Institute on the Constitution: The American View or the Confederate View?

The website for the Institute on the Constitution is called The American View. As a result of taking his Constitution course, director Michael Peroutka claims that

students will become familiar with “The American View of Law and Government”:

  • There is a God, the God of the Bible

  • Our rights come from Him

  • The purpose of civil government is to secure our God-given rights

Ed Sebesta at Anti-Neo-Confederate reminds us that the National Religious Broadcasters are offering IOTC’s Constitution course via their website and network (Liberty University also).  He also asserts that the IOTC takes more of a Confederate view than an American one.
Some Christians may resonate with the IOTC declaration that the American view is that the founders deliberately sought to create a Biblical foundation for law and government. However, one must ignore many events and statements during the early days of the nation to hold that belief. For instance, theologically orthodox president of Yale, Timothy Dwight, certainly did not describe the Constitution in Peroutka’s terms when he spoke to Yale students in 1812.

Notwithstanding the prevalence of Religion, which I have described, the irreligion, and the wickedness, of our land are such, as to furnish a most painful and melancholy prospect to a serious mind. We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgment of God ; without any recognition of his mercies to us, as a people, of his government, or even of his existence. The Convention, by which it was formed, never asked, even once, his direction, or his blessing upon their labours. Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system, without God. I wish I could say, that a disposition to render him the reverence, due to his great Name, and the gratitude, demanded by his innumerable mercies, had been more public, visible, uniform, and fervent.

In his treatment of the founders’ religious beliefs during the IOTC course, Peroutka cherry picks quotes from founders to make them all sound orthodox. Like David Barton, Peroutka portrays the founders as orthodox in order to tie the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to “the God of the Bible.” Most founders were theistic, but that doesn’t mean they all believed in “the God of the Bible” in the evangelical sense or that they deliberately set out to create a Biblical government. What is remarkable is how infrequently religion is mentioned in the founding documents.
Historical problems aside, Peroutka espouses positions that are more acceptable at the League of the South than in a course on “the American view.” For instance, his position on nullification and interposition is much more in line with the Confederate view than the American view. Various defenders of slavery (e.g., John C. Calhoun) and segregation (e.g., Ross Barnett) tried the nullification argument and eventually failed.
Peroutka’s organization, the League of the South (he is a board member and has pledged the resources of the constitution course to the League), is the embodiment of the Confederate view. They can’t stand Abraham Lincoln and disparage Martin Luther King, Jr. They (from the LoS blog) disdain the United States, calling it the “USSA” and the “Evil Empire.” (see also “doomed evil empire” and an “organized criminal enterprise“), and don’t consider themselves American. They promote Southern secession in order to form an “Anglo-celtic” (i.e., white) Christian nation with a constitution that looks like the Constitution of 1788 (sans slavery amendments) and the Confederate Constitution of 1861. They don’t fly the American flag at their conferences, preferring instead the Confederate battle flag. At their upcoming anti-immigration reform rally in Uvalda, GA, the League plans to fly “The Georgia Secession Flag (left) and the Southern Nationalist Activism Flag (right) will be flown by participants at the upcoming demonstration.”
In June of this year, Peroutka told those in attendance at the League of the South conference that the League taught him most of what he knows. At 4:00 minutes into the video, Peroutka told the crowd:

Thank you for your kindness. I always have the difficulty when it comes to the League of the South since I actually learned most of what I know from y’all. There’s always the difficulty of what I’m going to tell you that you don’t already know.

Does it seem likely that the League of the South would teach Peroutka an American view? Does it seem likely that the League would endorse something called the American View if the leaders did not think it was friendly to the Confederate view? At one League conference, Peroutka urged the League to use his course as compatible with League goals, and at least one state branch has done so:

Former Presidential candidate Michael Peroutka co-founded the Institute on the Constitution (IOTC), the program that will run at the Middle Georgia Chapter’s Hedge School in April (see right). According to Chapter Chairman Ben Davis, it is an excellent resource which lends itself very easily to the League message. Davis encourages fellow chapter leaders to host IOTC in their localities. For more information, go to

In my opinion, when the League says a resource “lends itself very easily to the League message,” I suspect they mean it. Which view does it appear they endorse?