"a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellious children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21"
-- Republican Charlie Fuqua, from his book God's Law
"I think my views are fairly well-accepted by most people" -- Charles Fuqua, as quoted by the Associated Press
It has rapidly migrated from the Arkansas Times
- which has broken
the story about a controversial book written by Republican candidate for the Arkansas Legislature Charlie Fuqua - to the Huffington Post
, but so far media has not identified the most astonishing aspects of Fuqua's suggestion, in his e-book God's Law: The Only Political Solution
, that rebellious children should executed in accordance with Deuteronomy 21:18-21.
First, Fuqua is not advocating just any form of execution. By citing those verses from Deuteronomy, candidate Fuqua is recommending stoning rebellious children to death. Here is the scripture Fuqua cites, Deuteronomy 21, verses 18-21, from the King James Version of the Bible:
"18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear."
Next, Fuqua's view that the American legal system should be based on Biblical Law identifies him as a type of Christian Reconstructionist. On Fuqua's website for his book, he explains,
"Everything that is wrong with the United States will be corrected only when we turn back to the Biblical principles followed by our founding fathers. The prophets of the Bible told Israel that the nation would suffer as a result of disobedience to God’s law. It is no different today. God made the universe and the laws that govern it. Disobedience of those laws always produces bad consequences."
As journalist Frederick Clarkson described, in a seminal 1994 article written for Public Eye
magazine, a publication of Political Research Associates, titled Christian Reconstructionism: Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence
"[Christian] Reconstructionism seeks to replace democracy with a theocratic elite that would govern by imposing their interpretation of "Biblical Law." Reconstructionism would eliminate not only democracy but many of its manifestations, such as labor unions, civil rights laws, and public schools. Women would be generally relegated to hearth and home. Insufficiently Christian men would be denied citizenship, perhaps executed. So severe is this theocracy that it would extend capital punishment beyond such crimes as kidnapping, rape, and murder to include, among other things, blasphemy, heresy, adultery, and homosexuality.
Reconstructionism has expanded from the works of a small group of scholars to inform a wide swath of conservative Christian thought and action."
Among the crimes identified by Christian Reconstructionists as deserving the death penalty (by stoning) is also juvenile deliquency. Stoning disobedient children is, needless to say, slightly controversial, even among leaders of the hard religious right. As a brilliantly satiric 1998 essay pulbished in the libertarian magazine Reason
, by Walter Olson, titled Invitation to a Stoning: Getting cozy with theocrats
"For connoisseurs of surrealism on the American right, it's hard to beat an exchange that appeared about a decade ago in the Heritage Foundation magazine Policy Review. It started when two associates of the Rev. Jerry Falwell wrote an article which criticized Christian Reconstructionism, the influential movement led by theologian Rousas John (R.J.) Rushdoony, for advocating positions that even they as committed fundamentalists found "scary." Among Reconstructionism's highlights, the article cited support for laws "mandating the death penalty for homosexuals and drunkards." The Rev. Rushdoony fired off a letter to the editor complaining that the article had got his followers' views all wrong: They didn't intend to put drunkards to death."
Rousas J. Rushdoony held many notable positions, including a rejection of the Copernican model of the Solar System (he was a Geocentrist
.) That position provoked a bitter dispute with Rushdoony's son-in-law Gary North, who cleaved to the modern theory espoused by Copernicus and Galileo. But both men were in accord about stoning. As Olsen's Reason
article acerbically described,
"when Exodus 21:15-17 prescribes that cursing or striking a parent is to be punished by execution, that's fine with Gary North. "When people curse their parents, it unquestionably is a capital crime," he writes. "The integrity of the family must be maintained by the threat of death." Likewise with blasphemy, dealt with summarily in Leviticus 24:16: "And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him."
Reconstructionists provide the most enthusiastic constituency for stoning since the Taliban seized Kabul. "Why stoning?" asks North. "There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost." Thrift and ubiquity aside, "executions are community projects--not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do `his' duty, but rather with actual participants." You might even say that like square dances or quilting bees, they represent the kind of hands-on neighborliness so often missed in this impersonal era. "That modern Christians never consider the possibility of the reintroduction of stoning for capital crimes," North continues, "indicates how thoroughly humanistic concepts of punishment have influenced the thinking of Christians." And he may be right about that last point, you know."
Charlie Fuqua's positions track quite closely with those typical of Christian Reconstructionism along another spectrum as well - Christian Reconstructionism embraces a form of radical economic libertarianism in which the proper function of government is restricted to mainly to the spheres of defense and basic policing but little else. As Fuqua puts it, on his website
" If government gives all of us security in our social status (social security), it takes away our ability to excel or fail. As more of us get economic security from our government, rather than from our productivity, we become more insecure as a nation. This is because more and more of us lose the motivation to work to avoid poverty.
...Our founding fathers realized that government was a necessary evil. It is vitally important that we understand both aspects of that statement. Government is necessary to restrain the evil inclinations of individuals who would harm others for their own gain."
As described by researcher Rachel Tabachnick, in an article which maps out Christian Reconstructionism's growing influence at the level of state legislatures, Rushdoony's Theocratic Libertarianism at Work in the Nation's Statehouses
, Tabachnick writes,
"The foundations of Christian Reconstructionism were laid by the late Rousas J. Rushdoony in his prolific writing including his major tome, Institutes of Biblical Law and promoted through his Chalcedon Foundation. Reconstructionism teaches that all institutions of society and government must be reclaimed from "humanists" and reconstructed on the basis of biblical law. Reconstructionists claim that the unfettered free markets are biblically mandated. In other words, God is the invisible hand behind laissez-faire capitalism and government intervention is putting faith in man instead of God. Reconstructionist leaders have overlapped significantly with two other organizations that have sacralized radical free markets - Lew Rockwell's Ludwig von Mises Institute, which promotes Austrian School economics, and the John Birch Society."