is a Christian secessionist
group promoting a mass emigration of fundamentalist Christians to South Carolina
with the goal of influencing politics in the state. It claims anywhere from 15 families to 1500 individual members.
According to their literature, Christian Exodus believes that the United States
has strayed from its founding vision, and they refer to their program as restoring the nation to its Puritan
roots. The group's mission statement reads:
ChristianExodus.org is an association of Christians who no longer wish to live under the unjust usurpation of powers by the federal government, and therefore resolves to formally disassociate itself from this tyrannical authority, and return to the model of governance of a constitutional republic. We seek a republican government constrained by constitutionally delegated powers. If this cannot be achieved within the United States, then we believe a peaceful withdrawal from the union to be the last available remedy.
In particular, they focus on the following issues:
- Oppose the increasing acceptance of homosexuality, and especially of civil unions or outright gay marriage. The group maintains that, "...sexual conduct outside the bonds of marriage is not a God-given right. Therefore, homosexual activity is a behavior that a state may regulate and legislate against."
- Abolish public funding for education, and to protect homeschooling. The group "...prefers the privatization of education whether in the form of private schools or home schooling because public administration is far less efficient and immorally taxes citizens not receiving the service paid for."
- Repealing State and Federal laws that they believe violate the right to keep and bear arms.
- Repealing court rulings that they feel abuse the power of eminent domain, and that they fear will lead to arbitrary seizure.
- They fear laws will soon be passed defining the practice of Christianity as a hate crime.
- They feel the rights of fathers are not upheld in child custody cases.
- Repealing the Fourteenth Amendment, which defined state and federal citizenship and secured civil rights to former slaves. Christian Exodus says "The Amendment was properly voted on and properly rejected; only after the dissenting states were not allowed a vote was the Amendment passed. (...) We hold that it is the obligation of the various States to nullify this Amendment and all laws and court rulings arising from it."
- Repealing the Sixteenth Amendment, which permits the taxation of all forms of income by the Federal Government.
- Repealing of the Seventeenth Amendment, which requires popular election of Senators.
- Assert that states should have power to prohibit the immigration and/or naturalization of such persons as each sees fit to exclude.
History and affiliations
Christian Exodus was modeled after the Free State Project
, a libertarian
group that aims to relocate libertarians to New Hampshire
. Christian Exodus' founding documents contained language very similar to that in the Free State Project's Statement of Intent and Participation Guidelines, but founder Cory Burnell
has aimed recruiting at an ideologically different segment of the population. It has announced intentions to move people to selected cities and counties of South Carolina in stages, with each stage timed to influence a particular election cycle. The group has the stated goal of relocating more than 50,000 people. The first city in South Carolina targeted is Anderson, South Carolina
. The group claims that some 15 families have relocated. In addition to South Carolina, the group announced in the Fall of 2007 that Christian Exodus supporters would also settle in Gem County
Throughout 2004 Christian Exodus worked closely with the League of the South to build support in South Carolina, but in recent years has distanced itself publicly from the League. A 2006 goal to relocate 12,000 individuals to South Carolina was not met. To date the group claims that only about 15 families have relocated to South Carolina. Founder Cory Burnell still resides in California despite his own earlier efforts to relocate.
In late 2007 the group announced that a separate contingent in Idaho had been founded. According to reports the group is made up of several families already settled in Gem County, Idaho who share the original view of Christian Exodus, but are unwilling to relocate to South Carolina. The group is led by Paul Smith, an active member of the Constitution Party of Idaho and former Congressional candidate. In the spring of 2008, Cory Burnell stepped down as head of the organization, citing his inability to find work in South Carolina, and subsequently Keith Humphrey became the Executive Director of the organization.
Christian Exodus and the Constitution Party share a number of members, especially in the former's leadership, and have co-authored a website called the "Save America Summit which promotes Constitution Party Presidential candidates and Christian Separatist ideology.