A Libertarian Invokes Fear Mongering Against the Ron Paul Curriculum

Over at the so-called “libertarian” blog site “Skeptical Libertarian,” primary author Daniel Bier is angry at the associations that Ron Paul has made in promoting and developing his new curriculum intended for homeschoolers (especially for Christian homeschoolers).

In his post, Bier “serve[s]… a warning to the libertarian and Christian homeschooling communities: Gary North, the man who is writing and publishing the “Ron Paul Curriculum,” is certifiably nuts.” Well, here I am, a Christian, libertarian homeschooling proponent ready to dismiss the warning and defend Dr. Paul and Gary North. I am also not a Christian Reconstructionist as North is.

How might the American Federal Government invoke the right type of fear from its constituency in order to force a response of say, support for war in the Middle East? The government needs that type of support because it loves its bloodthirsty wars. By creating drama with phrases like Muslim Extremists, Anti-Government radicals, and the like, the State has long been able to get away with all types of action that the people have learned to ignore.

Bier is doing something similar by comparing Dr. North to the Taliban. Yes, antiwar and anti-collectivist Gary North is the new Taliban according to this post that was published only today. By crying foul over the fact that North “subscribes” to the Christian Reconstructionist movement, Bier has implied that libertarians ought to only think like him, otherwise, they are not worth learning from. Does he not realize that Murray Rothbard was close to Gary North? Does he not realize that Rothbardian and early paleo-libertarian Burt Blummert was close with North’s father-in-law and Christian Recon founder RJ Rushdoony? (who was also anti-war and anti-collectivist).

Bier then states (I’m still in the first paragraph) that Reconstructionism “aspires to establish a global Christian theocracy.” This is absurd. He has no idea how Reconstructionism is applied in light of the Christian doctrine of postmillennialism. Firstly, Reconstruction, because of its postmillennialism, is anti-revolutionary. They seek to forcefully establish nothing. Rather, they simply describe where they believe the culture will eventually end up before the second coming of Christ. Secondly, a theocracy should not be confused with the more accurate term, theonomy. Whereas Theocrats advocate for the State to forcefully apply God’s law, theonomists (which are the Recons) advocate that the Church ought to take care of these (Old Testament) laws, all of which will be applied to those within the Church. Some theonomists even consider themselves voluntarists because joining the Church is optional. It is important to note that I personally am not a Reconstructionist, a theonomist, or a postmillennialist.

(I want to be very clear here. North and Rushdoony et al, when the use the word “theocracy,” when they do, mean theonomy. North differentiates between theocracy and theonomy by calling the former “humanistic theocracy” and the latter Biblical theocracy. The meaning of the word is more important that the word itself. To use a libertarian example, Ludwig von Mises writes in favor of “democracy.” But he is referring to the older understanding of democracy which means that the masses decide via the free market rather than democracy wherein the people use political means to accomplish the broad goals of the majority. Anyone who states that Mises advocates democracy must define his terms).

The next couple paragraphs essentially imply that Bier hates Gary North and that Ron Paul’s statements on the site sound too much like North for his taste. Did North write these statements? Most likely. I am very familiar with North’s writings. But as Bier himself notes, even Tom Woods has written for Paul. This is a very common practice. In fact, in the 1970’s in his early years in Congress, Paul had several speeches written by North. The audacity. But he admits that “none of this is wrong in itself.” So I won’t hold it against him.

But now we get to the important part. The part where parents ought to be concerned: Gary North has an agenda. And guess what. This agenda is in line with his personal worldview. As if there are educators and visionaries out there whose goals are different from their own worldview. Bier quotes Gary North as stating:

Everyone talks about religious liberty, but no one believes it. So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”

Christians don’t have too much a problem with such a statement and there is little in this statement itself that implies Reconstructionism. Even my own primary influence, John W. Robbins, who wailed on North’s reconstructionism and theonomy wouldn’t have been too far from agreeing with the same statement. (Robbins also worked with North and Paul in Congress during that era in the ‘70s. He was a strong Calvinist and was the heir apparent of Philosopher Gordon Clark, arch nemesis of Westminster Seminary’s Cornelius Van Til, whose philosophy North subscribes to.) The issue is how it is applied. Regardless, the worldview of Christianity is hardly totalitarian. There is not word or phrase in that statement that can be used to say that the State shall force everyone to agree or follow Christianity’s teaching. Now that would be totalitarian.

