According to media sources, President George W. Bush appears ready to nominate J. Robert Brame III to serve as a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), despite Brame's long-standing leadership of religious-political extremist groups on the farthest fringes of the Religious Right.
Brame has served as a top official of American Vision, an Atlanta-based group that seeks to replace America's secular democracy with a "Christian" regime based on "biblical law," including enforcement of the harsh legal code of the Old Testament. He has also served as an advisor to the Plymouth Rock Foundation, a Plymouth, Mass., group with similar views.
Brame recently resigned from the American Vision board after the group's controversial agenda became public. Though Brame served on the board since at least 1994, he told The Wall Street Journal that he was unaware of American Vision's extreme views.
American Vision has described democracy as "the first step toward fascism," argues that women must be subordinate to men and insists that the Bible requires the death penalty for gays.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a national church-state watchdog organization, said Brame's service with these groups, which are affiliated with the so-called "Christian Reconstructionist" movement, should disqualify him from a post in government.
"Brame and his allies seek to impose a harsh Christian theocracy on the nation," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "Someone with such radical political views should automatically be disqualified from holding public office.
"Once members of the Senate get a look at Brame's record, his chances for confirmation will quickly evaporate," Lynn added. "Brame's ties to radical groups are indefensible."
To illustrate the radical nature of Brame's views, Lynn pointed to the extremist positions of American Vision (AV), which Brame has helped lead through long-time service on the group's five-member Board of Directors:
On theocracy: Christian Reconstructionists reject democracy and advocate theocracy. In the June 1999 issue of American Vision's Biblical Worldview magazine, an AV representative wrote, "We've been told that Christians cannot impose their religious beliefs on others. Since heaven is at stake, we have no choice. There is no hope outside of Jesus Christ."
On democracy: The June 1999 issue of AV's Biblical Worldview magazine described democracy as "the first step toward fascism."
On women's role in families: American Vision insists that the Bible requires male leadership in society. In the September 1999 issue of Biblical Worldview, an AV author wrote that women fall between men and animals in the "God-ordained order." AV places "God above all, man joyfully under God, woman lovingly under man, and the animals at bottom." AV has also said that women should not serve in the military.
On women in the judiciary: The Plymouth Rock Foundation, which Brame has worked with through service on its advisory council, opposed Sandra Day O'Connor's nomination to the Supreme Court because, in their view, it is wrong for a woman to sit in judgment over men.
On homosexuality and the death penalty: Reconstructionist groups such as those Brame is involved with maintain that under biblical law, homosexuals must be executed. According to one American Vision text, "The law that requires the death penalty for homosexual acts effectually drives the perversion of homosexuality underground, back to the closet, to the dark realm of shameful activity." Also, in October 2000, an AV publication called homosexuality "a sin worthy of death."
On gays in Congress: In the September 1999 issue of the group's Biblical Worldview, an AV author referred to openly gay Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) as a "lesbian Congressthing."
On non-Christian dissenters: American Vision argues that once its worldview is enacted as government policy, dissenters would have to submit to its draconian version of Christianity. "Non-Christians would not be forced to become Christians, but they would have to obey laws that came from the Bible," according to one AV text. "This would mean that homosexuality and abortion, for example, could not be claimed as 'civil rights.' They would be crimes."
On Judaism: American Vision sells a book titled, "The Days of Vengeance," which says, "The god of Judaism is the devil." The book also describes Judaism as a "demonic religion."
On American history: AV materials take a revisionist approach to history, insisting that the United States was founded as a "Christian nation." In one book, AV asserts that the Constitution was designed to afford protection to Christianity only and not other faiths. "The First Amendment had the specific purpose of excluding all rivalry among Christian denominations," the group says. "Other competing religions were not protected by the First Amendment."
"Brame makes Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson look liberal," said AU's Lynn, who wrote to Bush in October, urging him not to nominate such a divisive figure to the NLRB.
Concluded Lynn, "The groups Brame is associated with seek to impose their version of 'biblical law' on all of us, and they want to use the government to further those goals. These views are so counter to American ideals that it is difficult to imagine a proponent of this radical philosophy serving in any important public trust."
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.