SPLC: Christian Reconstruction Group Cruises ‘Patriot’ Waters
by Evelyn Schlatter
American Vision is a hard-line Christian Reconstruction organization whose current leader, Gary DeMar, has said that democracy should be replaced by a theocratic government run by Christians who will impose Old Testament prohibitions and the occasional executions of “sodomites” to drive gay people back into the closet. It’s no surprise, then, that American Vision has involved itself over the years with anti-gay and anti-abortion causes.
Lately, however, it has branched out and seems to be testing its message in the antigovernment and conspiracy-laden “Patriot” waters. Literally.
The group is co-sponsoring a January 2012 “Patriot Cruise” that will, according to a promotional webpage, transform participants’ abilities to defend their faith and the country’s foundations, and help them learn how to convert others who oppose “the truth by which we stand.”
During the weeklong cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s 1,020-foot Mariner of the Seas, participants will “explore what Americans really believe” in the learning environment of a “masters [sic] level teaching classroom and the energy of a Town Hall meeting.” Other sponsors include the Patriot Depot (which sells anti-Obama T-shirts and other “supplies for the conservative revolution”) and a Gary DeMar side project, Vision2America, which is working to “restore America to a Christian republic.”
“No conference on land,” American Vision claims, “will equip you for opposing the godless apologists of the liberal machine.”
So far, in addition to DeMar, there are four “On Board Leaders” (other speakers to be announced). The others are Alan Keyes, former presidential candidate and birther who works with the Declaration Alliance (which supported the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps); speaker and author Bill Federer of American Minute, who has appeared on conspiracy-monger Alex Jones’ show; and Tea Party activist Victoria Jackson, once known for her six seasons on Saturday Night Live but currently known for her anti-gay, anti-Muslim and anti-liberal slams; and birther Gary Kreep, a former national board member for Young Americans for Freedom. Kreep also lists himself as unpaid general counsel to the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. The MCDC closed down in March 2010, though its website remains.
Can’t make the cruise and need a Patriot fix? The American Vision store carries the Patriot-friendly tract Gateway to Liberty: The Constitutional Power of the Tenth Amendment, as well as a 2011 Firearms Guide and another guide called Disaster Prep 101. You can also pick up some copies of the young adult novels The Drums of War, a series about the Revolutionary War.
American Vision is also tailoring its Christian Reconstructionist rhetoric to more Patriot and Tea Party-sounding calls to “restore America.” Its website currently posts a “County Rights” project, a series of articles by research director Joel McDurmon (soon to be available in video and book) that tell readers how to “restore freedom” by taking control of local (i.e. county) governments and establishing the kind of community that reflects their values.
In one article, titled “State’s Rights: How to Get Freedom Back,” McDurmon gives a shout-out (but is quick to claim it’s not an endorsement) to the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC), a driving force behind so-called “nullification” movements to undo or weaken federal laws that proponents don’t like. Though he claims not to endorse the TAC, he nevertheless lists 12 issues that the TAC is working on, including “Sheriffs First” laws against “unwarranted federal policing activities” and freedom from federal gun regulations. He calls the list “impressive” and proceeds to explain how nullification might be a strategy to undoRoe v. Wade at the state level.