Dominionism: Not a problem restricted to the US.
Australia also has a growing problem with dominionists, and in fact, from dominionist groups that may sound very familiar to US readers.
Family First is a political party in Australia that, like dominionist groups (such as Focus on the Family) here in the States, practices "stealth dominionism" in claiming publically that it is merely a party focusing on "family concerns".
The truth is that Family First was founded by multiple heads of the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God and is increasingly regarded as a de facto political wing of the AoG in Australia.
(A bit of backgrounder--generally the AoG is the biggest non-Catholic/non-Anglican church in Australia, certainly the largest pentecostal one by far; essentially among Christian groups in Oz, you have the Anglicans, the Catholics, and the AoG and "independent charismatic" churches.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_First_Party has info (pro and con) on this particular dominionist group. The following section from the Wikipedia entry is particularly telling:
Andrew Evans was the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Australia for twenty years. In a speech to the South Australian Legislative Council, he indicated belief in a religious basis for laws: "Out of his love for mankind [God] has set boundaries and these boundaries have been accepted by the world as a foundation for the laws of every country."
In other words, not only is Family First essentially run by the AoG (and by AoG megachurches in Oz at that) but is a classically dominionist political party.
Evans himself has been the subject of quite a bit of controversy; a investigative page reveals that, among other things, he may have deliberately lied about his credentials and may be at the center of multiple complaints re the AoG in that country (including complaints of spiritually abusive tactics denomination-wide).
This link has a commentary from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, including statements by a member related to "deliverance ministry" as practiced within the group/denomination:
Family First has also attracted controversy from statements by a Victorian Senate candidate, Danny Nalliah who urged followers to "pull down Satan's strongholds" including mosques and bottle shops.
This link has information ergarding the links between Family First and AoG (and further firming up the fact that it is in fact de facto a political wing of the denomination):
Many key Family First personnel are linked with the church, but as their details are not available from the Assemblies of God website at the moment here are a few pertinent details.
(Crikey.com.au, from which I got the following info, is an excellent source of information re Family First and has done some wonderful investigative reports on the group.)
This page also has another report on the group, including a telling statement where the public face slips and the "private face" shows:
Fielding is not the only one to be gagged: all hopefuls were disendorsed as party candidates after the election to prevent them speaking on behalf of Family First. Harris admits the decision was partly due to the conduct of some representatives during the poll campaign.
When the Australian Green Party reported on this, they were actually attacked by youths associated with Family First:
"The Family First Representative, who was handing out leaflets at the same location, had announced earlier in the day that 'lesbians are witches and should be burned to death'" said Greens Candidate Howard Nielsen. A number of youths who listened at length to the rantings of the Family First representative took to their car and embarked on an abusive, egg throwing drive past the Greens campaigners.
(In my experience, at least in the group I walked away from...yes, they would have supported lesbians being burned to death, and a lot more people besides :P. In fact, they would involuntarily out gay youth and perform exorcisms on them :()
The AoG has a history of dominionist activity in the US that is quite well documented (known AoG associated dominionists in the US government include ex-Attorney General John Ashcroft, the main advisor on religious issues to George W Bush, former advisor Doug Wead, and Admiral Boykin; as far as dominionist orgs themselves, many local branches of dominionist groups like AFA are in effect run by persons in AoG churches such as Frank Simon and the Kentucky AFA) and the church itself is a heavy practitioner of "deliverance ministry"--a form of dominionism that states that everything outside the church group is infested with demons (and all ills are the result of demonic influence) and that people must "take dominion over Satan" and "tear down Satan's strongholds" in all areas including takeover of the government. Dominionism and the prevailing "demon haunted world", especially in AoG churches practicing "Third Wave" or "Brownsville/Pensacola" type theology, are very much two sides of the same helix); I have previously reported on the coercive and spiritually abusive tactics used by dominionist groups promoting "deliverance ministry" on Talk2Action. (Now you know how it all ties in together.)
(John Ashcroft, interestingly, was an example of how this is often done in practice (both in his political views and his "eccentricities" such as annointing areas with Wesson oil and covering up Lady Justice's boobies). As John Ashcroft is apparently a part of a multigenerational AoG family, this would fit; it's also now known that the Assemblies of God was a major funder of John Ashcroft's political campaign for senator in 2000 (the one where he was beaten by a dead man). (DefCon folks--would this be enough to get an entire denomination's tax exempt yanked? Dunno))
The AoG also has a known history of "stealth evangelism" and in fact considers it completely acceptable and desirable. (For the record, I am a walkaway from an AoG church, so I do know of what I speak.) The AoG has over forty groups of national and international interest used for purposes of targeted stealth evangelism--most of which do not reveal their affiliation with the AoG (and some of which try to claim are "interfaith" or "ecumenical", but upon digging at the AoG's website it is found they are actually AoG front groups); many researchers of spiritually abusive groups consider this a danger sign in and of itself.)
