From Reconstructionism to Dominionism, Part 2
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Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 12:14:36 AM EST

To a man, Reconstructionists believe that Biblical prophecies assure them that they will ultimately be victorious in the war they are waging to remake society.  This chief thing that divides Reconstructionists are the methods they employ to change the culture and society.  R. J. Rushdoony thought change would come as the gospel spread and lives were transformed.  This would necessarily be gradual and could conceivably take centuries to accomplish.  Gary North, on the other hand, thinks change can come rapidly by taking over the institutions of civil government in a manner similar to the way Fundamentalists took over of the Southern Baptist Convention.   Their differences over tactics led to conflict between Rushdoony and North.

[To hear a 4 minute podcast (mp3 file) of Bill Moyers discussing North's tactics and questioning Rushdoony about them, click here and wait for it to download.]

Despite their differences over the tactics and strategy, all Reconstructionists are committed to making the laws of Ancient Israel the law of the land in the U.S.  They believe the Mosaic law is God's blueprint for all societies.  Transported to the context of twenty-first century America, they see themselves as "Christian Libertarians."  Stripped to its barest essentials, here is their blueprint for America.  Their ultimate goal is to make the U.S. Constitution conform to a strict, literal interpretation of Biblical law.  To do that involves a series of legal and social reforms that will move society toward their goal.  Here is their blueprint:  1) Make the ten commandments the law of the land,  2) Strengthen patriarchically ordered families,  3) Close public schools - make parents totally responsible for the education of their children,  4) Reduce the role of government to the defense of property rights, 5) Require "tithes" to ecclesiastical agencies to provide welfare services,  6) Close prisons - reinstitute slavery as a form of punishment and require capital punishment for all of ancient Israel's capital offenses - including apostacy, blasphemy, incorrigibility in children, murder, rape, Sabbath breaking, sodomy, and witchcraft.

[To hear a 6.18 minute podcast (mp3 file) of Rushdoony explaining to Bill Moyers the rationale for applying the death penalty to adulterers, homosexuals and incorrigible children, click here and wait until it downloads.]

With the exception of the call to close prisons, significant steps toward the kind of reforms that Reconstructionists envision have already been made in our society.  What they have been able to accomplish has been done by their allying themselves with the Republican party and other conservative Christians and working through the political process.  By doing so, they have been able to exert extensive influence over the whole evangelical movement.  

I use the term Dominionism to describe the broader movement, heavily influenced by Reconstructionist ideas, that is working from within the political system to takeover the institutions of government and create a theocratic republic.  That is being accomplished by 1) declaring the United States to be a "Christian Nation," 2) electing conservative "Christian" candidates who are legislating biblical morality and law, and 3) electing and/or appointing "strict constructionist" judges who will rule in accord with biblical law.

[To hear a 6.12 minute podcast (mp3) of Bill Moyers trying to get Paul Pressler to talk to him about his involvement in the Council for National Policy (along with Falwell, Robertson, North, Rushdoony and others), click here and wait for it to download.]

[To hear a 4.41 minute podcast of Bill Moyers talking to Joseph Morecraft about the expected effects of a political alliance that he forged between Charismatics and Reconstructionists, click here and wait for it to download.]

The chief thing that distinguishes Reconstructionists from most of the conservative evangelicals in the Dominionist movement is that they are not ultimately pessimistic about the possibility of men ushering in the millennial reign of Christ.  Most conservative Christians are pre-millenialists.  They think Jesus has to return to usher in the kingdom of God on earth.  Reconstructionists, on the other hand, are post-millenialists.  They think Jesus expects them to usher in the kingdom of God before he returns and some of them expect to do it by force - by force of law and/or by force of arms.

Most of the people in the anti-abortion terrorist underground - the people who bomb abortion clinics and shoot abortion providers -- are Reconstructionists who grew impatient with the slow pace of reform through involvement in the political process.  They have already taken the law into their own hands.

