The Woman in A Mink Coat
Joan Bokaer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 08:49:19 AM EST
The year was 1986. I was on a speaking tour of Iowa, talking about the Religious Right's support for nuclear weapons.  As usual, after the talk several people approached me. But this time one woman stood out. She was wearing a mink coat. I remember her because it wasn't often in the nuclear disarmament movement that you see someone wearing a mink coat, especially indoors. As she spoke to me, she was visibly shaking, fighting to hold back tears. She said that she couldn't bear to go to Republican Party meetings anymore and handed me a memo from Pat Robertson. It read:

How to Participate in a Political Party

Rule the world for God.
Give the impression that you are there to work for the party, not push an ideology.
Hide your strength.
Don't flaunt your Christianity.
Christians need to take leadership positions. Party officers control political parties and so it is very important that mature Christians have a majority of leadership positions, God willing.

I was to see Pat Robertson in person two years later when he was running for President. We were both speaking in the same hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire. After my talk, I slipped into the room where he was speaking to his supporters. I just remember two things: the venom and the numbers. He talked about those "homosexuals" and "feminists" with such fury that the words came out of his mouth like venom. He was scary.

But his speech was mostly about numbers. He gave a date, then subtracted another date, then added something ... I had no idea where all this addition and subtraction was leading until he came to the sum and his eyes lit up. The final tally came to the number 666 -- the mark of the Beast. That's all I remember of that event - the venom and the numbers.

Soon after his numbers speech in Manchester, Robertson pulled off a coup. He actually beat Vice President George HW Bush in the Republican Iowa caucuses for President, 1988. He lost the primaries soundly, but his upset in Iowa should have been a wake-up call.  But it wasn't. At least not for me. Robertson was defeated.  

One year later the Moral Majority disbanded. The Moral Majority was created in 1979 by Republican strategists to swell the ranks of the Republican Party by recruiting members of fundamentalist, Pentecostal and charismatic churches. Political strategist Paul Weyrich, who coined the term "Moral Majority" stated the movement's goals:

We are talking about Christianizing America. We are talking about simply spreading the gospel in a political context.

These political operatives worked hand-in-hand with religious leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye who wanted to use the Republican Party to promote their religious beliefs. But in 1989 the Moral Majority disbanded.

Surely the movement had peaked, and I could focus on better things. Right?

Coming next - The Christian Coalition takes working control of the Republican Party


[ed: Joan Bokaer's four part series is:
The Woman in A Mink Coat,
While We Were Sleeping,
Angels on A Pinhead
Under Cover Of Night

That, right there in a nutshell, is the ultimate goal of the Dominionists. That little memo was their marching orders, and they are still following them today.

Our goal should be to yank the deliberately deceptive sheepskin off these people, and reveal them for the Dominionists that they are. With the Internet and all the other resources at out disposal today, there is no reason why any candidate for office cannot be thoroughly vetted and unveiled as another Dominionist foot soldier.

We can make it impossible for them to continue to use this stealth tactic to gain more power if we apply ourselves. It might be like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped, but in doing so, we can prevent more damage.

by Lorie Johnson on Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 09:38:56 AM EST

and the more I hear about it the scarier it seems.  However, it also seems to me that the mainstream culture is further and further from this.  It seems to me that so much of the dominionist movement is insidious because it does operate in "stealth" mode.  That said, it also seems as if they suffer setbacks when they finally come out and operate in the open.  It seems to me that mainstream America doesn't really take the threat seriously and are consequently pretty apathetic.  I wonder how long that would last once the dominionists actually did start passing social control legislation.  Their business and environmental legislation is certainly what is desired by the corporate branch of the party, so that's not likely to create the same general hue and cry.  

by montpellier on Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 09:51:30 AM EST
Dominionists have to be stealthy and deceptive until they gain power because if they came into the game already flying the Jolly Roger, they'd be immediately torpedoed. The bottom line, and one which we must address is this:

Most people do not mind religious faith- unless it is imposed upon them legally. That is what the Dominionists seek to do: impose a 'biblically based' legal system upon this country. They've already made inroads with state constitutions- making it illegal for same-sex couples to enjoy the advantages of civil marriage, and the law that Texas just passed is so restrictive (and punitive) that it actually anulls heterosexual civil marriages, too.

