What is Christian nationalism?
Michelle Goldberg printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 04:53:29 PM EST
Author Michelle Goldberg one of the early regular contributors to Talk to Action, posted an announcement and preview of her excellent book, Kingdom Coming here on on May 11, 2006. I am reposting it today as a reminder of how little has changed since then. David Barton is still an influential Christian Right and Republican leader, and Christian nationalism continues to inform the worldview of millions of conservative Christians. -- FC

I've just published a book called "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism," and since it appeared, I've been asked several times what Christian nationalism is, and how it differs from Christian fundamentalism. It's an important concept to understand, because the threat to a pluralistic society does not come from those who simply believe in a very conservative interpretation of Christianity. It comes from those who adhere to a political ideology that posits a Christian right to rule.
Christian nationalists believe in a revisionist history, which holds that the founders were devout Christians who never intended to create a secular republic; separation of church and state, according to this history, is a fraud perpetrated by God-hating subversives. One of the foremost Christian revisionist historians is David Barton, who, in addition to running an organization called Wallbuilders that disseminates Christian nationalist books, tracts and videos, is also the vice-chairman of the Texas Republican Party. The goal of Christian nationalist politics is the restoration of the imagined Christian nation. As George Grant, former executive director of D. James Kennedy's influential Coral Ridge Ministries, wrote in his book "The Changing of the Guard:"

"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.
    But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
    It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
    It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
    It is dominion we are after.
    World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish."

In the Christian nationalist vision of America, non-believers would be free to worship as they choose, as long as they know their place. When Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala became the first Hindu priest to offer an invocation before Congress, the Family Research Council issued a furious statement that reveals much about the America they'd like to create:

"While it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country's heritage...Our founders expected that Christianity -- and no other religion -- would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples' consciences and their right to worship. They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference."

The iconography of Christian nationalism conflates the cross and the flag. As I write in "Kingdom Coming," it "claims supernatural sanction for its campaign of national renewal and speaks rapturously about vanquishing the millions of Americans who would stand in its way." At one rally at the statehouse in Austin, Texas, a banner pictured a fierce eagle perched upon a bloody cross. For a liberal, such imagery smacks of fascist agitprop. But plenty of deeply committed Christians also object to it as a form of blasphemy. It's important, I think, to separate their faith from the authoritarian impulses of the Christian nationalist movement. Christianity is a religion. Christian nationalism is a political program, and there is nothing sacred about it.

(cross posted at Huffingtonpost.com)




Display:
"The US Christian Flag"

[ from the "US Christian Flag" designer's website ]

"YOU are the USA Regiment, Army of God.  THIS IS HIS LAND & YOU ARE HIS PEOPLE --raise your flag!  CHRISTIAN AMERICANS, BAND TOGETHER! "

"The Pledge of Allegiance  

I pledge allegiance, to the Christian Flag,

of the United States of America,

and to the Lord, who made us great and free.

I purpose, to band together, with all believers,

to protect the truth and liberty of God.

June 13, 2005  Please note:   there is clearly confusion among many.  This pledge, flag, and its mission is not to replace our government pledge OR Old Glory.  We are NOT trying to overthrow our government or force anyone to be a Christian.   We are, however, honoring our LORD and protecting our Christian heritage and liberties.  We are allowed to do that under our Constitution.   The State cannot dictate to our church that we may not. When that day ever comes, You and I will all be in a desperate condition.  May we please agree upon that much?"



by Bruce Wilson on Thu May 11, 2006 at 03:50:54 PM EST
I just wanted to point out that the symbols for the Evangelists have been an angel, lion, ox, and eagle... Mathew/Angel, Mark/Lion, Luke/Ox, John/Eagle... Whoever created this flag did not research the Pagan imagery he employed.

The imagery translates; John is quoting Mathew while standing on a crooked cross of Jesus with a mouth full of garbage... (Which goes against American ethos; Never speak with your mouth full because it is not polite.)

Just thought I would point this...

 

by inlikeflint on Fri May 12, 2006 at 01:21:31 AM EST
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Actually, I think the woman who created the flag might be mortified if someone informed her she was promoting pagan imagery.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 11:38:17 AM EST
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Excellent! Thank you Michelle!

