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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dominion or Domination?

Last week, I spoke about Senator Ted Cruz’s father who is a “Christian Dominionist.”  I also indicated that Ted Cruz is tainted by that particular theology and that he has been “preaching” it in connection with his very right-wing views of a large central government shut-down and destruction, as being integral to that particular end-time philosophy.  However, the fleeting references of last week did not satisfy in terms of understanding the depth, or potential strength, of this movement. 

Mentioned at the same time, was the fact that other members of the Tea Party Caucus also hold similar views.  And, guess what?  Up-popped this particular reference, originally posted to Hunter on Tue Oct 08, 2013 and also republished by Street Prophets and Daily Kos.  It is quoted from the latter source:
“Leave it to Michele Bachmann…to take this new theory to its only logical conclusion: the End Times are upon us.
‘…as of today the United States is willingly, knowingly, intentionally sending arms to terrorists," she said. "Now what this says to me… as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that… we are to understand where we are in God’s End Times history.”
"Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand," Bachmann added.

“Rep. Michele Bachmann is… one of the people currently celebrating the shutdown of the American government as being a fine thing…whether we need to bother with government at all or need to abandon it all and dedicate ourselves instead to writing WELCOME BACK JESUS in gigantic, burning oil-fueled letters written across the middle of the North American continent.”

To review this terminology for a moment, Wikipedia reminds us that the term "Dominion Theology" is derived from the King James Bible's rendering of Genesis 1:28, the passage in which God grants humanity "dominion" over the Earth.
‘And God blessed [Adam and Eve], and God said unto them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

“Christians typically interpret this passage as meaning that God gave humankind responsibility over the Earth, but the distinctive aspect of Dominion Theology is that it is interpreted as a mandate… in civil affairs, no less than in other human matters.  Thus, “Dominion Theology or Dominionism is the idea that Christians should work toward either a nation governed by Christians or one governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law.” 

Some elements within the mainstream Christian right have been influenced by Dominion Theology authors. Indeed, some writers have applied the term "Dominionism" more broadly to the mainstream Christian right, implicitly arguing that that movement is founded upon a theology that requires Christians to govern over non-Christians.

In the early 1990s sociologist Sara Diamond and journalist Frederick Clarkson defined Dominionism as a movement that is much broader in scope, extending to much of the Christian Right.  In his 1992 study of Dominion Theology and its influence on the Christian Right, Bruce Barron writes,

“In the context of American evangelical efforts to penetrate and transform public life, the distinguishing mark of a dominionist is a commitment to defining and carrying out an approach to building society that is self-consciously defined as exclusively Christian, and dependent specifically on the work of Christians, rather than based on a broader consensus.”

According to Diamond, the defining concept of Dominionism is "that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns". In 1989, Diamond declared that this concept "has become the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right" in the United States.  Journalist Chip Berlet added in 1998 that, although they represent different theological and political ideas, dominionists assert a Christian duty to take "control of a sinful secular society."

In 2005, Clarkson enumerated the following characteristics shared by all forms of dominionism:

1.  Dominionists celebrate Christian nationalism, in that they believe that the United States once was, and should once again be, a Christian nation. In this way, they deny the Enlightenment roots of American democracy.
2.  Dominionists promote religious supremacy, insofar as they generally do not respect the equality of other religions, or even other versions of Christianity.
3.  Dominionists endorse theocratic visions, insofar as they believe that the Ten Commandments, or "biblical law," should be the foundation of American law, and that the U.S. Constitution should be seen as a vehicle for implementing Biblical principles

There is some attempt to discredit the use of the term Dominionism as an accurate description of conservative thinking.  In fact, some right-leaning authors would say that it is used inaccurately and as a false criticism of the Right, especially when the concept of conspiracy is emphasized unduly. 

