After his 2-1 reversal of his conviction for money laundering, Tom DeLay is back raising money for a new campaign: the Josiah Project which seeks to reintroduce faith and morality into politics. In one interview with Matthew Hagee, the son of controversial paster John Hagee, DeLay lamented the lack of morality in Washington and “the Hammer” added a celestial framer to the usual list of Madison, Mason, and others.
DeLay, who was widely blamed for the brass-knuckled, take-no-prisoners politics in Congress while he was majority leader, says that he was actually a force for faith in Congress. As we have seen developing as a theme internationally, he blamed the secret cabal of secularists who have worked to “push us further and further away” from a faith-filled government. and believers need ”stand up and be unashamedly a follower of Jesus Christ” and push for Christian values in our society. DeLay spoke of closing off the Rotunda to citizens to allow members to drop to get down on their knees and “seek the face of God.”
He then added that the “God created this nation [and] that He wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on biblical principles.” I assume that he is not referring to such wonky elements as the Separation of Power, federalism, and other elements as divinely written. The Committee on Detail struggled with language on such issues in a particularly mundane way. Indeed, James Madison was focused more on the factional divisions and weaknesses of Man than the image of God in crafting the components of the federal system. I also presume that the Articles of Confederation must have not been written by God since it was such a failure.
The Josiah Project (not to be confused with Project Josiah or other Josiah Projects by the same name) seeks to establish the Constitution as a document of faith that is “based upon a higher authority.” DeLay warned that we have to reintroduce religion and faith into government “[o]therwise we’ll find ourselves where we are where man gets to define what truth is and everything crumbles.”
Some may find DeLay an unlikely messenger for such a message given the view by many that he played politics on the very edge of legality. DeLay was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy charges in an illegal campaign finance scheme tied to the 2002 elections. His supporters insisted that the case was political and a vendetta by Ronnie Earle, the Democratic District Attorney of Travis County. However, a grand jury indicted DeLay and he was convicted after Senior District Judge Pat Priest of San Antonio found that he could stand trial on money laundering and conspiracy. In November 2010, he was convicted on both counts and sentenced to three years in prison. DeLay appealed his conviction to the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District at Austin, which overturned the conviction in a 2-1 decision with Justice Melissa Goodwin writing that “Rather than supporting an agreement to violate the election code, the evidence shows that the defendants were attempting to comply with the Election Code limitations on corporate contributions.” The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is now reviewing the 3rd Court of Appeals’ decision.
DeLay’s Big Bang Theory of Constitution law is difficult to square with the Constitutional Convention record showing other sources for the components of the Constitution and rivaling theories as to the ideal balancing of the branches. He could be referring more generally to some elements like property rights and individual freedoms. For example, the takings clause and property rights have often been linked to Locke who saw a divinely ordained basis for claiming property from what was once left in common by God. His “labor theory” for private property is a touchstone of Neo-Conservative legal theory in the United States.
The project appears to be an offshoot of the National Prayer Center and is named for King Josiah of Israel. Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight and is credited with rebuilding the temple. It was during this renovation that the High Priest Hilkiah discovered the Book of the Law or “the book of the law of Yahweh by the hand of Moses.” The Hammer appears on the same mission to tell politicians it is Yahweh or the highway when it comes to faith-based politics.