Our Threatened Freedom

Is Charity Illegal? (03:28)

R.J. Rushdoony


R.J. Rushdoony: 00:01 Is charity illegal? This is R.J. Rushdoony with a report on our threatened freedom. Most of us saw on television news the giveaway program in Oakland, California where 500,000 pounds of oranges were given away in late 1981. These oranges were given by farmer Skip Pescasoletto of Exeter, California. All he asked was the cost of freight and packing. The West Oakland Food Co-op asked recipients to donate two cents per orange to defray expenses.

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:38 Because of this, Pescasoletto has become the target of a federal lawsuit. He may be fined a $150,000 and assessed an additional $16,000. Federal agents have already spent 500 hours going over his business records and the worst may be ahead of him. Perhaps, by today some political decision may lead to no prosecution, but this is far from sure.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:07 All this is based on a 1937 U.S. Department of Agriculture order creating a naval orange administrative committee. This committee determines the number of naval oranges that growers can ship to the market. The 1981 order limited California and Arizona growers to shipping 76 to 78% of the oranges grown to the market. The rest had to be exported, made into juice, or fed to cattle. In 1981 according to Pescasoletto, 26,872,000 boxes were diverted to non-human use, dumped in pastures for cows to walk on.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:50 There are two important issues in this case. First, does a man have the right to sell his produce where and however he wants? Does the federal government have the right to limit the amount of produce that goes to market? The federal government has been exercising such a power since the days of President Roosevelt. Second, does the federal government have the right to tell us when we can be charitable and when we cannot be? There were no complaints from the people in Oakland who received the oranges. We can raise still a third question. Is federal planning and control a superior force than freedom in the free market?

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:32 Pescasoletto’s critics seem to believe that the consequence of freedom is disaster. They maintained that the free market would destroy us. Pescasoletto charges in turn that such critics both farmers and non-farmers are either members of a major distributing corporation or federal officials. The issue is an important one.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:57 In the Pescasoletto case, freedom is on trial. All too many people both in and out of the federal government seem to believe that freedom is a potentially dangerous force and if permitted at all should be very strictly rationed. Whatever the decision in the Pescasoletto case, this issue will remain a key one in the last two decades of the 20th Century. This has been R.J. Rushdoony with a report on our threatened freedom.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder