Secessionists were going to teach Constitution class at Ohio high school

Eric Owens | Editor

A prosperous suburban enclave in southwestern Ohio is apparently some budding hotbed of Southern secessionism.

The latest incident occurred Thursday night when Sonny Thomas, the self-proclaimed president of SpringboroTeaParty.com, addressed a district school board meeting. In his speech, Thomas reportedly defended the League of the South, an openly secessionist group. The fierce foe of the New World Order also climaxed his remarks by defiantly revealing a Confederate flag.

Jason Lewis, a local parent who was also present at the raucous board meeting, described Thomas’s monologue as “odd, stream-of-conscious babbling.”

“He ended his speech by unfurling a Confederate flag and asking, ‘Are you offended?'” Lewis told The Daily Caller.

Thomas also went over his allotted time, Lewis noted.

Like Thomas, Lewis was on the list of prearranged speakers. He spoke, just after Thomas, concerning his dissatisfaction with the board’s handling of a looming teachers strike and a recently cancelled class on the Constitution (see below).

Unlike Thomas, Lewis was later asked to leave the meeting when he later spoke over Kelly Kohls, the board president, reports the Dayton Daily News. Lewis and Kohls sparred over the text used in a history class.

A few weeks ago, The Daily Caller reported on a kerfuffle in Springboro that appeared to be a garden-variety dustup over religion in school. A group of parents had protested because the school district was promoting a voluntary 12-week summer course for students and adults on the U.S. Constitution. Complaints included that the class was “tea party leaning” and overtly religious.

“I googled some of the names — some of the groups that are teaching the classes — and of course my assumptions were correct in finding out it was a religion-based class,” prying parent Jenny Nijak told NBC affiliate WLWT at the time. (RELATED: Parents angry because religion may get mentioned in optional summer Constitution class)

The course would have occurred at Springboro High School (in Room #108).

On July 3, the school district called off the course, according to WHIO-TV. It has since been relocated to a church in somewhat nearby Clearcreek Township, and will begin next week.

The religious nature and constitutional permissibility of the canceled courses notwithstanding, another interesting issue is also afoot. The creators and, apparently, the teachers of this public school-promoted course on the Constitution are bona fide, dyed-in-the-wool secessionists.

“I don’t think people really began to understand these classes,” Lewis told The Daily Caller. “People have been focused on teachers contract negotiations and a looming strike.”

The course was (and still is) being facilitated by Ricki Pepin, a local, self-styled political activist. A short article from WLWT suggests that Pepin is an instructor. The 90-minute classes at the high school were to include a video lecture portion and discussion portions.

The video lecture materials (and, apparently, other materials) came from the Institute on the Constitution. The course instructors in the video portion are David Barton and John Eidsmoe.

An outline of the course contains a link entitled IOTC Home Web Page next to the words “This is where the IOTC is all done.” That link clicks through to the homepage of The American View.

“There is a God, the God of the Bible,” the graphic atop The American View’s homepage declares. “Our rights come from Him. The purpose of civil government is to secure these God-given rights.”

So far, so good, obviously—perhaps missing an apple pie.

The American View and, in fact, the Institution of the Constitution, is largely a project of Michael Peroutka, a Maryland debt-collection attorney, a talented public speaker and the Constitution Party candidate for president in 2004.

Peroutka is also closely associated with the League of the South, an Alabama-based political group that, according to its FAQ, seeks to organize “the Southern people so that they might effectively pursue independence and self-government.”

“We are not revolutionaries; therefore, we do not seek the overthrow of the U.S. government,” the site hastens to add. “Rather, we seek, by peaceful and well-established legal and constitutional means, to separate ourselves from it.”

Peroutka has been a frequent speaker at League of the South conferences. According to the Independent Political Report, the attorney also joined the group’s Board of Directors in June.

In this video segment of Peroutka’s speech at the 2012 League of the South conference, Peroutka discusses his concerns that ordered liberty might not be a result of secession from the federal government.

“I do agree that when you secede, or however the destruction and the rubble of this regime takes place and how it plays out, you’re going to need to take a biblical worldview and apply it to civil law and government,” Peroutka said.

Then, either in real time or by way of some deftly imposed editing, he turns around and hawks what appears to be the exact course on the Constitution that was going to occur at Springboro High.

Peroutka also mentions “The Grey Book,” a treatise on offer at the League’s website. The subtitle is “Blueprint for Southern Independence.” The logo of the League of the South is featured prominently on the cover.

Inside, you’ll learn “why independence for the Southern States is the only realistic remedy for a descent into cultural barbarism, political tyranny, and economic bankruptcy.” “There is a plan and a vision for Southern independence” as well because (as page viii asserts) “the government of the U.S. is beyond reform, so that the only option available is removing ourselves.”

John Eidsmoe and David Barton, the instructors of the video portion of the course that was slated to run at Springboro High, have some colorful details in their pasts as well.

Eidsmoe is an attorney and an academic who has taught at Faulkner University’s law school and the (now-defunct) law school at Oral Roberts University (where he was a mentor to Michelle Bachmann).

In 2005, he was on the slate of speakers at the national convention of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a sort of blood-and-soil American group that opposes, among much else, “all efforts to mix the races of mankind.”

In his own defense, Eidsmoe has affirmed to The New Yorker that he loathes racists and racism.

Eidsmoe also attended a Secession Day event in Alabama in 2010. He was interviewed extensively during the festivities and discussed the rights of states to leave the political union.

“Our belief is that it was their constitutional right to secede, that this was a right that had been reserved by many of them and had never been delegated to the national government,” Eidsmoe said.

Barton is an evangelical Christian minister with a passion for demonstrating his view that the Constitution has strong ties to the Bible. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has called him “maybe the greatest living historian on the spiritual nature of America’s early days,” according to The New York Times.

While Barton does not appear to be a secessionist leader or even a fellow traveler, mega-publishing house Thomas Nelson did stop production of one of his books in 2012, at least temporarily. The publisher concluded that the best-selling book, “The Jefferson Lies,” contained factual inaccuracies.

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