Reverend D. James Kennedy, a Christian broadcaster and leader of a mega-church in Orlando, Florida died today at the age of 76. D. James Kennedy played a critical role in the development of the religious right, both through his promotion of a far right Christian worldview at his Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church as well as in his founding of the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, and the Center for Christian Statesmanship. Kennedy was also involved in the movement as a founding board member for the Moral Majority and a longtime member of the Council for National Policy.
Throughout his career, Kennedy was heavily funded by Amway co-founder Richard DeVos and his wife Helen via the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. According to Media Mouse’s Far Right in West Michigan database, the Grand Rapids based Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation gave $2.87 million dollars to Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church from 2002 to 2004. Media Transparency, another entity tracking the philanthropy of the conservative right, reports that Richard and Helen DeVos gave the church more than $7 million from 1998 to 2004.
Kennedy was an advocate of a religious and political worldview that was similar to that of the DeVos family. Kennedy attacked the usual religious right targets–gays, lesbians, and transgendered people, those who are pro-choice, evolution, and the alleged “secularists” who sought to “remove God” from America. Following his retirement earlier this year, People for the American Way profiled Kennedy and outlined his role in the religious right. Not only did Kennedy occupy an important role in terms of mobilizing the movement’s members at the grassroots level, but Kennedy also moved the movement’s theology further to the right. Over the years, numerous articles have explained how Kennedy attacked the idea of separation of church and state. His repeated claims that the United States is a “Christian Nation” coupled with his associations with the Dominionist movement have led many to conclude that Kennedy was a Christian Reconstructionist. The Christian Reconstructionist movement seeks to institute a conservative version of “Christian law” to govern the United States in what would essentially be a theocracy.
A sampling of quotes by D. James Kennedy from his 1994 book Character & Destiny: A Nation in Search of its Soul are reprinted below:
“Christians did not start the culture war but…we are going to end it. That is a fact, and the Bible assures us of victory.”
“Not all the educators in our public schools and universities are deliberately deceitful, not all of them want to destroy this nation, but many do. The major teachers’ unions certainly do.”
“But the fact is, the United States of America was conceived and brought forth by Christians, and history tells us that story in no uncertain terms…Anyone who reads about the values upon which this nation was founded understands perfectly well that this was, from the start, a Christian nation.”
“Just a few years ago, there were as many as ten thousand Communist professors in American universities. The average person never saw any of them, and many would doubt the truth of that statistic. But I can assure you it is true.”
“Modern secularists and agnostics do not want to admit that the Christian religion is true, because that would mean that they are sinners; and they have no intention of giving up their right to sin.”
“Teachers in many of our public schools have acceded to the policies of the liberal teachers’ unions to make sure that students from kindergarten through high school will be stripped of any sense of moral or ethical absolutes. Right and wrong are non-issues in our public schools.”
“Every new advance and every step taken by science confirm not evolution but the Genesis account of creation. Yet evolution still continues to be taught as fact…Thus, the honorable place that had been given to human beings by God is surreptitiously aborted, and they are dragged down into the slime.”
“If we are committed and involved in taking back the nation for Christian moral values, and if we are willing to risk the scorn of the secular media and the bureaucracy that stand against us, there is no doubt we can witness the dismantling of not just the Berlin Wall but the even more diabolical ‘wall of separation’ that has led to increasing secularization, godlessness, immorality, and corruption in our country.”
“God forbid that we who were born into the blessings of a Christian America should let our patrimony slip like sand through our fingers and leave to our children the bleached bones of a godless secular society. But whatever the outcome, one thing is certain: God has called us to engage the enemy in this culture war. That is our challenge today.”
“This is our land. This is our world. This is our heritage, and with God’s help, we shall reclaim this nation for Jesus Christ. And no power on earth can stop us.”
“How much more forcefully can I say it? The time has come, and it is long overdue, when Christians and conservatives and all men and women who believe in the birthright of freedom must rise up and reclaim America for Jesus Christ.”