Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, Assistant Director of Operation Save
America, is worried. According to studies by the Barna Research Group,
California pollsters specializing in tracking religious and spiritual
attitudes, only nine percent of teenaged Christians believe in moral absolutes.
What’s more, Barna reports that the vast majority of kids raised Christian will
abandon all or part of their faith by the time they finish high school.
“Assembly of God leaders estimate between 65 and 70 percent will depart, while
the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life estimates roughly 88 percent will
leave,” Thomas writes.
To remedy this, Thomas’ Elijah Ministries has started the
Kingdom Leadership Institute, a weeklong ideological boot camp for
home-schooled Christians between the ages of 14 and 21. His recently released
book, The Kingdom Leadership Institute
Manual, is a roadmap for their training and a fascinating—if twisted—look
at the concerns of far right evangelicals, complete with a game plan for
There’s no pussy-footing in Thomas’ screed. For him the
battle between God and Satan is at hand, pitting True Believers against Sinners.
Common ground? Impossible since there are only two sides, one resulting in
heavenly salvation and the other ending with the earth’s destruction.
“Life is not a playground,” he rails. “It is a war zone—a
clash of ideas, philosophies, values, and worldviews. It demands leaders who do
not shrink back in [sic] the day of battle.” He calls it “spiritual warfare”
and repeatedly summons images straight out of the Middle Ages, with gallant Knights
protecting grateful maidens, and courtliness trumping gender equity.
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Contemporary equals bad, he rants. “During Colonial times,
children would be up at four in the morning to help with chores; spoke only
when spoken to by an adult; and by the age of seven or eight, boys had chosen
their craft or trade and were ready to become apprentices. What a contrast
compared to the unruliness, laziness, and lack of direction that characterizes
many in this generation.” One can
only wonder about the regimen imposed on the good reverend’s 13 children and
As Thomas sees it, the crisis facing today’s young people is
a direct result of American secularism– you know, those pesky rules separating
religion and government. In his
telling, the lead culprit is the Supreme Court which has usurped God’s legal
authority, outlawing prayer in schools, sanctioning abortion and gay rights,
and allowing infidels—AKA Muslims—to live freely among us.
Remember Alabama Judge Roy Moore? So does Thomas, and he is
still smarting from Moore’s 2003 comeuppance. Moore—one of Thomas’ few heroes—had posted the 10
Commandments in the Rotunda of the state Judicial Building, something most
folks—Christians and non—saw as a violation of church/state separation. Not
Moore. Given a choice between
removing the Commandments or losing his job, he chose the latter which
demonstrates, says Thomas, how far the Godly have fallen in the US of A.
Thomas’ solution for changing this and returning American
youth to the Christian fold is straightforward, if absurd, and starts with home
schooling. Women, he writes,
should quit working for money and instead work on inculcating “Christian
values”, including male supremacy, in the next generation. “A patriarch is a
family ruler. He is the man in charge,” Thomas begins. “Biblical manhood
demands men … defend and shield or cover women from injury, evil or oppression.”
Not surprisingly, Thomas puts forward an essentialized view: Men are logical,
women emotional and spiritually attuned. Feminist challenges to this monochromatic
definition are anathema to nature, he charges. Worse, they challenge the male
birthright to establish a “dynasty” at home.
Yep, you read right. A dynasty.
“Feminists charge that Christianity promotes a patriarchal
religion, which oppresses women and steals their potential. Although it is true
that Christianity is patriarchal, the function of true patriarchy is to protect,
provide, and care for women and children. Biblical patriarchy is expressed as
chivalry,” Thomas writes.
You can almost see Thomas squirming at the idea of women’s
equality or the varied gender expressions feminists have championed. And then there’s his obvious discomfort
with power-wielding females. “A
woman can manipulate, dominate and control a man to the point that his manhood
is slowly eaten away like a cancer,” he raves. Finally, there’s the ultimate rightwing putdown: “Too many
women seek value by trying to become men, lead as men, and be aggressive as
For Thomas, the call is not only to criminalize abortion and
homosexuality, return prayer to the schools, get women out of the workplace, and
declare the U.S. a Christian nation, but also to impose Biblical rule on all
who reside within our national borders. Furthermore, he’s going for blood—and I
mean that literally. “Whether we like it or not, ours is a bloody religion,” he
explains. “Beginning with God slaying the animals to cover Adam and Eve after
the fall…to the final sacrifice by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, one theme
rings true. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.”
It’s hard to know whether this is an oblique reference to
murdering abortion providers or is a more literal reference to the war Thomas
envisions between his parishioners and everyone else.
But either way, Thomas’ fighting words are sure to unsettle
at least some of his youthful charges, sending them squarely into the arms of
21st century secularism.
I say a hearty amen to that. Hallelujah.