Top Prop 8 Donor Funded Proponent of Death Penalty for Gays

The Ahmanson name is attached to some of the most familiar institutions in Los Angeles, including the Ahmanson Theater, the Ahmanson Foundation and Ahmanson Ranch, just to name three. But very few people in these parts — or anywhere, for that matter — know that the heir to the Ahmanson banking fortune that bestowed these institutions on the city is an extremely reclusive ultra-right wing Christian extremist who suffers from Tourettes Syndrome and who was diagnosed with schizophrenia two decades ago.

But Howard F. Ahmanson’s days in obscurity may be ending. Last week, reporter Max Blumenthal uncovered the fact that Ahmanson was the third largest private donor to Proposition 8, the anti-gay initiative that overturned the right of gay people to marry in California. Ahmanson, a long-time donor to anti-gay causes, is a follower and major funder of the late Rousas John Rushdoony, an author and radical theologian who promoted replacing democracy in the United States with a theocratic government.

Regarding Rushdoony, Blumenthal wrote:

Ahmanson’s most controversial episode related to his funding of the religious empire of … Rushdoony, a radical evangelical theologian who advocated placing the United States under the control of a Christian theocracy that would mandate the stoning to death of homosexuals. With Prop 8 organizers claiming in a virtual mantra that their measure will not harm gays or take rights away from heterosexual Californians, Ahmanson has good reason to conceal his involvement in the campaign.

Rushdoony believed that U.S. law should be based on Mosaic laws in the Old Testament. In his 1,894-page screed The Institutes of Biblical Law, Rushdoony advocated instituting the Old Testament’s punishment — death by stoning and other forms of execution — for homosexuality, adultery, incest, lying about one’s virginity and other behaviors.

Ahmanson has said that, unlike his mentor, he does not support the death penalty for gay people. But he was Rushdoony’s biggest supporter, according to Blumenthal:

Describing his philosophy as “Christian Reconstructionism,” Rushdoony painstakingly outlined plans for the church to take over the federal government and “reconstruct” it along biblical lines. He provided detailed plans for how it would provide healthcare, pave roads and reorganize schools, and how it would mete out justice.

Calling for the literal application of all 613 laws described in the Book of Leviticus, Rushdoony paid special attention to punishments. Instead of serving prison sentences, criminals would be sentenced to indentured servitude, whipped, sold into slavery, or executed. “God’s government prevails,” Rushdoony wrote, “and His alternatives are clear-cut: either men and nations obey His laws, or God invokes the death penalty against them.” Those eligible on Rushdoony’s long list for execution included disobedient children, unchaste women, apostates, blasphemers, practitioners of witchcraft, astrologers, adulterers, and, of course, anyone who engaged in “sodomy or homosexuality.”

After Ahmanson’s awakening, R.J. Rushdoony reveled in his discovery of a financial angel willing to fund the growth of his think tank, Chalcedon, while expanding the influence of Reconstructionist philosophy. He rewarded Ahmanson’s generosity by giving him a seat on Chalcedon’s board of directors. Ahmanson was profoundly grateful. At last, in Rushdoony he had found the attentive and approving father he yearned for his whole life. “Howard got to know Rushdoony and Rushdoony was very good to him when he was a young man and my husband was very grateful and supported him to his death,” Roberta Green Ahmanson told me. The Ahmansons were at Rushdoony’s side when he died in February 2001.

In 2001, Ahmanson and his wife donated $1 million to a right-wing Christian front group, the Institute for Religion and Democracy, for the stealth purpose of smearing openly gay Episcopal bishop Eugene Robinson.

Blumenthal concludes: “While the Episcopal global schism represented a towering achievement for Ahmanson, the passage of Prop 8 would be the apotheosis of his long career. He does not seek credit — recognition only damages the causes he funds.”

At the very least, maybe this episode will put the glare of publicity on Ahmanson’s every move from now on.

H/t: Kira


  • Dot
    November 18, 2008 - 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I did read something interesting today about a family. Some one mentioned earlier that family was just a recent concept. Here is a link to a page that talks about a family that was around a long time ago.

  • LoueyNorey
    November 21, 2008 - 12:53 am | Permalink

    Madison – you’re the one who has “mad” in his name! How far down does the DOW have to go before you think seriously about the connection between it and some perverted things? Whatever you do, don’t Google “Zombietime” and click on “Up Your Alley Fair.” If you think life is a joke, I dare you to write out a hair-raising curse against God and post it on this blog’s “comments”! LoueyNorey

  • Madison
    November 21, 2008 - 6:34 am | Permalink

    Dear God, please make LoueyNorey realize it is okay to be gay. Thanks! Madison

  • March 10, 2009 - 4:46 pm | Permalink

    If this guy’s god is all-powerful, why does god need this guys help to spread his hateful message?

    I mean, god must be a real jerk to be all powerful, but then only tell a few nutcases about his plans…

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