Educating Tim LaHaye


Dear Rev. LaHaye: You may not be aware that someone wrote a fictional letter to the editor to the USA TODAY and signed your name to it. I'm sure you would be concerned that someone would dare impersonate you, so I'm just giving you a heads up.

The fictitious piece appeared in the Jan. 21 print edition of the newspaper. The good news is the imposter apparently got at least one fact correct: he (I'm going to assume the perpetrator was a "he") did note, correctly as far as I know, that you've been in the ministry for "more than 60 years." Other than that, you as a fiction writer just might be proud of how the writer created an alternative ego on your behalf.

Whoever the author of the editorial, he has a very imaginative mind. I'm sure you will be outraged to know that he accused you of "never" urging "evangelicals to vote for the GOP." After all, as recently as November 2007 the real Tim LaHaye and his wife (on behalf of Mrs. LaHaye's Concerned Women for America), declaring that certain Democratic political forces threatened our society in a similar manner to what Hitler did in Germany, invited their conservative Republican Christian friends to political conferences in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina featuring one candidate: Republican Mike Huckabee. And in the 2000 election cycle, the real Tim LaHaye and his wife personally funded only Republican candidates.

Obviously, the person impersonating you does not know that in 1980 the real Tim LaHaye helped found the Moral Majority (a Republican advocacy organization that formed for the express purpose of defeating then-Democratic president, and Southern Baptist, Jimmy Carter; the Moral Majority lived on for several decades, advocating for Republicans), and in 1981 the real Tim LaHaye co-found the Council for National Policy for the express purpose of shaping the Republican Party into a tool for implementing a theocratic-styled society. (Of course, in light of the current unusual presidential election cycle, the CNP has threatened to leave the GOP if the party does not nominate an anti-abortion candidate.)

Insiders also know that the real Tim LaHaye has no use for Democrats at any level. Some of your critics point to your firing of the principal of the private school you founded. When the man disagreed with your Republican views, and you discovered he was a registered Democrat, he had to go, of course. And in 1985 you told your followers to pray that God would ensure "the removal (by any means God sees fit) of at least three" Democratic Supreme Court justices during Ronald Reagan's presidency.

Speaking of your ideal society, your impersonator also made the ludicrous claim--I'm sorry, I know this will embarrass you to no end--that your political agenda is nothing more than "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Of course, the societal visions of the real Tim LaHaye are shaped by Christian Reconstructionist views (after all, you've served as a leader of the theocratic Council on Revival, a group devoted to imposing "biblical law" upon American society).

The real Tim LaHaye, in a book entitled Mind Siege, spells out his ideals of a perfect society: government by fundamentalist Christians (no more separation of church and state!); public schools teaching fundamentalist doctrine and creationism and the myth of America's founding as a Christian nation; homosexuals no longer allowed to be a part of society; women forced to "stay at home and raise their babies;" and conservative Christians using their control of the federal government for the purpose of imposing "decency" codes. (You must have borrowed that last one from the Taliban? Or perhaps from your political/religious associate--and self-proclaimed Messiah--Rev. Sun Myung Moon? By the way, one day you really must explain to me why you worked hand-in-hand with Moon, yet believe the United Methodist Church is "apostate.") Anyway, it is safe to say that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have no place in the real Tim LaHaye's ideal society.

Oh, one another thing. The real Tim LaHaye has witnessed a lot of changes in his 60 years of ministry. But your imposter obviously is a much younger man. After all, he claims you want to maintain the Pledge of Allegiance. He is not aware that when you entered the ministry (about 1948) the words "under God" were not in the United States' Pledge of Allegiance. You're old enough, of course, to have known that a Baptist minister (Francis Bellamy, in 1892, not that you're THAT old!) penned what became known as the Pledge of Allegiance, and that he did not include the words "under God" (like any good Baptist worth his salt, Bellamy supported his denominational heritage of separation of church and state). Not until 1954, against the backdrop of fears of communism (the real Tim LaHaye hates communism, of course) were the words "under God" added to the Pledge. The real Tim LaHaye in his early years (and especially during his school years) must have recited that God-less Pledge hundreds of times before those new words were added. (Of course, today's Tim LaHaye likes the amended version of the Pledge over and above the one he recited as a youngster.)

Well, I better stop here before you get really mad. I mean, I'd be angry too if, at your age, someone impersonating me made such ridiculous claims about me that sullied my hard-fought accomplishments and called into question my visionary political legacy. In fact, you may even want to write a letter to the editor of USA TODAY in order to set the record straight.

Note: A survey of the beliefs and accomplishments of the real Tim LaHaye can be found online in an article by Rob Boston entitled, "If Best-Selling End-Times Author Tim LaHaye Has His Way, Church-State Separation Will Be … Left Behind"

Bruce Gourley is interim director of the Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University. His personal Web site is www.brucegourley.com.

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Tags: Bruce T. Gourley, Church-State Separation, Politics, Religion