During the Y2K craze - happening as it did in one of our simpler times as a species - there were all sorts of people who were actually looking forward to the unlikely event of all of the world’s computers crashing at the same moment, so that they might help usher in a new era for humanity - an era driven by fear and dominance of the Outsider.
As I occasionally watch 2012 “documentaries” on the History Channel (though honestly - once you hire Larry the Cable Guy? It’s way past time to change your network’s name) and on Planet Green (home of environmental ghost/UFO shows) it has occurred to me that many of the same crowd are eager for the End of All Things As We Know Them.
Christian Reconstructionists - Sharia Law on steroids. God forbid any of us should ever be in their clutches.
I wrote this story in 1999, just weeks before the Y2K disaster struck, and life as we knew it came to an end. It can also be found in my book Ozark Mosaic, which is dandy summer time reading.
The Doomsday Seekers: A look at Christian Reconstructionism
Area man belongs to apocalyptic cult
Gary North doesn't grant interviews, especially this close to January 2000, which he clearly believes may be a watershed event in the history of the human race. Yet despite his reticence, the Y2K “expert” lives an active life on the Internet, posting massive listings detailing what to expect should the fears and fantasies of Y2K doomsayers (including North himself) in fact, occur. For many, especially those who only know him by these writings, he is a rational, well-informed man who claims his only goal is to help people prepare. Yet, there is another Gary North inhabiting the same body, one whose beliefs and goals might serve to bring more apprehension to his neighbors in Northwest Arkansas than all his Y2K prophecies put together.
North, who received a Ph.D. in history from the University of California in 1972, has long prophesied impending doom. Whether it be the energy crisis, AIDS, or now Y2K, North has been on hand, telling us how to prepare. And, in truth, his website devoted to the so-called Millennial Bug is nothing short of impressive. A lot of very solid advice exists on the site, along with predictions that have so far failed to materialize.
For example, North prophesied that long before New Year's Eve, the world stock markets would have crashed. No matter, North is convinced that the world must end, and he is eager for it to happen. Be it Y2K, stock market crash, or any other disaster, what will emerge (in North's fantasies) is a harshly Calvinistic religious dictatorship.
For Gary North, most of humanity is one big Enemies List. Jews, Buddhists, Roman Catholics, atheists, Muslims. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, many extremist groups have links to his website, one notable group being the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations.
Another effect of North’s site is to provoke fright in those who read the information contained there, and that is because Gary North wants us to be scared. The only question is, should we be scared of what North is warning against, or worried about Gary North?
Y2K and other predictions of the collapse of life as we know it aside, North is well-known as one of the leaders of the so-called “Christian Reconstructionist” movement. It is the hope of many Reconstructionists to create a religious dictatorship in the United States. And while the collapse of society may well provide an occasion for that dictatorship to arrive, some Reconstructionists believe it can be achieved without a disaster occurring first. In fact, North is the son-in-law of one of the cult’s founders, R.J. Rushdoony, and is considered to be one of the most militant of its adherents.
Exactly what sort of world would it be for those “lucky” enough to survive? Women, of course, would pretty much have the roles assigned from the start. Home schooling, giving birth (a lot), and staying away from any position of authority over men. North has written that women who have abortions should be executed along with anyone who advised them to have the abortion. And the method of execution? Well, stones have North’s vote, since they are cheap, and are easy to get your hands on. Conceivably, this might be an activity the entire CR family could enjoy. One CR writer also claims the superiority of stoning because stones are ecologically correct.
Well, if you aren’t one of the anointed ones, you may end up as a slave. But not to worry, according to some Reconstructionist thinkers; the Biblical slavery rules were actually lenient. True, the master is allowed to beat the slave, and if the slave happens to die a day or so after the beating, the master would not be charged with murder, since there was no evidence that the master had actually intended to kill the slave.
As Gary North himself has written, in The Sinai Strategy: Economics and the Ten Commandments: “The integrity of the family must be maintained by the threat of death.”