When North says that the “order… denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God,” such a bold statement should be considered in context of the entire worldview of the Christian Reconstructionist. To translate that statement, North believes that if one is an enemy of God, there will eventually be a time when the Church environment is so large that it begins to overcome the secular environment. Not by force, but by progression. In other words, North believes that all of society will eventually be a Christian one and that those who come into the Church will necessarily be made to give up their “liberty” of seeking other religions. The secularist world will be crashing and the secularist person will have to jump ship.

As North says several paragraphs later in the same book that Brier quotes, “[The Christian] does not seek to expand state intervention as a means of establishing a utopia on earth.” I don’t want to get too deep into Reconstructionist theology here, but it is important to know that North does not advocate some socialist revolution of terror against the present age.

Brier then proceeds to bring about various examples of North’s theonomist vision. All of which are explained without the context of the postmillennial concept of the “Church Age” and all of them are used to allegedly show the reader that, since Gary North believes in them, the recipient of his curriculum should not seek to learn anything from him at all. This is interesting considering the fact that time and again, North, despite his disagreements on religious ideas with the mainstream libertarians (even Rothbardians), is a primary lecturer at Mises events and is considered by the likes of Joseph Salerno to be one of the best economists today.

I won’t get into responding to Brier’s claims about the Recons understanding of “replacement theology” and the role of Christ as the second Adam. This conversation is ultimately unrelated to the quality of the home school curriculum. Brier ends his crusade against North and the curriculum by stating that he would not feel comfortable letting his children in the same room with him. Although to my knowledge, North has killed far less, stolen from far less, lied to far less, molested far less, and kidnapped far less people than representatives of the State. It is amazing that Lew Rockwell, David Gordon, Joe Salerno, and all those other non-Calvinist Austrians made it out of the Mises Institute alive after talking with North.

Brier was even sure to include the notorious Westboro Baptist in his story. That is a must-have when fighting against Christians who seem outdated in today’s world. In summary, Brier was bigoted against North’s views, intolerant of his goals, dogmatic against the curriculum. And all those other key words that the politically correct and morally relativistic libertarians love to throw to their audience.

There is no religious neutrality that is true. But I bet, after reading Brier’s note, one would never guess that he allowed Woods to write a Catholic track for the Western Civilization course. But North did exactly that. North is no monster. He is a friend of Ron Paul’s, he was a friend of Murray Rothbard, and he is one of the most knowledgeable historians and economists I know. His theological preferences do not impede his historical and economic brilliance as a lecturer and writer –but apparently Brier is distracted by them. I doubt North will be teaching a lesson on sound money and include in the lecture his vision of why the little girls and boys ought to obey their parents or else.

All of the above paragraphs to say: enough of the fear mongering. North does great work and to bring in his more “controversial” views and misapply them in this curricular setting is unfair. Perhaps I spent too much time on discussing Brier’s misunderstanding of North and not enough time pointing out that most of his statements were irrelevant to the course material. But I did want to defend the integrity of Dr. North and Dr. Paul.

When it comes to history and economics (which North is teaching), I trust, more than I trust most other historians and economists, North to provide a quality and rigorous education. This coupled with the emphasis on life skills, entrepreneurship, writing, blogging, and personal finance, it will be hard for the Christian liberty-oriented family to find something better. Of course the non-traditional and non-conservative Christians will despise the Christian aspects of this. What did we all expect?

I disagree with North on his Reconstructionist theology and his theonomist political philosophy. But if I were advising Ron Paul to pick a person to lead this project, I can think of no other candidate I would rather trust to provide a solid education than Gary North and Dr. Woods. Ron Paul is not stupid. He knows exactly who Gary North is. Ron Paul is a Christian who invited two dogmatic Calvinists (North and Robbins) onto his staff in the 1970s. I think the libertarians ought to not attempt to make Paul someone he is not. He is a Bible-believing Christian and his choice of North was not random.

