The Myth of Christian America
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Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 02:45:26 PM EST
David Barton, vice chair of the Republican Party in Texas, enjoys strong support from the President and the Republican National Committee.  Before the last national election, he was a paid campaign consultant for the President's re-election campaign.  He has long been proclaiming that the United States is a "Christian Nation" (i.e. a theocracy) and that separation of church and state is a "myth."

Recently Barton spoke to the state legislators at the state capital in Oklahoma.  To help correct his errors, I filled a newsletter with source materials from the colonial era and distributed it to the same state legislators.

Several books have reviewed and debunked Barton's fallacious claims. My favorite is Dr. Mark Whitten's The Myth of Christian America.

It's a shame that no one at the RNC bothers to read anything but Religious Right propaganda. If they took the time to look, they could discover a lot of valuable information about Barton on the internet.

Americans United has several articles exposing Barton's errors on their weblog and in back issues of their Church & State Magazine. And, here's a link to their brochure about "Is America a Christian Nation?"

The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious LIberty has published a "Critique of David Barton's Views of Church and State and has posted an essay on "Separation is No Myth."  Other resources from various organizations are readily available to anyone interested in doing a little research.

Here's some good advice for the RNC.  Stop wasting money hiring political consultants on church/state issues who can't pass this basic online test. Unless, of course, one of the goals of the RNC is to rescind the First Amendment and create a Christian Theocracy. If that's the objective, then Barton's your man.

Barton has been the vice chair of the Texas Republican Party for a long time.  He's also been making the circuit in fundamentalist megachurches for a long time.  During the twelve years that I pastored in Houston, he spoke at least once a year in either First Baptist Church or in Second Baptist Church or in both of them.

Theocracy Watch has a good analysis of the Texas Republican Party platform.  The fingerprints of Barton and other Dominionists is all over that document.

by Mainstream Baptist on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 02:53:22 PM EST

I am new this this board and to much of the information you all provide, which is proably not a surprise to anyone.

I have one question about terminology. I have been calling the ultra conservative Christians "Dominationists" in large part because I think that works with the larger audience of voters. We can all understand the danger of someone who is trying to dominate us, and I want to be able to take in not only Christians who want to set up a theocracy, but also the theocracy minded from other religions.

However, I've noticed that many here like to call them "Dominionists." I think I know what this means, but can you clarify and explain this more?

Many thanks!

by Silver on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 06:14:13 PM EST

Bruce Prescott - being a trained theologian - might gainsay me here, but I think this may come down to semantics. Although I wonder about the translation from Aramaic ( possible distortions ? ) the god of the Old Testament gives mankind ( but not womenkind ? ) the right to exercise "Dominion" over the Earth.

Of course, they who exercise "dominion" dominate. Domination is, for many, inherent to the exercise of "dominion" .

There'e another term that's handy ( although wisdom around these parts holds that there is no perfect label which somehow has magic political force ) - "supremacy", as in "Christian supremacy".

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 06:27:05 PM EST

Chip Berlet has an excellent series of posts on "dominionism" and theocracy, which we have collected an placed in the left column of the site. The term dominionist is a legitimate term used to describe a wide swath of the ideology of the religious right.  

Not everyone on the site uses the term in exactly the same way, nor do we all use it on every ocasion.  There are different terms that fit different ocasions depending on what we are trying to say.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 09:02:59 PM EST

To quote the television cartoon figure Homer Simpson

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  1. In the broader sense, a dominionist is someone (usually of fundamentalist bent) who observes the "dominion mandate"--the theological belief that mankind was given dominion over all things by God (as described in Genesis, and as already mentioned on here).

  2. In a slightly narrower sense, I've also seen the term "dominionist" applied to people who believe in a subset of "dominion mandate" theory called "dominion theology" (which had its original genesis in pentecostal communities, particularly the Assemblies of God, but has spread since far beyond and has even taken root in Baptist churches).

"Dominion theology" encompasses not only the "dominion mandate" but an associated theology that preaches that God lost dominion over the earth upon mankind's fall, that Jesus was tortured in hell before his resurrection, and the "saved" (generally only dominionists) must retake dominion both physically and spiritually because everything else is held by Satan and by satanic spirits (up to and including governments, individuals, specific communities, etc.); in its most extreme variants (as practiced in the "Third Wave" pentecostal community) it's even explicitly taught that the "saved" are part of an overcomer army whose mission is to conquer the entire world and "swarm over it like locusts".  Word-faith (aka "name it and claim it", as promoted by just about any TV preacher) doctrines and "deliverance ministry" are very closely related, and can actually be seen as subsets of "dominion theology" in this regard.  (I've done an extremely informal writeup on the second definition of dominionism, which is actually the flavour I'm more familiar with--being a walkaway from a church which was a major practitioner of it and also active in the broader dominionist (as in political) movement.)

Some variants of dominion theology teach that a critical mass of governments must be converted to dominionism before Jesus returns (many of the groups espousing this are explicitly Christian Reconstructionist); others, of a more premillenial-dispensationalist bent, teach that the US and Israel are "chosen nations" and for those countries to maintain their "blessings" and status as "chosen people" they must be converted to hardline theocracies.  Many practitioners of dominion theology even expand this to the concept of taking over the government to drive out "territorial spirits" of abortion, homosexuality, etc. that are "oppressing" the US and "perverting" it.

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