Very important information here, I've ordered several copies to distribute to friends who've thought I was crazy and/or overreacting as I would try to explain this radical transformation taking place. In fact my phone began ringing during your Fresh Air broaddcast.... "turn it on, she's saying everything you've been telling us!"
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5398604

Listen to the broadcast, buy the book, tell your friends!!!

by Vesica on Thu May 11, 2006 at 10:04:42 PM EST

That two years ago, when I was on the steeper part of the learning curve of getting acquainted with Christian nationalism, I began making posts on one allegedly liberal ( it is actually ) web forum about the threat of impending theocracy. People called me crazy.  

Frederick Clarkson and I started this site ( see : "Welcome To Talk To Action / about this site " ) to aggregate perspectives such as Michelle's :

There's never been an ongoing forum such as this - on the internet or off of it - which kept up a sustained focus on the Christian right as a movement and featured a range of authors, researchers, and activists who specialize in covering ( and working against ) the movement. Such people never have had a dedicated forum.

So here it is.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 11:46:40 AM EST
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Vesica,

I suspect there are a lot more people like you who have been voices crying in the wilderness about the rise of Dominionism.

Almost everybody thinks, "It can't happen here!"  But it is happening.

Michelle has been doing an excellent job telling this story.  My copy of her book is in the mail.  I hope it receives wide circulation.

by Mainstream Baptist on Fri May 12, 2006 at 02:47:24 PM EST
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are doing an excellent job of generating meaningful dialog and I'm grateful for this site and for Joan's Theocracy Watch. Thank you!

I became aware of the seriousness of a mass movement some years ago after studying the works of Egyptian Sayid Qtub, the acknowledged philosopher and spiritual godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood, and was deeply disturbed by the startling similarity of thought promoted by the Christian Right. Looking deeper I came to the writing of folks like Fred and Chip.

Fred, I am especially appreciative of your sensitivity to avoid inflammatory remarks as those on the cusp that could be led to new understanding are instead shut down by tones of disrespect.

I posted the link to Michelle's post here on ScienceMusings.com/blog, a forum by author Chet Raymo where the intersection of science, religion and politics is a frequent topic, handled with intellectual elegance. I encourage everyone to take a look.

I would also like to draw everyone's attention to a recently released book, The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong. I'd like to write a book review for this site if I could ever set aside the time. A description from a recent interview  on her book tour:

"Her new book is about the Axial Age, from 900 to 200 B.C., a time of ferment when four different philosophies took shape in four distinct cultures -- Confucianism and Taoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, monotheism in the vicinity of Israel and philosophical rationalism in Greece. She describes the era as "one of the most seminal periods of intellectual, psychological, philosophical and religious change in recorded history," and when she talks about it, she makes it sound totally relevant to today's world." Because of the parallels with the Axial Age, Armstrong believes, it's highly possible that the world is at another religious turning point. "In every single case, the catalyst of major religious change was revulsion from warfare and aggression."

"These guys worked hard at it," she says, "to find a solution to the spiritual and political ills of humanity. The Axial Age people seem to be talking to us."
....
"Her idea is to start a new "theology of power," based on the Golden Rule. "To understand that other people and other nations, however remote and alien, are in real terms as important as Washington."

"You have got a clash of two opposing notions of what is sacred. And that's very worrying in a society where you have a divide where people can't really speak to one another"

Q: "You're seen by many as a bridge builder. But I wonder if you think the fundamentalists are open to your books?

A: Oh, surely not. No! But I think the onus lies on us to have a different attitude than they do -- that to go in there with guns blazing and say that these folks are crazy is not the way.

And the contempt that we have expressed for the fundamentalist camp -- and I'm not talking about terrorists -- I'm talking about the rank and file who consider themselves religious -- that gets across, and of course it riles and enrages.
What's the alternative?

