As mentioned in a prior post, the Deliver Us from Evil Conference took place at Upper Room Church in Keller, Texas on October 21-23. Having documented the demon-flavored rants of senior pastor Steve Foss, I'd like to turn attention to another speaker at the conference, Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission. (See www[dot]upperroomdfw[dot]com/deliver-us-from-evil.html)
Cass delivered a talk entitled "The Spiritual Attack on Politics in America", in which he argued that the U.S. government has become unmoored from Christian principles. Cass devoted much of his talk to the alleged decline of American politics and culture, citing Psalm 11:4: "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" He quoted controversial preacher Billie Sunday, arguing that civilization rests on morality, which rests on religion, which rests on faith and the Bible. Cass elaborated on these ideas at the 12:55 mark.
"Politics, or government, if you will, is downstream from culture. Culture ... is the outworking of cultis, the religious views. So if you will, politics is downstream from culture. Culture is downstream from religion. It's very simple. The foundation of any nation is its religion. If you will, politics and government is nothing more than our most cherished beliefs, writ large. Where do we get our most cherished beliefs? Where do we get our most cherished ideals? From our religion."At the 14:06 mark, Cass argued that America must be united by shared religious values, lest it descend into anarchy.
"In order to function as a society then, we have to have these shared ideals, shared values, shared sense of morality. Otherwise what? We devolve into anarchy, or we devolve into what we're experiencing today in the United States, what some people have called the culture war. What is it? It's nothing more than competing religious ideas that are competing for your hearts and minds and the future of this nation. That's what's at stake, and that's where the devil's at work."Like many Religious Right voices, Cass sneered at abortion, LGBTQ rights, or separation of church and state. At the 16:25 mark, he lambasted politicians who support for these issues were alleged signs of moral bankruptcy.
"If we were a virtuous and moral people, we would not elect the kind of politicians that we elect that have no Biblical moral compass. Americans regularly elect politicians who can justify innocent babies made in the image of God. That is a broken moral compass. America regularly elects politicians who can justify redefining God's institution of marriage. That is a broken moral compass. We tolerate judges who allow for pornography and blasphemy, yet won't allow us to have prayer [and] Bible reading in our schools, and we let it happen. We the people are the problem."Cass gave lip service to separation of church and state, insisting that the state should not perform baptism or administer sacraments, for instance. However, he insisted that people cannot divorce God from any aspect of creation, including government. He quoted Christian Reconstructionist R. J. Rushdoony, whom he praised as a "great theologian", calling government "our religion externalized." Specifically, government is America's collective religion on display, Cass said.
At the 24:02 mark, Cass accused secularism of attacking Christian values in America. He lamented that Protestants are not the numerical majority in the U.S., alarmed that the 2012 presidential candidates were not evangelical Protestants. (The fact that President Obama was a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ for over two decades seems to have escaped him.) As I listened, I failed to see why the country and political sphere shouldn't be a welcome place for Orthodox, Catholics, Mormons, and non-Christians.
"Secularism is the United States has been prosecuting [sic] a war on our values for over a hundred years, almost a hundred and fifty years, and now we are reeling from the results of this. In the founding era, 99% of Americans were Protestants ... Within the last couple of weeks, a poll just came out that says now, only 48% of Americans identify themselves as Protestants. 99 to 48. There's a symptom. For the first time in our history as a nation, in 2012, we will have no evangelical Protestant Christian on the ballot for president of vice president from either party. These are watershed moments."Cass reserved special vitriol for the U.S. educational system, alleging that most evangelicals have been "brainwashed by public schools" and do not know their history. He lamented that formerly Christian universities such as Harvard have become "perverted factories of unfaithfulness", horrified that Harvard would have a chaplain who is an "open homosexual". He condemned Harvard as an institution "animated by the spirit of anti-Christ", a supposed "radical bastion of unbelief", and "the leading enemy of Christ and the church."
Finally, Right Wing Watch shared one amusing segment from Cass' talk where he insisted that Christians have a moral duty to own guns.
"By the way, I've got a whole sermon. 'You Can't Be a Christian if You Don't Own a Gun.' That preaches in Texas, don't it? California, they're still looking at me sideways ... You have not just a right to bear arms, you have a duty. How can you protect yourself, your family, or your neighbor if you don't have a gun? If I'm supposed to love my neighbor, and I can't protect him, what good am I?"Cass strikes me as someone who longs for a fundamentalist Christian America, by and for fundamentalist evangelicals. What he fails to realize is that people of many faiths, not just fundamentalist Christians, contribute to this country and uphold its Constitutional principles. America is a secular democracy, not a theocracy, despite the domonionist visions of people like Cass. As long as diverse groups make their voices heard, America will continue to be a country where many people can live and contribute to the greater good.
To listen to part I of Cass' talk or any of the other talks at the Deliver Us from Evil Conference, visit