Fair enough.  But one can also say that the use of terms that define Dominionism in political speeches only serves to heighten the thought that this is part of the ethos of the radical Right!  Cruz and Bachmann have been guilty of using political speeches to put forth a religious view involving end-time theology and have even referred to the end-time as something on its way. 

So, in my estimation, it comes down to this:  Dominion theology does influence the thinking of some of our Tea Party adherents and other right-wing conservatives, enough so that it is used to define what must happen with government.  That is why I am predicting today that, just as the radical Tea Party Republicans have taken a major part in allowing Sequestration to happen and government shut-down to occur, they will attempt to influence the House to allow default on the debt to occur by blocking action on expanding the debt ceiling!

Dominionists like Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann are playing a far different game than the usual representatives to Congress.  They are focused on a biblical interpretation that most of us would not accept: that governments and power structures in this world must be transformed into Christian entities in preparation for the end of time and the Second Coming of Jesus the Christ.  Dominionism, says one Blog writer, Mike Nash, “simply means that Christians have the responsibility to take over every aspect of society and to govern solely in accordance with Biblical law. These Christians believe that until we have a theocracy, Jesus will be delayed in His return.  In short, Jesus will come only after Christians succeed in establishing Christian rule over the earth.”

Consequently, Dominionists cannot be dissuaded from their views by mere politics or mere politicians.  They view their mission as sacred, not mundane.  They are committed to  either a shut-down of secular governments world-wide, or to the take-over of national government by God’s “bankers” and “kings” -- white, fundamentalist, evangelical Christians!  After all, of what consequence is shutting down the national government or defaulting on the national debt when Jesus himself will be on His way down to officially deliver their ideological enemies His final eschatological judgment?

That kind of talk is simply gibberish to most commentators and media mavens.  Take Chris Matthews on MSNBC, for instance.  He freely admits he just doesn’t get it as far as these right-wing radicals are concerned.  He doesn’t understand how they can keep the government shut-down in the face of opposition and derision from their own Party members.  He doesn’t understand how they can even consider defaulting on the U.S. debt when it would throw the world markets and governments into something resembling chaos.  He doesn’t understand what motivates them.  And he is not alone. 

Are there others in the Tea Party who share this Dominionist philosophy?  In a book review of  “Christian Nation” by Fredric C. Rich, Richard Loebe, who calls himself a “foxhole atheist”, comments not only on the book, but on certain people he identifies within our government who are allied with, or part of, this Dominionist movement.  Ted Cruz, of course, is on the list; so is Michele Bachman.  But most surprising of all is that prominent Libertarian, Rand Paul! 

Although Rand Paul keeps a very low profile about this part of his philosophy, according to Loebe,
    “Unlike his father, who wanted to push away the authority of the government from your private lives, Rand wants to ensure that Biblical Law becomes the law of the land.”  Further, Loebe claims “He is allied with Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, and David Lane. He regularly confers with big donors from these far right religious organizations. He has even called for a “holy war” on the LGBT community.  Paul was a speaker this last July at the very secret religious summit in Iowa (along with Cruz) that was hosted by David Lane and the far-right wing Christian Fascists.” 

Loebe foresees these Dominionists breaking off from the Republican Party and attempting to create their own “pure” party.  “If they follow the doctrine and theology of (the founder of Dominionism) then they may start calling themselves Christian Libertarians – just a fancy made-up phrase that sounds politicky but really means they want to politically stamp out everything they see as immoral in the eyes of Christianity.”

I recognize that this is far-out stuff, but it is not to be taken lightly.  The Christian Nationalists or Dominionists have been at this movement for awhile, and they are gaining a foothold in government that is disturbing.  I will simply conclude today’s Blog by listing some disturbing quotes and thoughts from, and about, this movement.  Is the Tea Party not a threat to our government?  Are these radical Christian Dominionists just a fringe element?  Or, are they already a threat-in-the-making?  Are they already having an influence far beyond their numbers?  Are they actually getting closer to their take-over vision? 

