Wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross

I’ve been reading about the Dominionists (in this case, Seven Mountains Dominionists and Christian Reconstruction) for more than ten years, and the more I learn, the scarier it gets. The most important thing you should learn is that they believe in lying and cheating their way into power because it’s to do “God’s will.” The second is that there is no room for non-believers in their vision of America:

With Tim Pawlenty out of the presidential race, it is now fairly clear that the GOP candidate will either be Mitt Romney or someone who makes George W. Bush look like Tom Paine. 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. In a contemptuous 2006 First Things review of several books, including Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy, and my own Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote, “the fear of theocracy has become a defining panic of the Bush era.”

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. “[W]hat makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government,” wrote Forrest Wilder. Its members “believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take ‘dominion’ over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the ‘Seven Mountains’ of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world.”

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.

Yep, and what they have in mind is the Christian fundamentalist version of sharia law. It’s important that we learn about this, but even more important that members of the media education themselves.

3 thoughts on “Wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross

  1. They don’t give a crap about how many non-believers there are. All they want is to eliminate any number of non-conformers. As was the slogan of the Prussian empire under Frederick the Great: “Think what you please, but obey!”

    A surprising number of people were happy to go along with that system.

  2. There is no God. Even if there were a God, he/she would be too bored with the stuff going on here. 6.6 billion people on a planet within a universe of billions upon billions more stars and planets.

    Gimme a break. If you need a God in your life, possibly you are doing something wrong?

  3. Christians, not Deists, basically controlled the United States from 1776 until 1933. During all that time, there was no “American Taliban” or “scriptural sharia”. James Madison, a Baptist, implemented the First Amendment – including freedom of worship – at the suggestion of John Leland, a Baptist minister. There is a monument to commemorate their meeting currently standing in the town of Orange, Virginia.

    On the other hand, secularists in mid-twentieth century Germany, Russia, China and Cambodia murdered millions upon millions to bring about their “vision”. Of all human religions, Secular Humanism probably has the most violent record to date. It remains to be seen if radical Islamicism will challenge that record – but it has a long way to go in order to beat it.

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