Michael Hamar

A Christianist Plot for Domination?

Filed By Michael Hamar | August 16, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Politics
Tags: American hate groups, Christian beliefs, Christianists, GOP presidential candidates, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, theocracy, U. S. Constitution

I've followed a number of the Christianist organization web sites for well over a decade, including those the groups registered as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. One finds few groups more set on inflicting their beliefs on all of society than these nominally Christian organizations. In terms of intolerance towards others - be they gay, black, Hispanic, or non-Christians - they have few peers. Indeed, they are the Christian version of the Islamic extremists they so often disparage.

Unfortunately, too few in the general public and news media take these extremists seriously and all too often the media treats them with kid gloves as it affords them special deference because they wrap themselves in the cloak of Christianity. There is absolutely nothing loving or truly Christian about people who utterly ignore the Gospel messages except when convenient for propaganda purposes.

Michele Goldberg looks at the Christian dominionists who are the core support for Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry in a Daily Beast column. Here are some highlights:

Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn't optional.

Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America's most radical theocrats, it's long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult. Most writers, myself included, who explore it have been called paranoid.

Now, however, we have the most theocratic Republican field in American history, and suddenly, the concept of Dominionism is reaching mainstream audiences. Writing about Bachmann in The New Yorker this month, Ryan Lizza spent several paragraphs explaining how the premise fit into the Minnesota congresswoman's intellectual and theological development. And a recent Texas Observer cover story on Rick Perry examined his relationship with the New Apostolic Reformation, a Dominionist variant of Pentecostalism that coalesced about a decade ago.

In many ways, Dominionism is more a political phenomenon than a theological one. It cuts across Christian denominations, from stern, austere sects to the signs-and-wonders culture of modern megachurches. Think of it like political Islamism, which shapes the activism of a number of antagonistic fundamentalist movements, from Sunni Wahabis in the Arab world to Shiite fundamentalists in Iran.

Dominionism derives from a small fringe sect called Christian Reconstructionism, founded by a Calvinist theologian named R. J. Rushdoony in the 1960s. Christian Reconstructionism openly advocates replacing American law with the strictures of the Old Testament, replete with the death penalty for homosexuality, abortion, and even apostasy.

Rushdoony pioneered the Christian homeschooling movement, as well as the revisionist history, ubiquitous on the religious right, that paints the U.S. as a Christian nation founded on biblical principles. He consistently defended Southern slavery and contrasted it with the greater evils of socialism. . . . . "'Dominion theologians,' as they are called, lay great emphasis on Genesis 1:26-7, where God tells Adam to assume dominion over the animate and inanimate world," wrote the scholar Garry Wills in his book Under God: Religion and American Politics, describing the influence of the ideology on Pat Robertson. "When man fell, his control over creation was forfeited; but the saved, who are restored by baptism, can claim again the rights given Adam."

For believers in Dominionism, rule by non-Christians is a sort of sacrilege--which explains, in part, the theological fury that has accompanied the election of our last two Democratic presidents. "Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ--to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness," wrote George Grant, the former executive director of Coral Ridge Ministries, which has since changed its name to Truth in Action Ministries. "But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice ... It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time ... World conquest."

One could go on and on listing the Dominionist influences on Bachmann's thinking. . . . In elaborating Bachmann's Dominionist history, though, it's important to point out that she is not unique. Perry tends to be regarded as marginally more reasonable than Bachmann, but he is as closely associated with Dominionism as she is, though his links are to a different strain of the ideology.

[M]embers of the New Apostolic Reformation see Perry as their vehicle to claim the "mountain" of government. Some have told Perry that Texas is a "prophet state," destined, with his leadership, to bring America back to God. The movement was deeply involved in The Response, the massive prayer rally that Perry hosted in Houston earlier this month. "Eight members of The Response 'leadership team' are affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation movement," ... . .

We have not seen this sort of thing at the highest levels of the Republican Party before. Those of us who wrote about the Christian fundamentalist influence on the Bush administration were alarmed that one of his advisers, Marvin Olasky, was associated with Christian Reconstructionism. It seemed unthinkable, at the time, that an American president was taking advice from even a single person whose ideas were so inimical to democracy. Few of us imagined that someone who actually championed such ideas would have a shot at the White House. It turns out we weren't paranoid enough. If Bush eroded the separation of church and state, the GOP is now poised to nominate someone who will mount an all-out assault on it. We need to take their beliefs seriously, because they certainly do.

Goldberg is correct that these people need to be taken seriously. Their ultimate goal is nothing less than dismantling constitutional government in the USA as we know it and replacing it with a "Christian" version of the regime now in control in Tehran. These people are very, very dangerous.

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Any person desiring to hold the office of president must, at the time of their inauguration, take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Given their views, how can either Bachmann or Perry possibly live up to that requirement?

california panda | August 16, 2011 9:07 PM

They do it by changing the constitution through amendments, through judicial appointments, and by presidential decree. They do it by appointing those who believe as they do and preventing those who don't from having a voice. A theocracy is a dictatorship built on the backs of it's followers and dedicated to preserving it's own power at any cost. And that's what we will become if these people get into office.

...another reason to leave for Spain....

While science fiction writer Robert Heinlein has made a few mistakes in his "Future History" (we've been through the 1980's, and the closest thing we ever got to "rolling roads" are those moving walkways at airports), we haven't got to 2012 yet.

According to background in a story ("If This Goes On") set farther in the future, in one version of the Future History, a dominionist-type named Nehemiah Scudder wins the 2012 presidential election, and there is not another election in 2016.

Could Rick Perry be a *real* Nehemiah Scudder?

If so, and if her were to actually get elected, a chilling dystopia lies ahead.

Heinlein wrote this from the perspective of the 1940's - was there something in the American culture in that era that could have been the kernel for the future that brought Rushdoony in the 1960's and the growth of Christianist Dominionism?

I think there was pssobly something already visible back then. HEinlein never did write his projected novel about the rise of Scudder, "The Sound of His Wings" but I'll bet it would have started out with a prayer rally in Texas . . .

Isn't it marvelous what you can create when you combine fear, ignorance, hypocrisy and lies... VOILA! America, the Land of the Free, becomes Americhrist - Land of the Fool.

Maura - let me know when the boat is ready? Never been to Spain, but I hear the climate is wonderful for jaded old drag queens like me.

Unfortunately too many Americans don't want to hear about the threat of the "new Apostolic Reformation." The researchers at Talk2Action.com have been writing about it in all its eerie detail for years. Ditto Box Turtle Bulletin and some other websites. Even Keith Olbermann mentioned it on MSNBC, in connection with Sara Palin and her connections to the movement, back in 2007. Nobody in the major media was willing to open the can of works on her involvement with the NAR.

Frightens me, Patricia; I sutdied under Profesoras who were around before Franco took over, and my beloved Aunt Marie(blessings upon you, wherever you might be) was a Reuter's photographer(and 'Sapphist') in Berlin in the Weimar days.
All of this, the secular republic and gay rights, can end in an instant. One night my aunt was in the Bulowstrasse leaving the Dorian Gray, a week later she is being transferred to Paris to escape rioting SA men.....

Just a historical note; for quieter evenings with friends she preferred a place called Entre Nous..but you heard more Left politics at the Cafe Dorial Gray.

Oops...typo above. Can of worms, not can of works.