The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

American Heritage Group Pushes Radical Theocratic Class on Constitution

By Don Terry on September 18, 2013 - 2:31 pm, Posted in Extremist Propaganda, Neo-Confederate

If you didn’t know it already, this is Constitution Week across the country. Smack dab in the middle in Ohio, the Daniel Cooper chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) wanted to do something special this year to commemorate the 226-year-old document. But what? The group wasn’t exactly sure. “I haven’t read the Constitution since high school, many decades ago,” chapter head Betsey Taylor told Hatewatch.

Probably most Americans could make the same confession, so the women of the Daniel Cooper chapter decided to take a 12-week Constitution course and invite everyone in their Dayton, Ohio-area community — from teenagers to grandparents — to join them. But it isn’t the traditional civics-class version of the Constitution course they hope to share. The class Daniel Cooper has signed up for and is promoting is a highly controversial lecture series offered by the far-right Institute on the Constitution (IOTC).

IOTC was founded by Michael Peroutka, a Maryland lawyer who sits on the board of the League of the South, a racist neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans.” The league wants to form a “godly” nation, run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (read: white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate black people and other minorities. Peroutka was also the 2004 presidential candidate of the Constitution Party, a far-right, theocratic third party.

“Peroutka is emphatic that reform of the current nation is not the purpose of studying the current Constitution,” writes Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor who studies and blogs extensively on public policy, mental health, sexual identity and religious issues and has been closely following IOTC’s attempts to plant its flag in Ohio. “He believes along with the League of the South that this ‘regime’ will collapse leading to secession or some other situation.”

A flyer announcing the lecture series promises “to introduce you to the Constitution of the United States of American, our Biblical heritage and limited government.”

“Beginning with the Bible,” the flyer continues, “you will learn the origins of law and government. Next, stories of America’s discovery, settlement and evangelization from exciting, primary sources you never saw in school!”

The series is scheduled to begin tonight at Grace Lutheran Church in West Carrollton, a 20-minute drive from Springboro, Ohio, where a revolt this past summer by parents and alumni forced the local school board to cancel the same 12-week program the DAR chapter is promoting and a one-day seminar offered by an outfit called the National Center for Constitutional Studies.

The Dayton Daily News reported on July 4 that the courses “embroiled the district in controversy over what opponents called a religious interpretation of the subject,” and that the groups offering the courses “have been criticized as ‘tea party leaning’ and religiously oriented.”

Before the parent upraising, the Springboro school board had planned to offer the courses during the summer to parents, students and staff. The board reportedly wanted to evaluate the courses for possible inclusion in its schools. In June, according to the Dayton Daily News, the ACLU of Ohio announced it “was investigating the board’s actions as part of an overall plan to push a religious agenda in the public school district.”

A month later, the board cancelled both courses.

Taylor, the regent, or head, of the Daniel Cooper DAR chapter, said she was not aware of the protests in nearby Springboro nor did she know about the connection IOTC has to the League of the South or what the League stands for. “Personally, I just love history,” Taylor said. “We’re not sponsoring the group. We’re sponsoring a class on the Constitution. If it gets to be political, our participation will stop.”

The regent said that as the chapter discussed ways to commemorate the Constitution this year, a member, Georgene Bonsteel, suggested the chapter, which has 109 members, sign up for the lecture series. Bonsteel, Taylor said, was one of several chapter members who had previously taken the course and recommended it. According to the IOTC website, more than 250 “students’’ in Ohio graduated from the course last year.

Bonsteel told Hatewatch that she did know about the parent protests in Springboro and the school board’s decision to cancel the courses. “I think it’s terrible,” she said, “that there are factions in this country that don’t believe in doing things correctly and erroneously accuse patriotic organizations of doing what is not right.”

Like Taylor, however, Bonsteel said she did not know anything about the League.

“Right now, they want to secede?” she asked.

The answer is yes.

Bonsteel said that would not change her mind about offering the course to her DAR sisters and anyone else.

“There is nothing that would keep me from being involved in this wonderful, Constitution information classes,” she said. “That’s all it is.”

In an interview with Hatewatch today, Throckmorton, a conservative evangelical who teaches at a Christian liberal arts college, said the IOTC connection to the League of the South should make “anyone run in the opposite direction.” The League, he said, “wants to take us back to before the Civil War.”

Throckmorton — who recently wrote an important book debunking theocratic claims about Thomas Jefferson and the foundation of the United States — said that while the course does provide some accurate information about the Constitution, much of it is distorted history and “pro-Confederate” propaganda. He said people who sign up for the course apparently believe they are getting hidden information, the inside scoop they were never told about in school.