As to the intentions of the Christian Reconstructionists (who only see themselves as carrying out God's work, after all), North has written, “So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality . . . then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religions of the enemies of God.” - The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right, 1982.
As for the codes of punishment under Gary North's idea of Heaven on Earth, Jacob Adler, who teaches philosophy and Biblical Hebrew at the University of Arkansas, says, “There is not enough evidence to enable us to know how these laws were applied when they were first codified. An important point, though, is that it is always a mistake to take a law code literally if you do not know how it was actually applied by people who used it.
“We do have evidence from the rabbinic period - around the beginning of the Christian Era - as to how the laws were enforced. The standard of proof for a capital crime was set so high that it was almost impossible to obtain a conviction. For example, one had to prove by two witnesses that the defendant was warned that he was about to commit a capital offence, and that the defendant replied, ‘Yes, I know, but I intend to do it anyway.’ The Talmud says, ‘A court that executes one person in seven years is considered a bloody Court.’ To which some other rabbis respond, 'One in seventy years.’”
There will be no other Christians than the sort approved by CRs. Death or slavery would seem to be the only options. Of course, who wants an old or infirm slave? One can only imagine the stone throwing storms should this “dominion” ever take hold.
Much ado about nothing?
It would be easy to dismiss North (and all too many have made the mistake of doing so) because his views seem so at odds with those held by mainstream society. Yet, for the past several decades, there have been hundreds of small churches across the country devoted to becoming God’s fanatics. These are truly “men with a mission.”
There is seldom, if ever, any public debate over the ideas within the CR ranks. Secrecy is the watchword. Yet, there are comical incidents. According to “The Public Eye,” North has been caught donating Reconstructionist books - particularly his own - to various university libraries, pretending to be an anonymous donor.
Some may not have the patience to wait . . .
Of course, the public might well react in alarm, should the Reconstructionists move openly. Some in the movement believe that they will dominate the Earth only after Christ’s return. Others believe that they might be able to initiate the “second coming” of Jesus Christ by becoming dominant over all of the human race. Already, many in their ranks have sought public office, school board positions, and roles as police officials.
At what point, the question must be asked, would CRs leave legal means behind, and act outside the law? At the very least, even if Y2K doesn’t occur, Gary North stands to make some money, which is always nice. For $129 you can subscribe to his newsletter, The Remnant Review, which he has been issuing for 22 years. North moved to Northwest Arkansas some time ago because of the weather, and the availability of properties to buy with natural gas wells. In addition, he wanted access to a conservative Presbyterian church, and to the library at the University of Arkansas.
But if society were to collapse, Gary North wouldn’t want to serve alone, would he? One can be forgiven for asking whether he has brought any like-minded friends to the area. Or managed to convert some locals to his point of view. Like many states, we have a locally situated militia, which stands ready to keep the “peace,” should society collapse.
Other prominent CRs include Randall Terry (of Operation Rescue), and Paul Hill, who murdered two people at an abortion clinic in Florida some years ago. At least one militia, the Wisconsin State Militia, has used an almost literal version of the tenets of CR in several of their training manuals.
CR has been compared to a “stealth theology,” in that its adherents so rarely move in the open, and when they do, they leave their CR hats (but not their beliefs or goals) at the door. As stated above, already a number of CRs have been elected to positions across the United States.
Another evangelical leader with a doubtful reputation is reportedly planning to live in Arkansas next year. Bill Gothard, founder of the Character First program, is said to be eyeing our area with favor. Fayetteville residents will recall the recent furor over the “City of Character” program. Though not linked with Christian Reconstructionists, he teaches similar philosophies.
A man whose financial empire is figured at $30 million, Gothard sounds eerily like Gary North, as he wrote to his followers, “Now, more than ever, God has placed you and me in a position where we can turn the tide of American history . . .”
Regardless of whether Y2K occurs on January 1, men like North and Gothard will not go away. They and their followers will still be with us.
Waiting . . .
Ozark Gazette - December 13, 1999