By the way, for clarity’s sake, Ron Paul is not a Reconstructionist either.

About TRL Admin

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, where he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com
  • http://philloz3000.wordpress.com Phillip Lozano

    “Christians don’t have too much a problem with such a statement”

    Outrageous. The vast majority of mainstream American Christians would have a huge problem with this statement.

    • http://reformedlibertarian.com C.Jay Engel

      Fair enough. It’s hard to make blanket statements:-)

      • http://philloz3000.wordpress.com Phillip Lozano

        Only when people are paying attention, hmm?

        • http://reformedlibertarian.com C.Jay Engel

          I should have said: “even non Reconstructionists don’t have too much a problem….” I think that would have been more accurate.

          Thanks for the feedback.

    • http://www.jonesfamily.us Ron Jones

      It is of critical importance to come to the understanding that, in fact “there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government.”

      “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” ~Joshua 24:15

      “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” ~Luke 11:23 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” ~II Corinthians 6:14-17

      Most mainstream American Christians (a.k.a. “modern churchianity”)… aren’t practicing Bible Christianity. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” ~Matthew 10:22

      Make sure you don’t choose the wrong Jesus, a false spirit, or a counterfeit gospel (II Corinthians 11:1-5)

  • Nancy

    Jay, thank you for your reply. I think it is well written and a good interpretation of Gary North’s work as my husband and I have read some of his writings over the years. We are not reconstructionists either, but the knowledge which he has would influence my decision to purchase this curriculum were I homeschooling my children at this time (I did homeschool them – they are grown men now.) I am glad you wrote it, because I definitely felt the author of the original article had major problems with him and you did a good job of refuting some of his issues. Thank you.

    • http://reformedlibertarian.com C.Jay Engel

      Thanks for the feedback! I always appreciate encouragement. Make sure you check out my original article on the curriculum.

      God bless.

      C.Jay Engel

  • http://philloz3000.wordpress.com Phillip Lozano

    “I should have said: ‘even non Reconstructionists don’t have too much a problem….’ I think that would have been more accurate.”

    Technically more accurate, perhaps, but still hopelessly misleading; it implies that overall, there would be little objection to what is a patently radical philosophy by modern standards.

  • Pingback: One of Those Embarrassing Gary North Quotes | Propagating the Philosophy of Liberty

  • http://madmothermusings.wordpress.com measureofagift

    Modern standards are the key in your argument Phillip. Christian’s don’t apply modern standards, they apply Biblical standards, which will always be viewed as radical. Jesus said so himself (Matt 10:22, John 15:21, Luke 21:17) Also, considering that referring to most Christians really is a small number (Matthew 7:13-14), by Biblical standards, I would assume this statement covers a small number of people, and considering the qualifier (Christians) and that the North quote in question is in line with solid Biblical concepts (God himself declares no one as neutral, and law and morality as his own domain in both Old and New Testaments.) I would say that this particular blanket statement, though offensive to Christians who are in name only, is fairly accurate, when you consider many call themselves Christ followers, but few allow Christ to truly change their lives, and apply Christianity as more than a weekly activity, or a determiner of their Holiday preferences.

  • Karen

    Thank you, C.Jay, for writing this. It was informative and a great balance to the extreme article you were addressing. I don’t know much about North, so I appreciate the facts, and will continue to educate myself on each of these men, as well as the curriculum. Anyway, I think most parents considering the curriculum will dig into it and examine for themselves if it is appropriate and aligns with their values. Most homeschoolers I know scrutinize any curriculum before choosing it. From what I know of Ron Paul, I have high hopes. I know I learned very little about the Constitution or free market economics from public school.

  • http://twitter.com/loudmouthrep Loudmouth Rep (@loudmouthrep)

    Compared to Gary North, this allegedly-”Skeptical Libertarian” is just a young whipper-snapper, a little chihuahua biting at the heels of true libertarians who are GETTING THINGS DONE.

  • Lin

    Thanks for bringing some balance to the discussion about Gary North. Your voice is greatly needed!

  • Anonymous

    Bier’s piece was sensationalistic, disrespectful, academically dishonest, and completely lacking an understanding of the nuances of reconstructionism. I’m not a reconstructionist, but that doesn’t make it difficult to actually understand what’s they’re offering. I’ve not heard of Bier before, and I don’t care to read more after this.