I think we've got to decode the fundamentalist imagery so that we learn to read these theologies. We need to see the fear and anxiety that lie behind a theology such as the rapture.



by Vesica on Sun May 14, 2006 at 12:03:39 AM EST
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Speaking of the Golden Rule, here is a great collection of how this ethic of reciprocity is enshrined as a central precept by all the world's great religions:

http://abercrombielalioff.com/reciprosity.htm

by Vesica on Sun May 14, 2006 at 12:11:36 AM EST
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It's really hard to explain to most people about the threats to democratic process posed by Christian dominionism and theocracy, but the idea of "Christian Nationalism" as explained in Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming strikes a chord and does the job.

Congratulations on a great book that makes it clear that "Christianity is a religion. Christian nationalism is a political program, and there is nothing sacred about it." I plan to spread that quote around.

_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Thu May 11, 2006 at 11:23:33 PM EST

I just wrote a ten page paper for my American History paper (i know it's not so much, but i am only in grade 11) about the rise of the religious right in America, and i agree with this woman's ideas, if only i could have thought of a term as cohesive as christian nationalism. Anyways, i'm sure her book would have been a good source for me, and those of you interested in this book should check out Duane Oldfield's "the Right and the Righteous" and Kevin Phillips "American Theocracy"

Around the county, evangelical and likethinking conservative christians are taking over America directly through the Republican Party. This is not the majority of America, this is one small segment of the population who have been very effective in swinging the last two presidential elections for the Republicans. We've been seeing it since Pat Robertson ran for the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1988 and even though he lost, his dirty money was able to buy him whole states by infiltrating the state Republican Parties.

The founding fathers did not want there to be a dominant religion in America. They were secularites at best. Sure our country is founded in Christianity, but its idiotic to say that they had any intention for a dominant religion. The way people use them in their arguments is disgusting, and should no longer be tollerated.

by hirsh39 on Fri May 12, 2006 at 06:02:29 AM EST

I haven't read Duane Oldfield's book, but you might be interested to know that Kevin Phillips drew on the research of one of the founders of this website - Frederick Clarkson - in his book "American Theocracy".

by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 11:55:13 AM EST
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You state "Christian nationalists believe in a revisionist history, which holds that the founders were devout Christians who never intended to create a secular republic" in your second paragraph.

My understanding of the word "revisionist" is
"Advocacy of the revision of an accepted, usually long-standing view, theory, or doctrine, especially a revision of historical events and movements", which sounds exactly what you are advocating.  Our Founding Fathers were not Christians and anyone who believes differently needs to take off their blinders.  Our Founding Fathers were Deist pure and simple.  Whenever Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, et al refer to god in a speach they are not talking about the god of Abraham, but rather the creator of this universe.  Deist beleive in an "Absentee Landlord" creator, which means they believe in a creator who does not interfere in the daily lives of people.  

I'm sick and tired of the Ultra Right-Wing nuts claiming this is a Christian nation founded on Christian beliefs.  This is a nation founded on the principle of freedom from tyranny and oppression, in all it's forms.  People need to start reading their history books a little more, and not the ones provided in public schools, before they begin claiming "separation of church and state, according to this history, is a fraud perpetrated by God-hating subversives."

by snoogans on Fri May 12, 2006 at 08:49:05 AM EST


Hi there

My name is Lucas and I am from Montreal. I always stick up for America against many of your bashers poiniting out all your good stuff. Thats been increasingly hard with the whole rise of an insane Southern theocracy, the trampling of your democracy, etc., I was kind losing a little faith.

This site has made my year. Thank fuck you exist - I was getting very nervous.

I just wanted to get that in there.

Love Lucas

by LucasK on Fri May 12, 2006 at 10:48:44 AM EST

We are very glad to be considered part of the "good stuff" of America.  There is much that is worth fighting for, and we are in it for the long haul.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 01:40:20 PM EST
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It would be good for folks outside the US to know that the majority of Americans aren't minions marching to a theocratic drumbeat.

Most are just uninformed about the Christian nationalist movement. Hence, Talk To Action.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 01:47:15 PM EST
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And with people like him running the GOP in Texas, the rest of the country still wonders how folks down here can keep electing the likes of Tom DeLay.

What they fail to understand is that everything is relative -- and that compared to someone as extreme as Barton, DeLay looked like a moderate.

