In my story today, I quote Gov. Rick Perry’s (R-Texas) incredibly specific reading suggestion for the audience at the Values Voter Summit.
“Lately,” said Perry, “I’ve found myself going back to a book that’s titled ‘The 5000 Year Leap.’”
There were head nods and noises of approval from many members of the audience. That book, written by the late ultra-conservative scholar-cum-conspiracy theorists Cleon Skousen, had been rescued from 28 years of obscurity by Glenn Beck. Perry gave an accurate summary of its content, telling the audiences that Skousen “shares his views of the foundational elements of our nation, placing a special emphasis in faith in God–I think undeniably a source of America’s remarkable success. He asserts that natural law, God’s law, is the basis of our nation’s laws.”
It’s worth pointing out how surprising this is.
Skousen, as Alexander Zaitchek wrote last week, was a scholar-turned-conspiracy theorist whose “The 5,000 Year Leap” re-packages Mormon ethics into an argument that the founding fathers were inspired by 28 “fundamental” and divine beliefs in the creation of America.
Perry’s comments reminded me of a forgotten moment from the 2008 campaign, when Mitt Romney got into a heated exchange with a radio host who had theological objections to Mormonism. A grainy video of that exchange is here.
“Cleon Skousen has a book called ‘A Thousand Years,’” said Romney, arguing against the rumor that he believed the Second Coming would happen in Missouri. “Christ appears, it’s throughout the Bible, Christ appears in Jerusalem, splits the Mount of Olives to stop the war that’s coming to kill all the Jews. Our church believes that.”
It’s strange to hear prominent national Republicans telling people to read Skousen. Here’s a short video introduction to the man.