  • http://gravatar.com/kilderfirkin David Johnson

    Denying religious liberty for non Christians is simply not libertarian. Executing children for not respecting their parents is not libertarian. Executing homosexuals is not libertarian. It’s not even Christian!

    • http://reformedlibertarian.com C.Jay Engel

      First, I think you failed to understand the distinction between theonomy and theocracy. Second, I agree. But North is not a libertarian.

  • kfreed

    Sorry folks, but we’ve been trying to warn you about Ron Paul’s religious fundamentalism. It’s not that hard to see:

    On the contrary, Ron Paul is a religious fundamentalist:

    “Ron Paul Curriculum Launched by Reconstructionist Gary North and Neo-Confederate Thomas Woods”
    http://www.talk2action.org/story/2013/4/9/124434/9216

    Ron Paul on Separation of Church and State ‘Myth’ – “The War on Religion”
    In His Own Words (Posted at LewRockwell.com) – Dec. 2003
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul148.html

    Backup: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/01/02/ron-paul-never-thought-there-should-be-separation-of-church-and-state/

    Ron Paul: No Church/State Separation:
    http://atheism.about.com/b/2007/08/06/authoritarian-or-libertarian-ron-paul-on-churchstate-separation-secularism.htm

    Ron Paul “Civil Libertarian” – Not So Much: “6 Rights You Could Lose Under President Ron Paul”
    http://civilliberty.about.com/od/profiles/tp/6-Rights-Lost-Under-Ron-Paul.htm

    Saint Paul: Inside Ron Paul’s effort to convince conservative Christians that he’s their man:
    [Paul tells Yahoo his policy ideas are rooted in scripture – see former Paul staffer Gary North’s “10,000 page exposition on “Biblical Capitalism”]
    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/saint-paul-inside-ron-paul-effort-convince-christian-150637605.html

    Treat Ron Paul with Extreme Caution… Ron Paul, Christian Reconstructionists and the John Birch Society
    http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/7195-adele-m-stan-alternet

    Rand Paul [and Ron Paul]: We Wouldn’t Need Laws If Everyone Were Christian
    “Howard Phillips, the former Nixon administration official who founded the Conservative Caucus and Constitution Party (formerly the U.S. Taxpayers Party) and co-founded the powerful Council for National Policy, claims Rushdoony as his mentor…” http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahposner/2654/rand_paul%3A_we_wouldn%E2%80%99t_need_laws_if_everyone_were_christian

    Ron Paul Proposes Legislation to Allow States to Ban Birth Control
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/ron-paul-birth-control

    [VIDEO] Ron Paul Rejects Evolution:
    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2011/08/ron_paul_rejects_evolution_too.php#more

    [VIDEO] Ron Paul’s powerful pro-life ad:
    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/10/14/video-ron-pauls-powerful-pro-life-reminder/

    [VIDEO] Ron Paul on Fox Business: Global Warming is a Hoax – Nov. 4, 2009:

    Anti-LBGT: Ron Paul Proposed Family Protection Act with Anti-gay Provision (HR-7955) introduced in 1980: Title V: Domestic Partnershipshttp://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d096:HR07955:@@@L&summ2=m&

    Anti-LGBT: Ron Paul introduced Anti-Gay Marriage Protection Act (2004):
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul197.html

    [VIDEO] Ron Paul’s Full Speech at the Christian Fundamentalist Values Voter Summit 2011
    Listen to ALL of it. Paul says that government has no place in education and that the responsibility for educating children should fall solely to the family. Reiterates elimination of the Dept. of Education.