“The reason they haven’t heard it before,” he said, “is because it just isn’t so.”

  • supersonic250

    Blast Dorrough-

    GAH! Reading comprehension fail!!! I’m sorry, you weren’t being an insane crackpot! My bad! ^^;

    This teaches me not to read SPLC comments while in the middle of doing something else that draws half my attention, like cooking lunch…. o.o;;;

  • supersonic250

    Blast Dorrough or Roll Fizzlebeef or Chunk McBeefy, whatever fake name you want to be called by…

    …WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG! The United States is a secular nation. Is. Always was. Always will be (hopefully). Thomas Jefferson himself spoke out against the church, and also spoke in favor of freedom of religion for Muslims. You are a crackpot. Please go learn some ACTUAL history, not propaganda.

  • Sam Molloy

    This Sept. 17, Constitution Day, a student at Modesto (Ca) Junior college was detained for pssing out copies of the Constitution on campus. The college stated that he could only do so in the campus’ Free Speech Zone, and only if he reserved it well in advance.

  • http://splc stevea

    @Jane: It is obvious to me you are nothing but a troll trying to disrupt this web-site. If you can’t handle the rhetoric here, just go away, Fool…

  • Blast Dorrough

    The Declaration of Independence is the Founding Document of the United States. By definition and in letter and spirit it is a Declaration affirming Deism as the one and only true theology in rejection of all man-contrived religioncraft as false theology. The Document shows that the Founders from all walks of life put their lives on the line “to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another [meaning “the species of useless pomp”—an evil King and his court of hirling Corporatecrafters and demonic Christiancrafters—], and to assume among the Powers of he Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…” After arousing the American Revolutionists with Common Sense the passionate Thomas Paine closed his argument for armed conflict via Four Letters On Interesting Subjects written between May 22 and July 2, 1776, just days prior to the Declaration on July 4. At tthe close of Letter III the most influential Founder on all others from all walks of life, wrote: “As to Corporations themselves, they are without exception so many badges of kingly tyranny, and tend, like every other species of useless pomp, to the oppression and impoverishment of the place, without one single advangtage arising fron them. They keep up a perpetual spirit of distinction and faction, engross emoluments and advantages to themselvess, which ouggt to be employed to better purposes, and generally get into quarrels and lawsuits with the other part of the inhabitants. They diminish the freedom of every place where they exxist….Butof all Corporations that of Philadelphia is the most osbnoxious, its power resembling that of an hermaphrodite, or is at least a kind of aristocratical Corporation made hereditary by adoption.” The Revolutionists then “Occupied” the entire Colony against ratification of the proposed constitution blank of WeThePeople’s demanded Bill of Rights. This activism led to the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights. The very first words of the Bill exposes the evil intent and purpose of the religioncrafters of today. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of relilgion.” The Founders wanted no part of their children being exposed to a faith/belief in a man-contrived cruel god that creates cruel, evil human beings. The Great Paine to “the species of useless pomp” said it best in The Age of Reason—The Complete Edition: “It is only in the CREATION that all our ideas and conceptions of a WORD OF GOD can unite. The Creation speaks a universal language, independently of human speech or human language, multiplied and various as they may be. It is an ever-existing original, which every many can read. It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. it preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this WORD OF GOD reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God.”

  • Kiwiwriter

    Jane Wegener said,

    on September 20th, 2013 at 6:57 am

    The Southern Povertry Law Center is itself a hate group pent on shutting down any groups or people who disagree with their left wing agenda. Some people on their list of “terrorists” are Christian groups. Whats up with that??? Sorry Law Center you are out of touch with AMERICA!”

    No, Jane, I think you’re out of touch with “AMERICA.”

    Not all of these groups listed are Christian. And not all Americans are Christian, for that matter. Or have you forgotten about the millions of Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, and Native Americans who worship differently? Have you forgotten the First Amendment? How about the Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth?

    Folks like you are usually only familiar with the Second.

    Also, which variety of Christianity holds the single definitive key to salvation? Baptists? Presbyterians? Methodists? Unitarians? Catholics? Episcopalians? Lutherans? Mormons? How about the Westboro Baptist Church? Pat Robertson’s 700 Club? Jimmy Swaggart? Jimmy Bakker? Peter Popoff?

