What is the Heritage Party?

K. Martin-Browne

The American Heritage Party (AHP) is a political party in the United States that seeks to incorporate Biblical, Christian principles into politics. Its motto reads “explicitly Christian politics,” and its mission is to “reclaim America’s political institutions and culture for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.” AHP is a splinter group of the Constitution Party.

The Biblical principles rest on the Heritage Party's notion that the Bible is the highest authority to which all other authority must defer.
The Biblical principles rest on the Heritage Party's notion that the Bible is the highest authority to which all other authority must defer.

The party began in 1992 as a group within the National Taxpayer’s Party, which later became the Constitution Party. In 1999, the American Heritage Party disaffiliated from the Constitution Party, citing differences regarding political strategy and faith. AHP was founded as a standalone national, Christian party in 2000. According to Daniel Eby, who was elected the party's national chairman in 2000, the Constitution Party and AHP seem similar in many respects, but they differ in that the Constitution Party is “constitution-centered,” while AHP is “Christ-centered.” In addition, AHP requires its constituent state parties to share its name and agree to certain common principles, whereas the Constitution Party has autonomous state affiliates who are not required to meet such conditions of uniformity.

The name “American Heritage Party” is meant to inform people of the “uniquely Christian” culture and history of Americans, according to Eby. Members of the party must be confessing, Bible-believing Christians, and leaders of the party and potential political candidates must meet Biblically based leadership and character qualifications, confirmed through a testing process. Women are considered for leadership positions only under exceptional circumstances. To fulfill its mission to restore a “comprehensive Biblical worldview among Christians,” one that can then be applied to activities in the public sphere, the party seeks to educate citizens, promote Biblical principles and elect leaders who act according to those principles.

The American Heritage Party lists three sets of principles at its core: first, Biblical principles; second, governmental principles; and third, political principles. The Biblical principles rest on the party's notion that the Bible is the highest authority to which all other authority must defer. The group's governmental principles root government in religion and the rule of law in scripture. The political principles specifically condemn abortion and same-sex marriage. Collectively, the principles emphasize the party's beliefs in God’s ultimate sovereignty, the importance of property and states’ rights, as well as individual, Christian self-government.

The AHP’s website discusses “Local Voter Clubs,” meetings that introduce people to the party and its ideas that build the foundation for county and state parties. As of June 2010, there was a Local Voter Club in Idaho and a state party in Washington, where the AHP was founded. However, the Washington state party has not supported a candidate for office since 2002

In order to educate Christians to be good citizens and leaders, the American Heritage Party has designed a “Studies in Christian Statesmanship” program, which includes more than 60 hours of lectures on audio and/or videotape. This program includes four fields of study — studies in principle, studies in party, studies in leadership and studies in public service. AHP members must pass tests based on this program of study for consideration as party leaders or nominees for public office.

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