The Christian Right, Dominionism, and Theocracy - Part Four
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 09:37:54 AM EST
Putting the Christian Right in its proper place in the political spectrum as a component of the broader U.S. Political Right is an important step in developing an effective response. This also allows us to evaluate the threat posed by domininionist and theocratic tendencies in the Christian Right. Some people see this better when presented in outline of chart form, so this entry in the series is constructed along those lines.
The Christian Right is a series of social movements with participants that have been mobilized into political participation through the Republican Party as part of a larger set of coalitions that include social conservatives, moral traditionalists, neoconservatives, militarists, etc. The Republican Party and the Christian Right, however, represent just a portion of the entire spectrum of the U.S. Political Right, so we provide a full chart of these sectors below.

The Christian Right plays multiple roles in the political system: as a social movement made up of people with shared grievances; a political movement with a specific set of electoral and legislation goals on the federal and state level; and a coalition partner in conservative politics.

Christian Right: Multiple Roles in Political System
    •   Social Movement
    •   Political Movement
    •   Coalition Partner

The Christian Right itself is made up of different sectors that exist in a coalition that may seem monolithic, but which actually has fracture points where wedge issues can be developed as part of an effective counter-strategy.

Christian Right: Multiple Internal Sectors
    •   Christian Conservatives
    •   Christian Nationalists
    •   Christian Theocrats

Within the Christian Right, it is primarily the Christian Nationalists and Christian Theocrats who pursue a type of dominionism that has theocratic aspects. The degree of dominionist authoritarianism varies by sector. Christian Reconstructionism is the major theopolitical ideology behind Hard Dominionism, but it is a subset of it. So there are nested subsets.

All Hard Dominionist Christian Theocrats are also Soft Dominionist Christian Nationalists, but not all Soft Dominionist Christian Nationalists are Hard Dominionist Christian Theocrats. All Christian Reconstructionists are Hard Dominionist Christian Theocrats and Christian Nationalists, but not all Hard Dominionist Christian Theocrats are Christian Reconstructionists. Whew!

Degree of dominionist authoritarianism:
    •   Soft Dominionist - Christian Nationalists
        •   Hard Dominionist - Christian Theocrats
            •   Christian Reconstructionist

Dominionists of all varieties can also have a complicated mix of attributes. These include the theology and style of religious practice; and the view of biblical End Times prophecy.

Theology and style of religious practice:
    •   Protestant
        •   Evangelicals
        •   Fundamentalists
        •   Charismatics
        •   Pentacostals
        •   Mainstream Protestant denominations (Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran)
    •   Catholic

View of biblical End Times prophecy:
    •   Postmillennialists
    •   Premillennialists
    •   Amillennialists

The Christian Right is just one of several sectors that comprise the Political Right in the United States. The chart below shows where it fits, dividing the Christian Right into hard and soft dominionists. Christian Conservatives are the bridge between the Secular Right and the Dominionists and Theocrats, but it is a weak bridge. Christian Conservatives are listed in the Chart below as part of the Religious Right.



Corporate Internationalists--Nations should control the flow of people across borders, but not the flow of goods, capital, and profit. Sometimes called the "Rockefeller Republicans." Globalists.

Business Nationalists--Multinational corporations erode national sovereignty; nations should enforce borders for people, but also for goods, capital, and profit through trade restrictions. Enlists grassroots allies from Patriot Movement. Anti-Globalists. Generally protectionist and isolationist.

Economic Libertarians--The state disrupts the perfect harmony of the free market system. Modern democracy is essentially congruent with capitalism.

National Security Militarists--Support US military supremacy and unilateral use of force to protect perceived US national security interests around the world. A major component of Cold War anti-communism.

Neoconservatives--The egalitarian social liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s undermined the national consensus. Intellectual oligarchies and political institutions preserve democracy from mob rule. The United States has the right to intervene in its perceived interests anywhere in the world.



Religious Conservatives Play by the rules of a pluralist democratic republic. Overwhelmingly Christian, with a handful of conservative Jews and Muslims and other people of faith. Moral traditionalists. Cultural and social conservatives.

Christian Nationalism (Soft Dominionists)--Biblically-defined immorality and sin breed chaos and anarchy. America's greatness as God's chosen land has been undermined by liberal secular humanists, feminists, and homosexuals. Purists want litmus tests for issues of abortion, tolerance of gays and lesbians, and prayer in schools. Overlaps somewhat with Christian theocracy.

Christian Theocracy (Hard Dominionists)--Christian men are ordained by God to run society. Eurocentric version of Christianity based on early Calvinism. Intrinsically Christian ethnocentric, treating non-Christians as second-class citizens. Implicitly antisemitic. Includes Christian Reconstructionists.



