Yesterday, I reported that Omaha pastor and Christian reconstructionist, Phil Kayser, endorsed Ron Paul for President. I pointed out that Kayser advocates the death penalty as viable for gays, juvenile delinquents and those committing other biblical offenses. Paul enthusiastically accepted the endorsement and, in turn, endorsed Kayser’s assessment of Paul politics. Kayser claimed that Paul’s views were the closest to biblical teaching of any of the other candidates. After Talking Points Memo posted an article about the endorsement, the Paul campaign removed the press release touting the “eminent” pastor’s endorsement.
Although the Paul campaign has not commented on the removal of the endorsement, it seems clearly connected to the adverse press generated by publication of the minister’s views on the death penalty. One might argue that Paul did not know of the minister’s views. He has claimed that he did not know about the racist and bigoted material that went out in newsletters bearing his name in the 1980s and 90s. He would probably claim he did not know Kayser’s views.
This seems implausible to me for two reasons. One, my impression as an evangelical is that Kayser is not well known outside of Christian reconstructionist circles. The Paul campaign’s description of Kayser as “eminent” is curious given that he teaches at a very small theonomist college and he does not pastor a well known mega-church. Someone with the campaign clearly researched his background and decided to glowingly tout the endorsement.
Second, Ron Paul ties to Christian reconstructionism go back a long way. Prominent Christian reconstructionist, Gary North, worked for Paul in the 1970s and periodically writes in glowing terms about Paul. North also favors the death penalty for homosexuality, adultery and other offenses listed as warranting death in Mosaic law.
In a 2007 article, North compared Paul to Mahatma Gandhi, writing on the same website where Paul also prolifically posts, North claimed:
What has this to do with Ron Paul, who is running for President? At least this much: he also opposes violence, he also opposes empire, and he also believes in the long run that justice will prevail. So, he does what Gandhi did. He keeps telling the story of how a better society can be built, must be built, and will eventually be built when men reduce their commitment to violence as a way of shaping the world. This includes violence committed by the civil government.
They called Gandhi the mahatma: the great self. Ron Paul is the mahatma of self-government.
Earlier this month, North a suggested speech for Ron Paul’s inauguration in 2013. It is clear that North, a consistent reconstructionist, believes Ron Paul is promoting a message which resonates with reconstructionism. The message now is essentially the same message now as when North worked for Paul in the 1970s. North wrote on December 21:
In June of 1976, I was Ron Paul’s speechwriter. Shortly after I joined his staff as his newsletter writer and economic analyst, I recommended that he do what I had been doing for a year: buy a Code-A-Phone telephone answering machine and make a weekly 3-minute recording for people in his districts to call. He could send the tape to his office in the district, where the machine would be set up at a local phone number. Residents could call it for free. He thought this was a good idea. So began his weekly speeches.
I wrote his first talk. He later told me that he didn’t like reading a script written by anyone else, so he had decided to record his own. As far as I know, that was the last speech anyone ever wrote for him.
He used that machine for the next two-and-a-half years. After his defeat in November 1976, he posted a weekly phone message. The weekly report became a tool for a comeback. In 1978, he defeated the man who had barely defeated him (268 votes) in 1976.
North was briefly a staffer for Paul when Paul was first elected to Congress and wrote his newsletter (I wonder if Gary North knows anything about those Ron Paul reports). Given this background, Kayser’s endorsement is really not at all out of the ordinary for Paul. I could be wrong, but I think Paul’s views are shaped and driven by a belief that central government is the enemy of freedom and prosperity. As I understand him, Paul wants all politics that matter to be local, allowing states and local governments to decide how to handle matters of private conduct, such as sexuality, drug use, marriage.
I think this rejection of a strong central government is what brings Paul and reconstructionists together, and has for a long time. Paul apparently believes laws criminalizing homosexuality are faulty but he defends the rights of local jurisdictions (e.g., Texas in the Lawrence v. Texas case) to determine via legislation how to handle such things. Reconstructionists, such as Kayser in Omaha, want freedom from the central government to apply biblical law to willing local jurisdictions. Apparently, that is ok with Dr. Paul, unless of course, saying it out loud hurts him politically. In that case, the endorsement just goes away.