    Pick one…and then tell us how you learned that. Since God must have told you personally, I’d like to hear His other views on other key subjects…like who’s going to pitch for the Yankees next year.

    Also, Jane, I will hazard a guess that you probably have a massive hatred for Muslims. What do you think about Jews? Please fill the room with your thoughts on them.

    And Seth: To whom are you referring when you say, “The only hate on this web-site comes from you!”

  • Seth

    The only hate on this web-site comes from you !

  • supersonic250

    Jane Wegener:

    “Some people on their list of “terrorists” are Christian groups. Whats up with that??? Sorry Law Center you are out of touch with AMERICA!”

    The SPLC does not list terrorists. It lists hate groups. People who lie, intimidate, and spread hatred and fear through these methods. And if you read a single poll ANYWHERE, you’d find that America at large is becoming more and more liberal every day…. So yeah… Who’s out of touch?

  • Jane Wegener

    The Southern Povertry Law Center is itself a hate group pent on shutting down any groups or people who disagree with their left wing agenda. Some people on their list of “terrorists” are Christian groups. Whats up with that??? Sorry Law Center you are out of touch with AMERICA!

  • John H

    “Any of you non-church goers ever had jack-booted government thugs show up on a Sunday morning and force you to go to Church???”

    Or force you to not go to church? The right keeps claiming the government is trying to destroy religion.

    Like Erika I don’t think the jack boots forced anyone to not attend religious services. Spied on a mosque? Probably.

  • John Lofton


  • CM

    If the League of the South connection isn’t enough to make people run from this outfit, consider that Peroutka is a staunch follower of R.J. Rushdoony, the founder of Christian Dominionism, who notoriously taught that Christianity and democracy are incompatible. “The only true order is founded on Biblical Law. All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical law-order [like the U.S. Constitution] represents an anti-Christian religion.” (Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 113).

  • Erika

    Any of you non-church goers ever had jack-booted government thugs show up on a Sunday morning and force you to go to Church???

    didn’t think so.

    See, i just refuted this “institutes’s” entire claim that the Constitution creates a theocracy. In a theocracy, we’d all have to spend every Sunday learning that just about anything that anyone finds to be fun will lead to spending the eternity in the Lake of Fire.

    The real scary part is that they are trying to get this garbage into schools – children are especially prone to indoctrination (which is one reason why right wing churches do things like distribute Chick Tracts to children, sponsor “Hell Houses,” sponsor scout troops, operate day care centers, Bible camps, Bible schools, and apparently “Constitutional” and “historical” lectures – all primarily aimde at indoctrinating children. How many school boards fall for this “Institute on the Constitution” as being a legitimte educatational group and use that material??? How many times – especially in more conservative/Bible Belt areas does it slip by without opposition???

    And on a completely different note: the Daughers of the American Revolution still exist??? Aren’t they the same people who barred black performers from Constitution Hall??? (in this case, maybe literally)

  • Kiwiwriter

    I always am amused by the DAR…Bill Mauldin had a great cartoon about them in 1947…it shows the ghost of Ezra Mulligan of some Pennsylvania Revolutionary War outfit showing up at his great-great-great granddaughter’s DAR meeting.

    The Revolutionary War guy looks like Willie of Mauldin’s WW2 cartoons, only in 1776 gear, a filthy, ragged outfit, unshaven, trying to hug the descendant, who is a snooty society snob in a fancy gown. All the DAR women are passing out with horror and shock at the ghastly ghost at their event.

    Mauldin wrote in the book that accompanied the cartoon that if the DAR had a British officer from 1776 in his wig and uniform and one of Washington’s ragged troops enter one of their events, the DAR would probably kick out the ragged Minuteman and serve sherry to the cultured English officer.

    The DAR’s defining moment, to me, was how they barred Marian Anderson from singing at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, in 1939, on account of the melanin content of her skin, which was more important than her incredible voice.

    As we all know, FDR reacted by staging a gigantic outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial, and Marian had the audience spellbound for the duration.

    She ultimately did play Constitution Hall, but the DAR doesn’t mention that incident too much, I suppose. However, they say that the biggest event in the hall’s history was when General Douglas MacArthur spoke there after Harry Truman fired him for being insubordinate to his commander-in-chief. I guess the DAR ladies liked MacArthur as being “their” kind of revolutionary…right-wing military hero against a liberal Democrat.

  • Gregory

    “I haven’t read the Constitution since high school, many decades ago,” chapter head Betsey Taylor told Hatewatch.

    An apparently common trait of those who demand that we read the Constitution.