Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, “Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.’”
— Joshua 1:10-11
Upon the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader of the Israelites and led them in the conquest Canaan — which he carried out with quite ruthless thoroughness. At Jericho, the finale of the siege is described thus:
So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
— Joshua 6:20-21
Only the household of Rahab “the harlot” was spared as she had earlier concealed two of Joshua’s spies. Joshua dealt with various other Canaanite cities in pretty much the same bloody-minded fashion, getting big thumbs up from God all along the way.
Cut to 3200 years later:
“This is the land of MTV, Internet porn, abortion, homosexuality, greed, and accomplished selfishness.” … Giants stalk America, “giants that live in the fields of the law, government, journalism, and history. And we are going to look in depth at the elite colleges and universities of our nation. The enemies of freedom and truth dominate these institutions and thereby dominate our nation.” — Farris, Michael, The Joshua Generation, pp 11-12 as quoted in Goldberg, Michelle, Kingdom Coming, p 2.
Michael Farris, a protégé of Tim “Left Behind” LaHaye, has been America’s leading exponent of Christian homeschooling since 1983 when he founded the Home School Legal Defense Association. Farris is also the founder of Patrick Henry College, an evangelical “liberal arts” college which, despite only being in operation since 2000 and admitting less than 100 students per class, has placed interns with at least 22 members of congress and on Karl Rove’s staff. In spring of 2004, 7 out of about 100 White House interns came from this one school. More recently he has started a movement called “Generation Joshua” which, while perhaps not exhorting that one’s opponent’s children and sheep ought be put to the sword, seeks to inspire the current generation of homeschooled students to use politics to reclaim America from its secular Canaanites with a martial fervor worthy of Joshua’s Israelites.
Then Joshua … and all Israel with him … fought against Libnah: And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho.
And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it: And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah. Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.
— Joshua 10:29-33
Farris, seeing the parents as kind of home-school issei, refers to them as the Moses generation, “because they have successfully led their children out of the bondage of the godless public schools” (Goldberg, 1). The nisei, Generation Joshua, will fulfill the the promise of the homeschool movement when they “engage wholeheartedly in the battle to take the land” (Farris quoted in Goldberg, 2).
According to Goldberg (p 2-3):
What Farris wants is a cultural revolution. He’s trying to train a generation of leaders, unscathed by secularism, who will gain political power in order to subsume everything—entertainment, law, government, and education—to Christianity, or their version of it. [...] Through Generation Joshua, launched in 2004 to involve homeschooled teenagers in politics, children are becoming Republican foot soldiers before they can vote. In its first year, Generation Joshua paid all the travel and living expenses for hundreds of homeschooled students who volunteered on right-wing political campaigns nationwide, rewarding the most productive with scholarships to Patrick Henry.
While the front page of the GenJ (as they call it) website has a kind of cheery “Hey kids! Politics!” take on things, the logo for the organization shows someone blowing a ram’s horn and brandishing a sword. The web site describes GenJ’s mission thus:
Generation Joshua is designed for Christian youth between the ages of 11 and 19 who want to become a force in the civic and political arenas. Our goal is to ignite a vision in young people to help America return to her Judeo-Christian foundations. We provide students with hands-on opportunities to implement that vision.
In America today, battles are being waged over many issues—from judicial activism to attacks on traditional marriage to the moral disintegration of our society. In the midst of the battles, we can lose sight of where our nation has come from, and these pressing concerns could crush our hope for America’s future.
John Winthrop, then governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, wrote in 1630 concerning New England and America: “We shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” He warned that “if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.” Generation Joshua wants America to be a perpetual city on a hill. We seek to inspire every one of our members with the kind of faith that sees beyond our present circumstances to what America can become—if each one of us consistently impacts our sphere of influence for Christ and for His glory.
The site banner includes John Trumbull’s famous painting Declaration of Independence. Of course, it’s a bit more difficult to find ringing endorsements of Christian nations from the founders than from 17th century puritans.
And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it: And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish. [Yeah, yeah, whole lotta smitin' goin' on...]
And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it: And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein.
— Joshua 10:34-37
There is a thread that runs through not just Farris’s projects, but other similar fundie organisations. Farris’s college is named after Patrick Henry, GenJ wants you to associate it with the Declaration of Independence, Jerry Falwell founded Liberty University. It’s possible that they’re just trading on the association with the founders, but it strikes me that there is some definition of “freedom” or “liberty” that is being pushed that is, shall we say, not precisely congruent with what Jefferson and Madison had in mind.
GenJ’s director Ned Ryun, a homeschooler himself and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, sees his job as teaching kids to translate their proper biblical worldview into terms that mainstream society can accept. Ryun is quoted by Goldberg (p 3-4):
“A lot of time in the public debate Christians will say, ‘Well, the Bible says so,’ or ‘God says this is wrong,’” explains Ryun. “And that’s true. God is not for same sex marriages. God believes that the Bible protects life.” In public though,, “you usually have to use terms and facts that the other side accepts as reasonable. What I’m trying to do with young people is, let’s take the Bible and the Constitution, and let’s look at current events. What does the Bible have to say about it? Let’s get a firm, solid biblical worldview, and then learn how to communicate that in terms that the other side accepts.”
Russell Cobb of Slate agrees that Generation Joshua and Patrick Henry College are good examples of how the right-wing culture warriors have learned from their earlier battles, and notes a similar approach is “embraced by the many faith-based organizations Goldberg profiles. For example, Leslee Unruh, ‘the doyenne of the chastity industry,’ who helped her organization, Abstinence Clearinghouse, land a $2.7 million contract with the Department of Health and Human Services in 2002, does her best to promote the cause in secular terms—never mind how strained: Her claim that postponing sex until marriage is good for promoting ‘simultaneous orgasms’ lacks, shall we say, a scientific ring.”
However, citing the fissures that can be found between various factions, Cobb finds Goldberg’s overall take on Christian Nationalism a bit pessimistic. Indeed, he finds Patrick Henry College itself to be “a perfect example of tensions within the conservative Christian fold”:
In May , five of the school’s 16 faculty members left the school over a debate about how to read non-Christian texts. Farris, the school’s founder, publicly rebuked a rhetoric professor for not mentioning the Bible in a lecture about St. Augustine last fall. Other professors—many of them evangelicals themselves—complained of “arbitrary limitations” on what they could say in class. As the debate heated up in March, two professors wrote in the school newspaper: “When we examine the works of any author, professed Christian or otherwise, the proper question is not ‘Is this man a Christian?’ but ‘is this true?’ ” They resigned a day later.
There are about 1-2 million homeschool students in the US. There is an industry dedicated to providing them with materials that recast the complexities of earlier American history as a story of Christian triumphs and recent times as an unparalleled threat to that heritage from the blight of liberalism. Michael Farris would like these kids to go forth under the banner of Joshua as cultural and political warriors in the cause of Christianity and the GOP.
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it: And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king. So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.
— Joshua 10:38-40