wandering around the Georgia statehouse on Sept. 13, you might think you’ve stumbled into a church meeting rather than a place of public business.
Next month, a Georgia-based organization known as American Vision will hold an event called “Georgia’s Christian Heritage Day” at the statehouse in Atlanta. The program will offer participants a tour of the building, as well as an opportunity to meet with state lawmakers. At least one, Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville), is scheduled to address the group.
American Vision says that the motivation behind this event is simple: to educate people about the state’s “Christian history.”
“We often speak about the Christian heritage of America in general, but few people know how that was manifested in the individual states,” American Vision said on its website. “American Vision invites you to come for a day of discovery as we uncover some of the lost, obscured, and untold Christian history” of the state of Georgia.
Topics of conversation at the event include “How Homeschooling Became Legal in Georgia,” “The Christian Founding of Georgia,” “The Christian Heroes of Georgia” and “How a Bill becomes Law in Georgia.”
With the exception of learning about how a bill becomes law, everything about this is wrong. The statehouse should be a place for conducting public business, not a platform for the spread of misinformation by a sectarian organization.
As Americans United has explained many times, America was not founded to be a Christian nation. By association, Georgia was not founded to be a Christian state. In fact, it was originally intended to be a place of rehabilitation for those unfortunate enough to find themselves in British debtors’ jails.
Then there’s the fact that American Vision isn’t your run-of-the-mill Religious Right organization. On its website, the group says its goal is “to Restore America to its Biblical Foundation –from Genesis to Revelation.”
In fact, American Vision leaders subscribe to the Christian Reconstructionist viewpoint, which means they advocate taking control over the United States and running it as a fundamentalist theocracy.
Reconstructionists advocate a particularly shrill version of “biblical law,” and a whole range of people would be candidates for the death penalty – homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators, witches, incorrigible juvenile delinquents and those who spread false religions, just for starters.
American Vision President Gary DeMar downplays his guiding theology’s most over-the-top manifestations, but it still creeps out frequently. For example, he has said the Bible calls for the execution of gay people.
This kind of extremism has led the Southern Poverty Law Center to identify American Vision as a hate group.
American Vision recently defended U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who said “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy. Akin has since been called on by Democrats and Republicans alike to drop out of the race for a U.S. Senate seat, but American Vision dismissed Akin’s comment as merely “unfortunate.” The group said Akin is himself a victim of “political gang rape.”
It is deplorable that such a radical group is given carte blanche to hold a day-long event in a state capital with the blessing of lawmakers.
Sadly it seems to be a growing trend that sectarian groups are being encouraged to hold events at statehouses. Just last week, we told you about a three-day “transforming revival” workshop that had been scheduled to take place in the main chamber of the Kansas House of Representatives. Fortunately that event was moved to another venue thanks to complaints from Americans United and the news media.
Hopefully raising the issue will encourage Georgia lawmakers to follow Kansas’ lead.