The podcast setup at first appears familiar: a pair of white dudes, mic’d up at a table, wrestling out loud with big ideas. But the conversation between the two men veers, without guardrails, into a dystopian vision of a Christian nationalist America, in which the laws of the Old Testament have been substituted for the constitution and the community is responsible for executions, including for people who cheat on their spouses.
Those executions, the men propose, should be done by stoning, the public act of hurling rocks at a condemned person until they are bludgeoned to death.
“Stoning is appropriately barbaric,” argues Luke Saint, the author of the Sound Doctrine of Theocracy and a recent guest on the podcast of the Lancaster Patriot, a far-right publication based in Lancaster Pennsylvania, an hour-and-a-half drive west of Philadelphia.
“That means there’s no closed doors. There’s nothing in the back room, where you’re just executed quickly and quietly — out of the sight of the public,” he adds. With stoning, Saint advocates, “Everyone knows who the accuser is. And everybody knows who the victim is. Everyone knows who the perpetrator is. Everything’s out in the open.”
“Nobody wants to do it,” Saint says. “And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
Foes of Christian nationalism are frequently derided as hysterical when they compare the movement to the Taliban, or the fictional Gilead of The Handmaid’s Tale. But as this podcast illuminates, there are factions of Christian nationalists who don’t just want to take America back to its supposed Christian origins. They seek to jettison our constitutional system of checks and balances in favor of a government based on biblical law, including reviving punishments that clash violently with modern notions of human rights.
Saint is an extremist, but he’s not a nobody, and he’s not alone. His interviewer is the Patriot’s managing editor, Chris Hume, who has editorialized that America’s path forward must be “blazed by setting a clear course towards a Christian society, based on the Bible and biblical law.” (Hume also believes that the GOP’s current crop of far-right candidates are far too squishy: “Until politicians like [Doug] Mastriano and [Ron] DeSantis begin operating on a platform of biblical law, they will only propagate the problems.”)
Saint’s book purports to answer the question: “If Christians were to be presented with an opportunity to create a new government, what would we create?” He is also the chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Reformation Society (MARS), which touts that the Bible provides “all necessary directions and instructions for a just, happy, and productive society.”
Hume sets up the conversation with Saint about stoning, hyping “a great part of your book” that may be “controversial, perhaps” for listeners. “Biblically,” Hume says, “you have a system where the citizenry is responsible for seeing that justice is done, right?” He adds: “Society itself has to be the one to purge the evil.”
For Saint, a key part of this revived biblical justice, is recognizing what trespasses truly merit this death penalty. “First off,” he says, “we need to realize that whatever sin requires stoning is more barbaric than the act of stoning itself. Christians have lost that idea,” he argues. “We’re like, ‘Oh, stoning is worse than adultery.’ No, no, no! Adultery is worse than stoning.”
The two men agree that stoning is not “an anarchy” or “mob violence” because civil “magistrates” would be involved in the process. And then the trial participants would have to carry out the judgment. “Those same people have to throw the stone. It makes it difficult,” Saint says, calling stoning a “high maintenance event.”
In fact, the true reason stoning will be hard to revive, Saint suggests conspiratorially, “is because it makes innocent blood a difficult thing to access.” He adds of our nation’s leaders: “They want to kill people, and they don’t want to have to bear the consequences of it.”
Saint did not respond to an interview request.
Hume answered questions from Rolling Stone via email. Asked to explain his biblical worldview, Hume insisted: “The Bible not only offers a better path to a just society than our current American system does, but it offers the only path to a just society.”
When pressed on the horrific nature of stoning, he conceded: “I also find the notion of taking up stones in the form of capital punishment against duly convicted criminals to be a shock to my modern sensibilities.” But he insisted, “it is not unjust,” and added: “The requirement that those bringing the charge must be first to put the convicted criminal to death serves as a safeguard against baseless accusations.”
As for making the non-crime of adultery a crime punishable by death, he wrote: “there are other things that the Bible classifies as crimes that a loving society would recognize if transformed by the gospel, for the good of neighbor and the glory of God. Adultery,” he insisted, “is one of those crimes, and many early American communities recognized that.”
The podcast aired several weeks ago, but has not been previously reported. This week the Lancaster Patriot has a new story promoting Saint and an upcoming Future of Christendom Conference sponsored by MARS. That conference will feature a public debate: “Is ‘Gay Christian’ a Biblically Acceptable Identity for a Member of Christ’s Church?”
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