Patriot Movement (Regressive Populists)--Secret elites control the government and banks. The government plans repression to enforce elite rule or global collectivism. The armed militias are one submovement from this sector. Americanist. Often supports Business Nationalism due to its isolationist emphasis. Anti-Globalist, yet support unilateralist national security militarism. Repressive towards scapegoated targets below them on socio-economic ladder.

Paleoconservatives--Ultra-conservatives and reactionaries. Natural financial oligarchies preserve the republic against democratic mob rule. Usually nativist (White Nationalism), sometimes antisemitic or Christian nationalist. Elitist emphasis is similar to the intellectual conservative revolutionary wing of the European New Right. Often libertarian.

White Nationalism (White Racial Nationalists)--Alien cultures make democracy impossible. Cultural Supremacists argue different races can adopt the dominant (White) culture; Biological Racists argue the immutable integrity of culture, race, and nation. Segregationists want distinct enclaves, Separatists want distinct nations. Americanist. Tribalist emphasis is similar to the race-is-nation wing of the European New Right.

Extreme Right (Ultra Right)--Militant forms of revolutionary right ideology and separatist ethnocentric nationalism. Reject pluralist democracy for an organic oligarchy that unites the homogeneic nation. Conspiracist views of power that are overwhelmingly antisemitic. Home to overt neofascists, neonazis, Christian Identity, Creativity (Church of the Creator), National Alliance.

See the Chart at the PRA website
Chart is copyright 2005, Political Research Associates

This all may seem overwhelming at first, but in a nation where many people have elaborate systems for tracking sports scores or soap opera plots, it is a reasonable expectation that people who want to successfully challenge dominionists and theocrats can walk up the learning curve and appreciate the view from the top.

The Christian Right, Dominionism, and Theocracy: A Series
Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four - Part Five

Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates
= = =
The Public Eye: Website of Political Research Associates
Chip's Blog

Thanks Chip for a great series. It would be interesting also to chart out the specific ways each protestant denomination and non or inter-denominational group practices their faith politically and culturally. I am only somewhat familiar with Southern Baptists and here the picture is complex in its variety from neo-nazi sympathizers to green party participants.

by Carlos on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:30:35 AM EST
I probably am not the best person to sketch out those differences, but it is a great idea and I hope someone adopts it as a project.

Also, we need to look more in-depth at the backlash "reform/renewal" projects inside mainstrean Protestant denominations.

_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
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These distinctions should be helpful in devising strategies that can exploit faultlines in this coalition.

The faultline that I am focused on is the one between Religious conservatives and Christian Nationalists (soft dominionists).  

I'm also not sure that Christian Nationalism is as strong as it may appear.  A lot of soft dominionists might move to the "Religious conservative" position if they were aware of the full implications of their position.  Christian Nationalism has become a default position for scores of uninformed lay people who unquestioningly follow their pastor's lead on these issues.

Websites like this can help to devise strategies to inform and educate people.  Somehow, however, we need to create an effective grassroots organization that will address people face-to-face about these issues.

by Mainstream Baptist on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:46:42 AM EST

I really agree that the major fracture line is between Christian Conservatives and Christian Nationalists. Most Christian Conservatives can be engaged in serious conversations about the appropriate boundaries between religious beliefs and secular political participation. We may never agree, but in the course of the conversation I think we can move some Christian Nationalists back into the Christian Conservative sector, and move Christian Conservatives to challenge Christian Nationalists.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 02:44:30 PM EST

Thanks for a good bit of work--as I'm mostly familiar with dominionism in pente and charismatic groups (and the "dominion theology" practiced in the Assemblies of God et al is similar to, overlaps to some extent with, but isn't quite the same as Christian Reconstructionism proper) this would fit with my observations of what I've seen there (they would fit with the "Christian Nationalists" with possible crossover at some points to "Christian Reconstructionist").

I myself am going to be writing an essay later today on dominion theology within the pente and charismatic movements, and hopefully this will be of some assistance.

by dogemperor on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 12:07:38 PM EST

I really hope you write up your observations, I do not know much about the sector you have studied, and would very much like to know more.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 02:46:15 PM EST
Just posted the essay here, which is a history of dominionist thought and the evolution of what is known now as "dominion theology" or "restoration theology" in pentecostal circles, with a good bit on the history of the "Third Wave" movement (which, along with the whole charismatic movement, is also a major source of dominionist thought).

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I have felt for many years the majority of the Christian Right is Christian Nationist and that as such there is only two things a Christian Nationalist can do, i.e., become a Chrisitian Reconstructionist or wake up and renounce Christian Nationalism.

Hopefully the informative articles posted here will cause many of the Christian Nationalists to wake up and see the disasterous road on which they want America to travel.

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by johncity on Thu Dec 13, 2018 at 12:51:44 AM EST

Hi Jerry!

There are probably a lot more Christian Nationalists who could be moved over into the the Christian Conservative than we think.  Some have adopted the rhetoric without actually considering where the underlying ideas would take the country. That's one of our target groups.

_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
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