Bill Heid and Kirk Cameron. Source.
By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
Content note: anti-black, racist language.
Three years after championing a providential view of history in his movie Monumental, former child star Kirk Cameron has joined forces with Marshall Foster and Bill Heid to create and promote an audio drama based on G.A. Henry’s 1890 book, With Lee In Virginia.
Ever since starring in Left Behind, Cameron has enthusiastically embraced the Christian Reconstructionist worldview, a worldview that Foster has long promoted through the World History Institute. In her 2015 book on Christian Reconstructionism Building God’s Kingdom, scholar Julie Ingersoll notes the following: “When I told Foster that I was writing about the influence of [Christian Reconstructionism founder] R.J. Rushdoony, he embraced Rushdoony’s influence on all his work, and indeed, it is Rushdoony’s philosophy of history that Foster articulates throughout the film [Monumental].” A friend of Doug Phillips’s, Bill Heid is a self-proclaimed “expert of Christian history” and the Executive Producer of Heirloom Audio Productions.
Heirloom Audio Productions specializes in creating audio dramas based on stories by G.A. Henty. As Heid says on his website, he “turned to the adventure books of G.A. Henty for rich, exciting story material.” Henty lived from 1832-1902 and was, ironically, a universalist and racist evolutionist who wrote popular historical adventure stories. Despite his beliefs in universalism, white supremacy, and evolution, conservative Christians who fetishize the U.S. Antebellum South (like Doug Phillips and Marshall Foster) have long adored Henty’s books, which are ripe with defenses of southern slavery, idyllic depictions of slaves adoring their masters, and thickly patriarchal gender roles.
This time around, Heid chose to create an audio drama based on Henty’s 1890 book With Lee In Virginia. Last July, Marshall Foster and Kirk Cameron were both enthusiastic about and endorsed the project. Cameron voices the character of Stonewall Jackson. He has stated that he liked the project because it makes “people look biblically at the subject of slavery, and to understand that there were good and godly men on both sides of this war [the American Civil War].”
In the book, the main character Vincent is a Confederate supporter who fights against the Union. Though the character initially finds slavery repugnant, Vincent learns from his father that not all slave owners are bad and that some slaves like being enslaved. “There are good plantations and bad plantations,” the father tells Vincent, “and there are many more good ones than bad ones.” Throughout the book, Henty as narrator (and through his characters) defends the institution of slavery. He lambasts “Mrs. Beecher Stowe” (abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), accusing her of “libel” against the South. Henty writes that, “Taken all in all, the negroes on a well-ordered estate, under kind masters, were probably a happier class of people.” This sentiment echoes other contemporary slavery apologists like Doug Wilson. At the end of the novel, Hentry has the freed slaves decide to return to their former owners because the black people decide freedom “was a curse rather than a blessing to them.”
This theme of black people returning to their former owners extends from Henty’s belief in white supremacy and black inferiority. In With Lee In Virginia, Henty writes that black people “are very like children.” Henty believed black people could not handle freedom, a belief he makes explicit in his other novels as well. In By Sheer Luck, he writes, “The intelligence of an average Negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years old… Left to their own devices they retrograde into a state little above their native savagery.”
In A Roving Commission, Henty declares that, “The majority of blacks are as savage, ignorant, and superstitious as their forefathers in Africa.” He also describes “the utter incapacity of the negro race to evolve, or even maintain, civilization, without the example and the curb of a white population among them.” Because of their alleged “incapacity to evolve,” Henty thought slavery was necessary for black people. In A Woman of the Commune, Henty refers to slavery as the “nature of the negro” because “servitude is his natural position.”
This is not Kirk Cameron’s first foray into the controversial subject of slavery. Though he has taken a firm stand against the modern-day practice of human trafficking, he also published in 2012 — and continues to host to this day on his website — an article from WallBuilder’s Stephen McDowell that claims, “We cannot say that slavery, in a broad and general sense, is sin.” McDowell says this is because “aspects of slavery are Biblical (for punishment and restitution for theft)” and because “unbelievers are by nature slaves” and thus can “be held as life-long slaves.”