Did you know that a group of evangelical Christians is secretly plotting to take over America? They have been working quietly so far, but they are gaining enough strength that their leaders are coming out into the open. If not opposed, these conspirators could soon be guiding much of the U.S. government and influencing its relations with foreign nations….
Many readers of this publication probably wish the above were true! Actually, in a sense, it is true. There does exist a network of evangelical leaders and organizations who are working together to advance their shared values in the political sphere. Their work is “secret” in that they don’t publish copies of their campaign plans. It is “coming out into the open” in that, the more they succeed, the more the media notice (see, e.g., the Wall Street Journal’s July 15, 1992 front-page article on Citizens for Excellence in Education and its strategy to take over school boards across the nation).
Is this a “conspiracy”? Hardly. But Gary Kah, in his book En Route to Global Occupation, uses the same logic to claim that the 30-year-old World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) is seeking to “quietly put as many pieces into place as possible,” and then, with its “large New Age support network,” rush forward to implement a single, worldwide government (p. 78).
There is nothing secret or powerful about the WCPA, whose stationery (which Kah reproduces) carries its Colorado office phone number and which offers to sell its proposed world constitution to all inquirers. (The WCPA’s director, Philip Isely, told me most of his sales are to frightened readers of Kah’s book.) The reason why the WCPA gets so little attention is that so few political leaders take seriously its proposal to replace the United Nations with a world federation. Although Kah calls the WCPA membership a “global Who’s Who” (p. 78), the closest thing to a politically influential American on the list is Jesse Jackson. Isely, like most promoters of generally unaccepted ideas, wishes he could get the press to notice the WCPA more (which shows that even liberal media bias has definite limits)!
Kah’s distortion of the WCPA threat is typical of the flawed logic by which he constructs a conspiracy theory which conforms to his interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Kah, formerly an international trade specialist for the state of Indiana, uses innuendo, false logic, and speculation to create a sensationalistic thesis that liberal policymakers, New Agers, and Masons are working together to establish a new world order.
Political conspiracy theories, like Christian heresies, are not woven wholly out of thin air. Kah is right to point out the enormous behind-the-scenes power wielded by a small handful of extremely wealthy bankers, led by the Rockefeller family. He is right when he warns about the threat posed by centralized power to individual liberty. He is right to point out that New Age devotees are often among the most avid supporters of the goal of one-world government. Having spoken with Kah at length, I am convinced of his Christian spirit and of his deep concern for the purity of the church. But the accurate portions of Kah’s tale are better explained by others (such as Pat Robertson), and most of the story strains plausibility.
Kah rehearses the usual conspiracy theorists’ suspected connections between the New Age movement, a secret Masonic society known as the Illuminati, and Rockefeller-funded organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a 2900-member invitation-only body that serves as a forum for discussions of international affairs. But his evidence consists of little more than identifying occasional interlocking memberships or repeating previous writers’ equally undocumented allegations. He jumps from a discussion of the mystical nature of Freemasonry to the conclusion that Masonry and the New Age movement are “closely connected” (p. 90). He claims that Freemasonry was “partly responsible for inciting the U.S. Civil War” (p. 28), but his only evidence is that Scottish Rite Freemasonry was headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, where the movement to secede from the Union began.
Kah even suggests that former President Bush is “himself involved in the plot” to form a world government: “I wonder how many times a president must publicly mention the phrase ‘New World Order’ before he qualifies for this category?” (p. 173). Kah ignores many facts contrary to his theory, especially the degree to which American foreign policy leaders under Bush continued to assert national sovereignty, often in the face of world opinion (e.g., CFR member Bush steadfastly resisted the global environmental agenda).
It is next to impossible to disprove conspiracy theories to the satisfaction of their advocates, since the doubter can always be stigmatized as either uninformed or part of the plot, but the theorist must present at least a modicum of plausible, verifiable data to be taken seriously. Kah falls short of that standard. Pat Robertson, at the very least, comes closer in his book, The New World Order. Robertson has addressed the CFR (p. 56) and has spoken personally with George Bush and many other policymakers. He is well informed on foreign affairs, and his acknowledgment of the many areas where worldwide cooperation is necessary adds credibility to his critique.