    Waiting for the Day When We Can Say We’re All Austrians: Ron Paul’s Brand of Libertarianism [The Theocratic Kind]
    http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/1/4/234938/0298

    Ron Paul’s Christian Reconstructionist Roots
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/01/02/ron-paul-s-christian-reconstructionist-roots.html

    Ron Paul [Election 2012] Hires Christian Right Political Activist with American Family Association for Church Outreach:
    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/mike-heath-resurfaces-ron-paul-iowa

    “Scary Gary” North’s “Biblical Capitalism” [Christian Reconstruction]
    http://www.garynorth.com/public/department57.cfm

    Rachel Tabachnick on Gary North, Christian Reconstruction, and the Religious Right’s War on Progressive Economic Policy
    http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/2/1/132159/0192

    Random Book Blogging: Gary North, AIDS, Ron Paul, and Christian Reconstruction
    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/random-book-blogging-gary-north-aids-ron-paul-and-christian-reconstructionism

    Ron Paul: Stealth Dominionist:
    http://www.religiousrightwatch.com/2011/09/exposing-religious-fundamentalism-in-the-us.html

  • kfreed

    P.S. The religious right even wrote a plan of action and disussed using gullible libertarians as pawns until they could safely ditch you all and any pretense to concerns about “liberty”, courtesy of the twistd brain of Paul Weyrich:

    http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/WeyrichManual.html

    Read the entire Weyrich Report here, particulary the section on “New Traditionalists and Libertarians”:
    http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/FreeCongressEssay.html

    Got any idea who Paul Weyrich is (was, he died in 2008)?

    I doubt you’ll post my comments, but I figure it’s worth a try in case you’re unaware as to what you’re aiding and abetting by covering for Paul.

    • http://reformedlibertarian.com C.Jay Engel

      Thanks. I’ll discuss your comments tomorrow.

    • http://www.jonesfamily.us Ron Jones

      If you are a Christian who adheres to certain truths of the Holy Bible… one might even call them “fundamental truths” (without which it simply would not be Bible Christianity)… Then you are, by definition, a fundamentalist.

      Someone who calls themself a Christian, and denys the fundamentals of the faith… is not a Christian.

      I am a Christian Libertarian. NOT a licentious Libertine.

  • Bobdog

    Ridiculous. North is not an economist. He has no such degree or training. He deeply misunderstands banking and money and is a hysterical fearmongerer.

  • cjayengel

    Clearly you don’t understand my desire to call out the post for fear mongering. North does endorse using stoning to punish crime. I don’t. There really was no need to mention it or justify it.

    • Andrew Craig

      “This guy his crazy, look, he even endorses stoning children to death!”
      “That’s just fear-mongering, and I didn’t mention stoning children to death because it’s irrelevant”

      Ok, sure. If you’re going to call something “fear-mongering” then you have to show that it is in fact an unfounded fear. Just ignoring the claims, deeming them irrelevant, and calling their proponent a “fear-monger” does nothing to rebut the original claims: that Gary North is a friggin’ lunatic, and nobody should take his views on religion and civil society seriously, much less teach their kids from it. You make a decent case that Ron Paul knew exactly what he was doing, instead of the benefit of the doubt TSL gives him, but I don’t think that really helps your case.

      I voted for Ron Paul. I know he has his warts, and Paul-land has always had some questionable goings-on with the office politics, but putting a genuine frothing-at-the-mouth lunatic in charge of history and economics education- the very subjects that are the focus of his insanity- really is just beyond the pale. Even if the material he produces is totally unobjectionable, which I really doubt, having his name on it is on the same level as promoting curriculum written by David Duke or Lyndon LaRouche.

      • cjayengel

        Fear mongering took place by indicating that the curriculum itself should be ignored because Gary North represents the Christian Taliban. That is so radically absurd. Look at the pictures on the original article. That is not fear mongering?

        Gary North will not be teaching his views on religion and civil society, at least not the Reconstructionist views. So this is indeed an irrelevant and moot argument. That is my point. He views on stoning should not be seen as an impediment to learning economics or history. That is also my point.

        You may think that at a promotional or marketing level, North’s name is terrible. But not only does that seem like a different argument, I also think that he is positively received from the Mises crowd. I understand that TSL is of a different flavor than the Mises crowd, but for those of us who disagree that “Paul has his warts” (at least in the same sense that you may mean it), North is a great choice.

        Ultimately, we could go back and forth all day as to whether or not there is something to learn from people with whom we disagree. But on this point, we may not find consensus at all. Personally, I have learned much from Gary North historically and economically. And I have never once been tempted to stone anyone.