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TESTING THE FAITH

Fed-up Christian families moving toward 'secession'

Group attracts over 700 members in past year as citizens begin transplanting to S. Carolina


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Will Christians move to places like Kiawah Island, S.C.?

A year after suggesting possible secession from the United States, a group of Christians fed up with American laws they believe are at odds with the Bible is beginning to move to its target state of South Carolina.

ChristianExodus.org has attracted more than 700 members from across America since WND broke the news of its inception last May, and already a half-dozen families have picked up and transplanted to the Palmetto State.

“A year ago, no one had moved. It was just a project on the board,” said Cory Burnell, a financial adviser who is president of ChristianExodus. “Now, it’s actually happening. Whether it’s a couple of years or 20 years, we’re gonna get it done.”

Calling the legalization of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts the straw that broke the camel’s back, the group was inspired to concentrate like-minded Christians in a single area to influence local laws, with secession a possibility. Recent Supreme Court decisions regarding the seizure of private property and the debate over the public display of the Ten Commandments have only served to strengthen the resolve of many.

“We, like other believers, as well as many other conservatives have seen the political situation in the United States dominated by liberals over the last 40 years, whether they were in power or not,” says Mike Sawyer, who is looking to make the move. “The ‘conservative Republican’ party has let the people who have worked to get them elected down repeatedly. The latest ‘filibuster disaster’ regarding judicial nominees is a case in point. Basically, a handful of Republican senators decided to cave in to the liberals, again. We believe that this can only be turned around with a concentrated effort in one state.”

But is splitting away from the U.S. a serious option?

“The thought of secession is a last resort strategy,” Sawyer said. “We hope to work within the system as much as possible in order to restore a true constitutional government.”

That sentiment is echoed by Frank Janoski, who moved his wife, Tammy, and their four children from Mohrsville, Pa., to South Carolina in February.

“I believe we can work with ‘the system’ if you will to effect the outcome of local elections and certainly the CE theory is to do this county by county,” Janoski said, “but I do not discount the possibility that the federal government or the rest of the ‘union’ may not agree with our objectives or core politics. So secession may be a very real alternative – and is as I believe our constitutional right if things lead to that.”

“I’m about as patriotic as anyone you’ll ever meet,” says Charles Lewis, who moved his family of four from the nation’s capital for the opportunity to raise his children in a wholesome, Christian-friendly environment. “However, the secession option is firmly in the Constitution – it’s the linchpin of the whole thing, [the] ultimate safety valve.”

Nevertheless, Lewis’ love for America remains clear.

“The USA is God’s country, the greatest nation of modern times,” he told WND. “We’ve fed the world, fought its wars, sent out more missionaries to spread the word of God than any other. Our Declaration and Constitution were divinely inspired.”

ChristianExodus members are coordinating with the Constitution Party, the political party most closely aligned with the goals of Burnell’s group. Those who make the move are expected to play an active role in local and state politics, with many looking to run for elected office.

Burnell says he’s excited about the movement due to the sheer youth of those involved.


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Cory Burnell

“Most of our leadership is in their twenties, thirties and forties,” he said. “We’re a project driven by young people. We’re not going anywhere – except South Carolina.”

Though ChristianExodus does not have any test for citizenship, it does post a statement of beliefs on its website. Burnell says Catholics, Mormons and even Jews are members, all looking to reestablish constitutionally limited government founded upon Christian principles.

When news of the movement first came out last year, both ChristianExodus and WND received both positive and negative reaction, with critics saying:

  • “Talk about giving the ‘left’ a weapon from our weakness! These Christians are asking the state that started the Civil War to leave the U.S., and start a new country? With ideas like this, we won’t need a devil.” (Peter Ward)

  • “Those ‘Christian secessionists’ are just not thinking properly. Their heads are just as muddled as the rest of the citizens. They should be arrested for high treason against the USA. … An independent ‘Christian state’ where the vast majority of the ‘Christian’ population is prayerless and continues to be addicted to TV entertainment is far from being the solution. (James Chai)

    In response to such criticism from the Christian community, Burnell says, “They do most anything to cop out. I don’t put too much weight into people who aren’t doing anything.”

    The group is planning to hold a conference the weekend of Oct. 15-16 in Greenville, S.C., to include speakers and vendors such as real estate agents for those considering a change in residency.

    Ironically, Burnell, who last year was living in Texas, has moved west to California due to a family commitment, but he says he does plan on moving east to South Carolina.

    “Why not go to the liberal bastion to motivate yourself to get out?” he said.

    Previous stories:

    Christian secession talk
    sparks flood of reaction

    Christians look to form
    ‘new nation’ within U.S.

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