Robertson is strongest when articulating his conservative policy stances, such as his justifiable concern that, through the Federal Reserve Bank, a few unelected, wealthy bankers can exert immense control over the American economy and thereby over national policy. He is weakest when he engages in conspiracy theorizing. For example, he jumps from scanty evidence of Marx’s dependence on secret societies (pp. 68-70) to the assertion of “clear documentation that the occultic-oriented secret societies…played a seminal role in the thinking of Marx and Lenin” (p. 177). Robertson does point out, at times, places where his conspiratorial suspicions lack direct evidence (e.g., p. 178). But he goes ahead with the speculations anyhow.
Robertson’s arguments would be stronger (though he would have sold fewer books) had he omitted completely the material on supposed Masonic conspiracies and New Age links, and stuck to the policy arena. His most serious charges concern the CFR, because people of great political influence (including most American presidents and top Cabinet members) participate in this body. Although its 1992 annual report states that the CFR “takes no institutional position on issues of foreign policy,” Robertson asserts that the CFR, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Harvard University are all “Establishment organizations that desire a one-world government” (p. 98).
The fact that the CFR carries great influence in American foreign affairs is neither new nor secret. But as evidence that the CFR has a one-world agenda, Robertson can cite nothing stronger than a former member’s allegation that most members are aware of its purpose of submerging national sovereignty within “an all-powerful one-world government” (p. 97). In comparison to the overwhelming evidence that CFR members have continued to support America’s national interest (often in opposition to the United Nations), and the small likelihood that several thousand members could agree on such a plan (let alone prevent leakage of solid evidence of the plot), this charge must be considered a distortion.
Even the claims that individual CFR members are promoting a one-world agenda often appear exaggerated. For example, both Robertson and Kah cite a 1974 article in the CFR’s journal in which Richard Gardner, a former State Department official, calls for “building our ‘house of world order’…[by] an end run around national sovereignty.” Robertson sees here an example of how CFR members have “set out to subvert our constitution, our national sovereignty, and our democratic way of life” (p. 109). I doubt Robertson has read the full essay, in which Gardner himself dismisses world federalism and, in the passage excerpted, urges creation of regional (not worldwide) organizations of limited jurisdiction to address specific problems requiring multinational cooperation.
Robertson, unlike Kah, does not vilify George Bush, but he does express his fear that Bush “has become convinced…of the idealistic possibilities of a world at peace under the benign leadership of a forum for all nations” (p. 92). Presumably such words helped to defeat the president whom Robertson’s profamily grassroots organization was working so hard to reelect.
Robertson can justifiably question (as do many conservatives) whether increasing dependence on world organizations is in America’s best interest. This concern has become more pronounced as the U.S. has, in effect, deferred to U.N. leadership in the Gulf War and in Somalia. But now we are in the realm of honest policy debate, not subversive conspiracies.
What does a Christian perspective offer regarding world affairs? I believe it provides a necessary contrast to secular leaders’ faith in their own capacities to create world peace.
Modern technological advances in communication and transportation have made us an increasingly global society. Now tragedies in Eastern Europe and Africa appear instantly on our television screens — and we appear to have the technological and material capacity to address the problems. Secularists — driven by their faith in humankind’s ability to solve our own problems, or at least by their conviction that there is nowhere else to turn — will generally feel compelled to try to do something to fix the problem.
Christian humility, along with our sense of human fallenness, should cause us to recognize that — though human suffering grieves us deeply — we are not always in a position to improve the situation. For example, the best way to “manage the economy” may be to leave it alone; we may have to leave a particular civil war in God’s hands because our intervention would only expand the conflict.
Any Christian convinced of the innate sinfulness of humankind should be concerned about the potential impact on individual liberty of centralized power. And warnings not to place too much trust in the U.N. or any other world governing body are especially timely at this point in human history. But as Christians seeking to give an effective, credible witness for the Kingdom of God, we should base our public-policy advocacy on verifiable facts and sound logical arguments, not hearsay, suspicion, and unverifiable conspiracy theories fueled by our own end-times expectations.
—Reviewed by Bruce BarronBruce Barron (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh), author of Heaven on Earth? The Social and Political Agendas of Dominion Theology (Zondervan, 1992), is an aide to Congressman Rick Santorum (R — PA).