This blog is usually not really bloggy, in the sense that I don’t normally comment on other blogs posting about this or that passing tidbit. But today I’ll break from my normal modus operandi for a truly remarkable tidbit.
Yesterday I read on Rod Dreher’s “Crunchycon” blog that Howard Ahmanson, the famous Orange County Billionaire whose funding has long been of vital importance to conservative Christian causes, had become a Democrat. From the perspective of homeschooling history, this is amazing. It wouldn’t be that much of an overstatement to say that Ahmanson’s money was the fuel that drove the Conservative Protestant homeschooling movement in its early years. I describe in great detail in my book how important Rousas Rushdoony was to homeschooling history. Rushdoony’s Chalcedon Foundation was bankrolled by Ahmanson. Rushdoony was the founding voice for Christian Reconstructionism (a variant of Theonomy), arguing that the Bible’s legal codes, both Old and New Testament, should be the basis of American law. To facilitate the United States’ return to being a Christian nation, Rushdoony advocated that Christians remove their children from public schools where they were being indoctinated with Secular Humanism (Rushdoony put this term on the lexical map).
A second strategy Rushdoony advocated was to create a Christian legal infrastructure. This idea achieved institutional embodiment in John W. Whitehead’s Rutherford Institute, a legal organization offering its services for free to Christians whose civil liberties were threatened. Many of Rutherford’s cases in the late 70s and 80s were homeschooling related. Rutherford was funded by private donations, and its biggest donor by far was Howard Ahmanson. (I should note in passing that Whitehead has softened a good bit since the 1980s).
By the late 1980s Rutherford’s influence in the movement was being eclipsed by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), but here too key figures at HSLDA were tightly connected with Rushdoony, Whitehead, and Ahmanson, especially Chris Klicka. If you want more details about all of this you can find them in my book Homeschool: An American History.
Point being that it is truly amazing that a man who was at one time the most prominent financier by far of political efforts to turn the United States into an explicitly Christian country built not on Constitutional democracy but on Biblical Law, has now joined the Democratic party. I am stunned.