Dear Jon Stewart: Yes, Dan Webster Really IS That Extreme!

Let's see. Jon Stewart was oh-so-holier-than-thou last night when, taking part in some "on the other hand" false equivalence that would have done any Villager proud, he denounced Alan Grayson's Taliban Dan ad as extreme, showing a clip that he says proves it was taken out of context. (Clearly, he was depending on the finding by, a group bloggers know to double-check.) It's not really taken out of context when someone is associated with an extreme fundamentalist sect -- one that believes death by stoning should be the punishment for "sins" like astrology.

Via Digby:

Another expert on the Religious Right, Bruce W. Wilson who writes at Talk2Action, has delved into Daniel Webster's ties to Christian Reconstructionists and writes this fascinating piece for Alternet. He notes Webster's continuing association with Bill Gothard, (at whose Institute Webster was recorded making his remarks about women submitting to their husbands in 2009):

As an August 5, 1996 article in the Gainesville Sun quoted Webster, ‘I respect (Bill Gothard) as much as anybody. ..

Bill Gothard, in turn, was a close ally of R.J. Rushdoony, considered the father of Christian Reconstructionism and founder of the movement’s flagship institution, the Chalcedon Institute.

As Vice President of the Chalcedon Institute Martin Selbrede stated in the Institute’s March/April 2010 issue of Faith For All Of Life, the only reason Bill Gothard didn’t agree to use Chalcedon founder R.J. Rushdoony’s monumental Institutes of Biblical Lawtome in Gothard’s sprawling evangelical empire is that the two couldn’t agree on divorce. Rushdoony’sInstitutes was a template for instituting Biblical law in government (for more on Reconstructionism, see story appendix.)

As Selbrede wrote,

“[T]he divide between Gothard and Rushdoony on divorce was a deep and abiding one. Gothard proposed using Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law as a resource for his massive ministry; the sheer volume of the resulting sales would have made Rushdoony both rich and famous. Gothard’s condition for moving forward on this was letter-simple: Rushdoony merely needed to remove the section on divorce from his book, and the highly profitable deal would be sealed.

Rushdoony refused the offer.”

So, while Gothard was categorically opposed to divorce, Rushdoony, a virulently racist Holocaust denier who espoused Geocentrism, was a little more liberal on divorce. In other words, the two men were otherwise in substantial agreement – except for the sticking point of divorce, they both agreed that Rushdoony’s vision for Biblical law should be imposed upon America.That vision included instituting stoning as a form of capital punishment for rape, kidnapping, murder, heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, “sodomy or homosexuality,” incest, striking a parent, extreme juvenile delinquency, and “unchastity before marriage.”

Daniel Webster’s association with Bill Gothard’s Institute For Basic Life Training has continued into the present, and a speech Webster made at a Nashville IBLP conference in 2009 has now become a source of controversy due to a new Alan Grayson campaign ad. Grayson is currently taking a media drubbing because of a campaign ad that calls Grayson’s political opponent, Republican Daniel Webster, “Taliban Dan.”

An assessment from, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, [is saying] that a new Graysoncampaign ad attacking Grayson’s political opponent, Republican Daniel Webster, [was] allegedly taking out of context statements Webster made in a speech at a 2009 conference of a religious organization called the “Institute of Basic Life Principles.”

Die-hard religious right researchers at are challenging’s immediate charge, and Religion Dispatches editor Sarah Posner calls out for blandly describing Bill Gothard’s IBLP as a ”non-denominational Christian organization that runs programs and training sessions.”

Many across the political spectrum appear appalled by the Grayson campaign’s “Taliban” label but Daniel Webster’s nearly three-decade long, intimate involvement with the Bill Gothard and the Institute For Basic Life Principles suggests that the label may be less than hyperbolic.


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