Some Reconstructionists realize that, sooner or later, there is bound to be a backlash against the kind of society that they intend to create.  Many seem to be biding their time until public sentiment turns decisively against the kind of reforms they are seeking.  When that happens, I believe that some, if given the opportunity, will be willing to take up arms and wage another civil war.  Some of their literature indicates that they believe that such actions can be morally and theologically justified if they follow a lesser magistrate (like the Governor of a state) who claims to be following biblical law while refusing to submit to a rule of law that is imposed by a secular constitutional authority.  This kind of crisis could easily be precipitated by the Governor of state, like Alabama, refusing to execute a Court order to remove a ten commandments monument from state government property.

[Incidently, Aubrey Vaughn, the pastor whose church and congregants participated in the making of the Hotze GOP takeover video, was arrested at the courthouse in Alabama for trying to obstruct the removal of Roy Moore's ten commandments monument. To hear a 4.6 minute podcast of Vaughn, identifying himself as Ray Jones, offering a resolution against government schools in the Hotze video, click here and wait for it to download.]

NOTE:  The audio excerpts of Moyers with Rushdoony and Moorecraft are from Bill Moyer's 1989 documentary God and Politics:  On Earth as it is in Heaven.  The audio excerpt of Moyers with Pressler is from Bill Moyer's 1989 documentary God and Politics:  The Battle for the Bible.

Next Week, I'll write about SBC Takeover Leaders and the Council for National Policy

This is the fourth of six essays. Here are the links to the other essays in the series:

On Restoring America
Learning to be Patient Revolutionaries
From Reconstructionism to Dominonism, Part 1
From Reconstructionism to Dominionism, Part 2
SBC Takeover Leaders and the CNP
Reconstructionism, Southern Baptists & Education

This is so depressing to read. It's like how I felt regarding global warming ten years ago: That it wouldn't matter what the rest of the world did if the people of United States did nothing, & since the  people were. doing  nothing, it was too late to arrest global warming, as we would learn in about a decade. Now I feel that  decisively repressive aspects of the reconstructionist agenda won't awaken Catholics & mainstream protestants until it's too late to turn them back.

by HorseshoeCrab on Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 01:15:40 AM EST
We can't permit depression to make us inactive.

We just need to work smarter.

This website may be catalytic in helping people find ways to connect, share ideas, and find smarter ways to work on these issues.

by Mainstream Baptist on Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 10:06:33 AM EST

I certainly agree with you, but....

I'm a blue person living in a red state (KY) and I almost always feel over-whelmed when I am outside of my home. I have discovered many, many people who are elderly, but who are truly Christians, not Dominionist or Reconstructionists. However, I have not met anyone who is under 60 years old, who is not either a Dominionist or an irreligious person, who agrees without much thinking with the Dominionist and/or Reconstructionist positions.

I recall reading in the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader about 2 years ago that a group was being formed by "mainstream" ministers to counter the Dominionist movement, but I have not read nor heard of them since.

I try to address these people with patience, but I must say they are as trying as any people I have ever dealt with. I strongly feel that we will never develop any positive interactions with these people if we do not take a patient approach. However, I know from experience that they are not interested in anything positive that does not increase their position.

I have learned that the "people on the ground" are not educated in the Gospels. They are as cold-blooded and uncaring about those they consider to be sinners as I am about stepping on a cockroach. They do not seem to recognize anyone's right to privacy nor dignity and don't care if "sinners" die. When talking with them, I am reminded of the Nazi attitude toward Jews; that sinners are like vermin and should be eradicated like vermin.

When I experience these people, I realize that it will probably take civil war to stop them.

