People’s Rights Figure
Location: Boise, Idaho
Diego Rodriguez is a frequent speaker at People’s Rights events, including early meetings that gave rise to the organization. He is pastor of the Boise Freedom Tabernacle Church in Boise, Idaho. The church promotes “Christian Dominion,” described as “the duty of taking dominion over the Earth.” Christian Dominionism is a form of Christian nationalism, arguing that Christians should take the reins of political and cultural power. Rodriquez’s Boise-based Dominion Books is dedicated to “equipping believers to take dominion in this world.” Rodriguez also serves as the Communications and Marketing Director for the Freedom Man Political Action.
Rodriguez’s involvement in theocratic politics was seen in September 2016 when he signed onto “An Open Letter to Christian pastors, leaders, and believers who assist in the anti-Christian Progressive political movement in America.” Calling on progressive religious leaders to “repent of their work that often advances a destructive liberal political agenda,” the letter included the antisemitic canard that “wealthy, anti-Christian foundations, following the lead of billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, fund and ‘rent’ Christian ministers as ‘mascots’ serving as surprising validators for their causes.”
Continuing themes that animate a broad swath of the nationalist far-right, the letter declared,
“In the ironic rhetoric of compassion, Soros and friends also fund mass immigration followed by redistricting schemes and ‘voting’ (sic) ‘rights’… One wonders if the end goal is the destruction of national identity through demoralization, open borders and debt, thus the ‘fundamental transformation’ (weakening) of American civil society for their leveraged global power. (They have done this to other nations.)”
Several prominent Christian nationalists and Christian Right leaders joined Rodriguez in signing the letter, including multiple anti-choice groups, representatives of the anti-LGBTQ American Family Association, Pat Robertson’s Regent University, and Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton.
Another signatory of the letter was Jay Grimstead of the Coalition on Revival (CoR), a trans-denominational coalition that has brought together a range of tendencies on the Christian Right, detailed by Frederick Clarkson. One of its early leaders was R.J. Rushdoony, founder in 1965 of the Christian Reconstructionist Chalcedon Foundation.
Another of Diego Rodriguez’s projects, the creationist 4th Day Alliance, took him into the world of Christian Reconstructionism. In December 2010 Rodriguez’s creationist efforts led to an appearance at the Trinity Covenant Church in Fresno, California – a church whose website declares that “R.J. Rushdoony is the greatest theologian of the last century.” Rodriguez’s work on creationism subsequently drew high praise in a 2007 issue of Faith for All Life, a magazine published by the Chalcedon Foundation.
If Christian Dominionism is a form of Christian nationalism, Christian Reconstructionism represents its most radical form. Christian Reconstructionists argue that its adherents’ version of the Bible should be the governing document in the United States, creating what one leading movement “theologian” termed “Biblical theocratic republics.” Christian Reconstructionism’s defining texts were released in 1973 by R.J. Rushdoony. Among other things, Rushdoony argued that “Biblical law” demands the death penalty for members of the LGBTQ community, those having sex before marriage, incorrigible juveniles, and practitioners of witchcraft, among other categories of people.
Rodriguez’s Tabernacle Church promotes the bigoted view that “Homosexuality is an abomination unto God and to all Christians.” The church has also promoted equality-gutting policy positions akin to Cleon Skousen’s National Center for Constitutional Studies. This includes opposing “state-run educational institutions that have no authority in the Word of God” and viewing “Government subsidies,” such as “welfare, food stamps, subsidized housing, state run health care (i.e. Medicare, etc.), social security and publicly funded education,” as an “unlawful expansion of state government into areas of life that are ordained by God to be fulfilled by church and families.”
Rodriguez’s Freedom Man Political Action Committee has hosted at least one “reopen” event and declared that “everybody who attends a weak church that shut its doors because of the ‘coronavirus scare’ should leave that church immediately.” The Freedom Man PAC contends that “COVID-19 hysteria is a giant scam” and that the disease is akin to the claim that black people are disproportionately killed by police – that is, both are “false narrative[s]…being done in order to empower government in ways previously unimagined.”
Rodriguez also displayed the very nature of settler colonialism during the August 1 People’s Rights event in Nezperce, Idaho. After being informed that they were on Nez Perce land, Rodriguez told tribal police, “Yeah man, you guys are the tribe guys. We get you. This is your property, man, we get it. We thank you for letting us come. It is your land, but in America, we get to do what we want to do” [Italics added]. A defining feature of settler colonialism in U.S. history has been that, even when the federal and state governments and citizens voice respect for tribal rights, Americans “do what we want to do” in Indian Country.
 Where not specified, this account is based on Tanner, Chuck. “People’s Rights Demonstrates Far-Right Roots, Again.” Institute for Research and Education for Human Rights. August 17, 2020. https://www.irehr.org/2020/08/17/peoples-rights-protest-demonstrates-far-right-roots-again/. See this source for original sources.
 TruthPR. “A Call to Repentance & Renewal.” TruthPR.Com. October 5, 2016. https://www.truthpr.com/a-call-to-repentance-renewal/. Other targets of the letter’s animus include common far-right sound-bites such as “abandonment of the biblical view of marriage,” a “transgender agenda,” “welfare dependency,” “heightened racial division and tension,” “forced refugee resettlement” with “‘Refugees’ [that] are primarily non-assimilating Muslims,” “hostility towards Judeo-Christian religion,” efforts to “‘counter Christians and the Tea Party in the media” and supporting the “rights of jihadists and Sharia advocates.”
 For a thorough discussion of these political theologies, see Clarkson, Frederick. Eternal Hostility: The Struggle between Theocracy and Democracy. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press. 1997.
 For more on Christian Reconstructionism, see Montana Human Rights Network. “Christian Reconstructionism.” MHRN website. 2009. https://mhrn.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ChristianReconstruction.pdf.
 Freedom Tabernacle. “Articles of Faith.” Freedom Tabernacle website. Undated. https://www.freedomtabernacle.net/articles-of-faith/.
 Steele, Gunner. “Scriptural Proof You Need to Leave Your Church.” Freedom Man. July 6, 2020. https://www.freedomman.org/2020/scriptural-proof-you-need-to-leave-your-church/.
 Steele, Gunner. “How COVID-19 and White Racists are the Same.” Freedom Man Political Action Committee. April 2, 2020. https://www.freedomman.org/2020/covid-19-and-white-racists-are-the-same/.
 North Idaho Exposed. “Justice for Sean Anderson: The Command Center.” August 2, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5CEgJoptLc.
Inside the Far-Right People's Rights Network
A Special Report of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and the Montana Human Rights Network
Copyright © 2020. Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.