In the early 1960s, a small cadre of American Christians began calling for a second Reconstruction, one even more radical than the post-Civil War renovation of Southern society. Their white-bearded patriarch, Rousas John Rushdoony, found very few listeners then. But today, Rushdoony and his compatriots are regular guests on religious television shows, hobnob with a potential candidate for the presidency, testify in dozens of church-state education trials, and gain burgeoning numbers of adherents in the charismatic wing of evangelicalism.

Newsweek has labeled Rushdoony’s Chalcedon Foundation as the think tank of the Religious Right. Last fall, for the first time, major Christian presses released Reconstructionist literature. Crossway copublished with Dominion Press George Grant’s The Dispossessed and Gary North’s Conspiracy. Thomas Nelson copublished (also with Dominion) four titles in the Biblical Blueprint Series, edited by North, and endorsed by Jerry Falwell as “a tool Christians need” for the difficulties “that confront society.”

The late Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto relied on Rushdoony’s social analysis. The younger Schaeffer, Franky V, freely cited Rushdoony in one of his early books, and listed the Chalcedon Report as one of four periodicals all concerned Christians should read. And the prominent conservative attorney and author, John Whitehead, has called Rushdoony one of two major influences on his thought.

More startling than any degree of influence, however, is what Reconstructionists actually propose for society: the abolition of democracy and reinstitution of slavery, for starters. Comments Douglas Chismar, a professor at Ashland Theological Seminary ...

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