Cory Burnell wants to turn South Carolina into a promised land for conservative Christians – and he says accomplishing that mission will be easier than he’d originally thought.Burnell, a 30-year-old financial adviser, founded the group Christian Exodus in 2003, with plans to recruit conservative Christians to move to South Carolina.
As NewsMax revealed in August 2005, Christian Exodus activists believe if enough Christians relocate, they can take control of sheriff’s offices, city councils, schools board – and eventually, the already conservative state.
With enough clout in South Carolina, the group believes it can pass godly legislation regarding such issues as abortion and homosexual relations, defying Supreme Court rulings on the separation of church and state.
“We’re going to force a constitutional crisis,” Burnell said at the time. “If necessary, we will secede from the union.”
Burnell still hasn’t move to South Carolina and remains in California, saying he is busy recruiting, but insists he is working on plans to relocate his family to South Carolina.
Burnell has picked six counties as the first targets for local action. So far, only about 20 people have heeded his call and moved to the state. But Burnell says 1,200 have agreed to move or given money to the group.
And he believes that in the counties where he once estimated it would take 500 emigrants to turn the tide, he now says it will take only 100.
By 2008, he hopes to see a strong presence of Christian Exodus-backed candidates in the six counties, and he anticipates an “overwhelmingly impact” on statewide elections in 2014, USA Today reports.
Laura Olson, a political science professor at Clemson University who studies religion’s influence on politics, believes the group could actually succeed:
“In many states I would say no chance, but in a state like South Carolina … where lots of people are on that sort of boat to begin with, it’s the sort of thing that’s not unfathomable.”
Charles Lewis, a former school principal in Washington, D.C., is one of those who have already relocated.
“We’re not an extremist group,” he told USA Today.
“What we are doing is reacting to the extreme marginalization of Christianity in America.”