Dominionists are very punitive and legalistic in their form of rule. Providing for the needs of the poor, helping people get a leg up, caring for children, providing public education and other social programs are on the bottom of their list of governence- if they're there at all. Punishing 'evildoers', removing women from the public sphere, creating Christian citizens, and persecuting certain minorities are much higher on their lists. Reading their agenda is like reading a fundementalist's wet dream. It's very ugly and  punitive.

We're the frogs in that cauldron. It's time to hop out of it.

by Lorie Johnson on Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 10:20:17 AM EST

I wonder how these people could have no idea that they are being used by greedy business types who have so little care for what they believe in. The only thing I can think of is hate. They all hate the some of the same things so they work hand in hand.

by Grumpymann on Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 12:21:58 PM EST
And then it occurred to me that they weren't the poor victims. In fact, I suspect they are using each other and, for some at least , in a cynical way. The corporate/neocon wing would have had trouble taking over so completely without the support of the religious Right. On the other hand, I suspect that the dominionists would have had far less success in pushing their agenda without an administration anxious to keep them happy and inflame their prejudices in order to get their votes.

There also seems to be some overlap between the groups, at least in terms of leadership. The influential groups, and leaders such a Robertson, Dobson et al., are big business, money-making machines. Power seems to be the goal with the hate perhaps more instrumental.

Although I sense we all share some pessimism about containing this real threat to democracy, it is the symbiotic nature of the relationship that may be a source of hope. If the political Right implodes - as seems to be happening -  and moderates and progressives are able to achieve a balance of power, the faith-based wing will lose considerable clout. It also appears that the religious Right has been emboldened to over-reach (Schiavo, Supreme Court nominations, ID battles) and this could alienate moderates who might have been tempted to be sympathetic to, or at least tolerant of, their goals.

Perhaps a combination of political action to change the balance in congress and education of the public to reveal the dangers of the dominionists would be most effective.

by Psyche on Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 01:38:45 AM EST

"Perhaps a combination of political action to change the balance in congress and education of the public to reveal the dangers of the dominionists would be most effective."

And there are - as always - devils lurking in details.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 02:32:06 AM EST

Around the same time, I was getting calls from Republicans around the country with similar stories to tell. They were horrified and grief stricken much like your woman in the mink coat. Their GOP precinct groups were being systematically taken over and, Christian Right activists were installed as officers. And then they moved on the county and statewide GOP organizations.

Looking forward to more of your story!

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 01:55:25 PM EST

Joan writes:

Surely the movement had peaked, and I could focus on better things. Right?

Southern Baptists have been waiting for the fundamentalist takeover of the Convention to peak for more than 25 years.

Baptists kept waiting for the pendulum to swing back to the center.  Instead, the center of Southern Baptist life shifted to the right.  Here's a link to a chart about the pendulum in Baptist life.

The same thing is happening in this country.  The only difference is that moderate Baptists were willing to leave their denomination.  How many moderate and progressive Americans will be willing to leave their country?

I look forward to seeing your article about the Christian Coalition.

by Mainstream Baptist on Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 01:58:48 PM EST

If Pat Robertson (or rather, his supporters) did actually manage to win the white house one day, what would be done to non-Christian citizens of the United States?
Back in the 1990's, I did not really have any fear of a "TV preacher" and his flock.  Now, I am beginning to worry about what people such as the supporters of Robertson's CBN and of Jerry Falwell would do to those of us who do not subscribe to their path of faith.
If they had the power to, would the 'Dominionists'  detain all non-Christians as political prisoners?  Or worse, would they stoop to creating a "Final Solution" scenario like the Nazis once did 60-65 years ago?  

by Heathen1 on Tue May 16, 2006 at 09:06:36 PM EST

I have to say it was a very lucky thing that this man didn't become president, it would have been scary. Not exactly the kind of prson one would like to see rule a powerful place like the US.
Jared, Programmer currently working on the hoodia appetite project.
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