You decide; but first, you might want to read Frederic Rich’s Christian Nation: A Novel, about which one reviewer says: “a story that reminds us that America’s Christian fundamentalists have been consistently clear about their vision for a ‘Christian Nation’ and dead serious about acquiring the political power to achieve it. This novel takes us down the terrifyingly credible path toward theocracy, in which people realize too late that the Christian right meant precisely what it said.”  Here’s some of what they are doing and saying; or what is said about them:

“If as a nation we want to restore our freedom, and we are on the verge of being enslaved under Obama’s socialist Muslim inclinations, we must take our fight to a new level.  Let us…march into Washington, D.C., this November 19th, and rid the nation of the criminal who lurks in our White House. Let us send a message to the other corrupt government officials of all political persuasions, that this is our nation, not theirs. Let’s “Occupy Washington” and restore freedom to our shores!”  Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch (who has called for a coup to overthrow our elected government, and replace it with a new dictatorship)

“In 2010, the Texas State Board of Education’s conservative members took another major step toward indoctrinating American’s children toward a more “Biblical” worldview... they “corrected” the history text books.  Texas produces most of the country’s school text books…these changes will be taught as fact to millions of children across America!
Examples of the changes:

The board has diminished Thomas Jefferson’s role in history because of his belief in the separation of church and state.
Students also are required to learn that America’s founding documents were influenced by various intellectual traditions, “especially biblical law,” and principles laid down by Moses. The social conservatives, creationists and religious fanatics who dominate the Texas State Board of Education want to redefine the Constitution as an explicitly Christian document and highlight the role of God in the establishment of the US.
The amendments also cast the United Nations in a critical light, with students asked to evaluate whether the UN and its committees undermine US sovereignty – a familiar tune for conservatives.
Students would be required to learn about the “unintended consequences” of Title IX, affirmative action, and the Great Society, and would need to study conservative icons like Phyllis Schlafly, the Heritage Foundation, and the Moral Majority.
Toyed with the idea of leaving out the election of the first African-American President
The history books will no longer include the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state.” (‘Stuff That Matters’)

“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.
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.  World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.”
(George Grant, Executive Director of D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries)

“When the Christian majority finally takes over this county, there will be no non-Christian churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more talk of rights for homosexuals. After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism will be seen as immoral and evil, and the state will not permit anybody the right to practice evil. (emphasis added)”  (Gary Potter of Catholics for Christian Political Action)

“We are a Christian nation. I think we should keep this clean, keep it simple, go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant. They’re quite clear that we should create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 commandments, it’s pretty simple.”  (Sarah Palin)

“We are engaged in a social, political, and cultural war. There’s a lot of talk in America about pluralism. But the bottom line is somebody’s values will prevail. And the winner gets the right to teach our children what to believe. (Gary Bauer, Family Research Council)

“The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship.“  (Beverly LaHaye, Concerned Women of America)

“I’m not trying to be alarmist…but please don’t think it’s out of the question that the “Christian Taliban” could one day be at the helm here. Did you know that fourteen years before the first shot was fired in World War ll, Hitler announced his plan to destroy the parliamentary system in Germany, to attack France and Poland, and to eliminate the Jews? Why did ordinary Germans voting in 1932 not believe him?  He went ahead and did exactly what he said he was going to do.”  (‘Stuff That Matters’ Mike Nash)

“Can you think of other examples throughout world history in which fundamentalist, right-wing, religious extremists have gained power and plunged their country into a dark ages-like society of ignorance, oppression and fear? I’m sure you can – I can think of probably eight examples right now, without even using Google. So why couldn’t this happen here? All it takes are four ingredients, all of which are present right now in America.
1. A large group of religiously inspired fundamentalist leaders who are committed to seeing their religious texts made to be the law of the land.
2. A large group of religiously inspired citizens willing to follow and support said powerful people.
3. A perceived enemy.
4. A persecution complex.” (‘Stuff That Matters’ Mike Nash)