The AoG has also, almost since its inception, heavily targeted other countries--especially in South Korea and in Australia. Australia in particular has given press regarding scandals among AoG churches, many involving involuntary exorcisms and diversion of funds. In fact, many exit counselors in Australia are beginning to consider the AoG in and of itself a coercive group (which would fit the experiences of myself and other walkaways from that denomination). (this sitehas a good page on this in general) This is something that the US has exported to Oz, and the Ozzies are having to deal with it as a result.
Interestingly, there are indications of at least sympathies betwen the Australian dominionists and the American ones (aside from the AoG being heavily involved in both): this link discusses how John Howard, the present PM of Australia, is also heavily influenced by dominionists including Family First.
Multiple newspaper commentators have compared the style of Family First to American dominionist groups, perthis link:
The big issue was the idea that religion and politics shouldn't mix.
At least one documentary has commented on the "heavily American flavour" of Family First, per this article:
Dr Laurie's opinion of the party is that, "the `happy-clappy' brand of self-righteous vacuity of which `Family First' is a part, seems to me very American and alien to the mass of Australians." He doubts they will become a phenomenon in this country as evangelical outreach is usually so individually focused, "Sure they provide lots of singing and `fellowship', but there seems little in the way of social outreach, let alone ecumenical outreach to other Christian groups." Both Redman and Laurie point to the canny marketing and public relational skills of the Assemblies of God church, noting that Guy Sebastian's musical ability was harnessed in the church.
(The fact that dominionist groups DO make fifty-year plans is specifically why they should never be underestimated.)
There's also evidence they're (much like the dominionist groups that are heavily AoG and Southern Baptist influenced here in the US) using explicitly sectarian tests for things like refugee status. This link has more info:
One aspect of last month's announcement that was downplayed in the media was the involvement of right-wing Christian fundamentalists. Two days before unveiling the new visa category, the government revealed that it was reviewing the cases of about 30 Iraqi and Iranian detainees who had converted to Christianity while in detention. The timing of the two announcements suggests that these detainees will either be reclassified as refugees or granted one of the new bridging visas.
(A bit of backgrounder--there is a very large national controversy in Australia right now regarding the treatment of refugees--often from Indonesia or other countries in the Southeast Asian region. There is debate on whether many are leaving for humanitarian reasons or as "economic refugees"; also there is quite a bit of controversy regarding maltreatment of refugees, which are often housed in "tent cities" in the Outback with minimal provisions.)
(At any rate, this is why I say that Australia is likely not an option for people who may need to make refugee plans in the event the dominionists do take over the US completely.)
For that matter, Family First is even explicitly taking cues from dominionist groups in the US:
"I note that the list of factors contributing to South Australia 's low population rate did not state that thousands of abortions were carried out each year. In South Australia last year a total of 5 471 abortions were carried out.... It is my understanding that, if we applied the same figure given for the number of abortions carried out last year ... to the year 2050, the population of South Australia would rise by 246,376.
Not only this, but apparently the AoG in the US and the AoG in Australia engage in nearly identical patterns of explicit electioneering in the churches, per this link where an actual link to an example of Australian AoG electioneering is posted:
(Yes, this sort of not-quite-so-subtle electioneering is commonplace in AoG churches. As I previously noted, the AoG donated nearly $20,000 to John Ashcroft's Senatorial campaign; in the very AoG church I walked away from, it was always noted by the pastor and in the weekly church guides that "Deacon Frank Simon will be handing out voter guides, and you will find voter guides provided by him in your pews...be sure to vote for candidates who support Christians". ("Deacon Frank Simon" just happens to also be the head of the American Family Association of Kentucky and just happens to be distributing voters' guides published by them and by his other group, Freedom's Heritage Forum. An example of one of their voter's guides is available at here courtesy Project VoteSmart, and Freedom's Heritage Forum is known to publish their voter's guides online during election periods in KY. In fact, Simon's group has been the subject of investigations by the FEC to determine whether they are violating elections laws.)
Anyways, this is posted to show that the same people who are causing the problem in the US are now trying to cause similar problems for other countries, and that it is NOT a problem of the US alone. Countries IN GENERAL and people in general are going to need to take much more of a proactive stance to make sure people like this never get in office, and also to make sure regulations are passed and enforced to make sure the crossing of religious and political lines doesn't happen. We do not need a "Christian Taliban" in Oz, Canada, or the US.
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