I have been operating against these people on the net for 5 year. Chip Berlet turned me on to these folks back during the weeks after the Murrah Bldg was destroyed. However, until today, I was never able to see the relationship between the Dominionists and the Reconstructionist. Thank you for explaining that to me. Better late than never.

by copperqueen on Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 11:52:53 AM EST

In regards to the situation here in KY in particular:

The two major players are the Southern Baptist Convention (since the mid-80's) and the AoG and pente churches here (since much earlier--you being from KY, you're familiar with Frank Simon, I expect; let's just say the church Simon is a deacon of (Evangel World Prayer Center in Louisville) has been at this for a good thirty or fourty years now).

In the case of the latter, I think that--especially with the groups into "third wave" theology--the groups heavily into dominionism have crossed the line to "coercive religious group" and productive dialogue is going to be very difficult at best.  (Two particular diary entries of mine detail how in many ways the core of the dominionist movement can be considered coercive (in the exact same sense as, say, Scientology is considered coercive) and I am about to post a third post regarding this.)

The Southern Baptists are, slowly but with rapidly increasing speed, also picking up a lot of the same "bad habits" of spiritual abuse that the pente/charismatic groups associated with dominionism and the "independent Baptist" groups associated with Christian Reconstructionism practice.  (And yes, I think one aspect of dominionism that people don't quite grasp if they aren't walkaways is that these groups are--at their core--spiritually abusive.)

Because of a lot of the specific tactics taught in coercive/spiritually abusive groups, any criticism of the group or its goals is likely to be demonised.  (This is why you have such a trouble of a time debating this with folks involved in it.)

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This will be familiar to any student of history, but this movement is revolutionary in nature and all revolutions based on narrow ideological grounds wind up eating their young. Since the core belief of Dominionist/Reconstructionists is the total wickedness of the world they cannot, by definition win. If at some point the world becomes less wicked they will have lost. These folks will always need an enemy. Remember the line from the old Chad Mitchell Trio song about the John Birch Society: "there's only me and thee, and I'm not so sure about thee".

The thing that really scares me about these folks is if they ever do find themselves in power they will not hesitate to use all weapons at their disposal to bring the "Kingdom of God".

I just wish I could be standing shoulder to shoulder with Gary North on the Mountaintop looking down upon the ruins of mankind when he realizes Jesus ain't coming and yes, the very elect have been decieved.

by GeneG on Sun Nov 27, 2005 at 12:30:38 PM EST

It has been a busy weekend and I've not had time to keep up with the comments.

Thanks for your contributions to this discussion.

It is hard to reason with people whose mind is made up.  Oklahoma is probably a redder state than Kentucky, but I have seen signs that more people are waking up to the radical nature of change that is being worked out through political processes.

We need to find some concrete, positive things to do that can help expose the radical nature of the ideology that underlies the thinking of the religious right.

One of the things that I have done is to organize an Interfaith Day of Prayer and Reflection to compete with the National Day of Prayer that Shirley Dobson sponsors every year on the first Thursday in May.  When "Christian Nation" evangelicals refuse to participate with us and try to pretend that we are persecuting them for their faith, it doesn't sell well.  We bring together people from all the minority faiths that we can find and put them side by side with atheists.  We speak about the common value of religious liberty and freedom of conscience guaranteed by the first amendment.  We close in silent prayer and/or reflection and sing the national anthem.

This is the most positive, constructive and effective thing that I have done to counter the theocrats in Oklahoma.  It is something that could be duplicated elsewhere.  

by Mainstream Baptist on Sun Nov 27, 2005 at 03:54:57 PM EST

Mainstream Baptist, this interfaith day is an excellent idea and I was very impressed when I saw the publicity for it last year. I do hope the idea spreads to other states.

by Carlos on Sun Nov 27, 2005 at 07:13:43 PM EST

Mainstream Baptist, I sincerely hope that your Interfaith Day of Prayer goes well and has a great turnout. I heard about the blatant and overt discrimination that has been part and parcel of the National Day of Prayer, which should be properly re-titled National Day of Prayer, But Not If We Don't Like You (especially if you're Pagan).

Those folks make the fictional Landover Baptist look inclusive.

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