Thursday, May 9, 2013

#542: Cory Burnell

Honorable mention at this point goes to Bonnie Burgess and the candidates (April Griffin, Felicia Moss, Wayne Gabb, and Jodi Wood) for the school board of Alachua county, Florida, in 2010 for advocating teaching creationism in public schools (according to a Newspaper survey). The story is here. I frankly don’t know if any of them got elected, but they all represent the danger even relatively low-profile ordinary people may present to civilization on behalf of fundamentalism-motivated denialism.

Though their denialism is in all likelihood a far cry from the raging,  flaming crazy of Burnell. Burnell is a founding Director of the Calaveras County Taxpayers Association and the Calaveras county coordinator of the secessionist Campaign for Liberty. And when ”Liberty” occurs in an organization’s name, you can betcha it’s goal is the exact opposite (reminiscent of how the word ”democratic” would occur in the formal names of certain communist states). Burnell is also a regional leader of the neo-confederate League of the South.

But his main claim to fame and influence is as founding member of Christian Exodus, a dominionist Christian separatist movement that originally attempted to relocate its members to South Carolina with the objective of concentrating enough ideological homogeneity there to influence the political process and create an independent, Christian theocracy. The South Carolina effort eventually failed, and currently the goal of Christian Exodus has been to pull members together into micro-communities, through social networking, and encouraging its members to live through what it calls ”personal secession”. (You can find a brief presentation of various curious secessionist movements here).

It may be worth quoting them: ”[Exodus was] founded […] in response to the moral degeneration of American culture, and the rampant corruption among the powers that be […] with the ultimate goal of forming an independent Christian nation that will survive after the decline and fall of the financially and morally bankrupt American empire. We have learned, however; that the chains of our slavery and dependence upon godless government have more of a hold on us than can be broken by simply moving to another State,” and according to Burnell they wished to create a Constitutional crisis by using concentrations of fanatics (not his term) to influence elections. He was very optimistic about success, since ”there are more Christians than libertarians.” As for the ”personal secession” part, which is really part and parcel of a survivalist paranoia mindset: ”The long process of disentanglement from idolatrous dependencies includes such practices of moving towards a home-centered economy, with intentional community, home-schooling, home-gardening, house churches, health-cost sharing, private exchange, unlicenced ministry, and any other way in which we might live free and godly lives in Christ Jesus, without prostrating ourselves to eat from the hand of the imperial magistrate.” Apparently they also promote naturopathy and ”natural childbirth”.

Here is supporter Mario DiMartino, who wanted to move to South Carolina with his family as part of the original Exodus project: “I want to migrate and claim the gold of the Lord […] I want to replicate the statutes and the mores and the scriptures that the God of the Old Testament espoused to the world.” I am not sure those could be the wishes of any minimally rational or sane being.

A little more background on Burnell is provided here.

Diagnosis: Raving lunatic, of course. One would hope he is relatively harmless, but there are enough terrorist-material fundie dimwits out there to give him a following.

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