Sometimes I have to laugh just to keep from crying.

by moiv on Fri May 12, 2006 at 01:13:39 AM EST


With any small bit of research, a competent human being can quickly find that the Founding Fathers of our great Country were NOT in fact Christians.

One would quickly find that most of the Founding Fathers were in fact, Deists.

Don't be sheep people, learn the truth by doing a little research.

by Athevol on Fri May 12, 2006 at 06:46:32 AM EST


Actually it sounds like crypto-fascism to me.

by drg1138 on Fri May 12, 2006 at 08:21:05 AM EST


by montpellier on Fri May 12, 2006 at 11:01:08 AM EST
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Christian nationalism is different from fundamentalism?

Just how lost can these people be? How lost can they be to put down in black and white that they believe in revisionist history?

Not that which did happen, but that which they believe should have happened.

The original idea of church and state separation, was to keep the state out of the church's affairs.

My, oh my, how that one's been dumped on its ear?

Stuff like this is so totally depressing to me.

I've got fundies, and other deep believers in my own family. I really do try to get into their heads and minds and fathom just where they are, and who they are, and how they can think the way that they do. And all the while it's oh so obvious to me that if they'd been presented with something else, then that's what they'd be basing their lives on.

How come this is as plain as day to me? And, oh so totally lost on the millions of "true believers" out there.

Their mindset is so totally perplexing and alien to me.

And this from someone who spent ten years on two continents in catholic schools.

How is it that I never connected with any of it? Not from the first minute as a five-year old, that I set foot inside a catholic school door and was directed to turn to page 1 and start chanting from the catechism? I simply don't have an answer for it.

The closest I can get is that we're predisposed to whatever it is in life that we're predisposed to. If we come with a religious gene, then I guess we come with a religious gene.

And corrollary to this, beliefs hinge on which region of the planet we were born in.

How could it possibly be any other way?

The strife and the muddle will continue.

by biglot on Fri May 12, 2006 at 09:01:45 AM EST

It didn't 'stick' with me, either, in spite of multiple attempts by my family to make me a 'good' little girl. I think that my proudest moment was when I had to leave 6th grade catechism because I 'asked too many difficult questions' and was considered a 'disruptive influence'. My sin? Telling other little girls that they didn't have to be mommies when they grew up, and that I was going to do what I wanted.

Heh. I did.

by Lorie Johnson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 11:05:22 AM EST
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In my case, it only stuck until I was 12--and they started saying stuff about how Christian heavy metal bands were Satanic (ironically, I have the fact I was a fan of the Christian rock and metal artists Stryper and Petra to thank for being a walkaway now! :3) that made me start questioning.  

I then learned they were lying about other things too (like putting aborted babies in facial cream (false), like how Ozzy Osbourne's song "Suicide Solution" was about telling you to kill yourself (false, it's a song about alcoholism being a form of slow suicide, a message you'd think the teetotalers of my church would agree with!), like how the ERA would require all women to be lesbians and the Boy and Girl Scouts to merge (false, all it stated was you couldn't discriminate on the basis of sex; Boy and Girl Scouting are run by completely separate organisations at that).  I learned that they were BS'ing about how the peace sign was a Satanic symbol (it's derived from the semaphores for "nuclear disarmament", not as an upside-down cross with broken arms!).

The house of cards began to tumble after that; when the televangelist scandals started hitting, I have to admit I wasn't surprised.  (My mother, into the dominionist cult since it started, still trusted the televangelists were "men of God" and accused me of being demon possessed for merely suggesting they might be con men.)

by dogemperor on Fri May 12, 2006 at 11:47:55 AM EST
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It might be very good for aggregating and debunking these sorts of lies.

I'd never heard the foetus/face cream myth before. It would be good to have a compilation of the more outrageous of such Christian right urban myths - with debunkings.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 01:39:07 PM EST
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I'm actually surprised you never heard it--it was a commonly promoted urban legend in the Assemblies community (then again, this may be one of those things you never see unless you're a dominionist).

Anyways, the urban legend in full claims that products containing "placenta"--usually facial creams or "Placenta Plus" shampoo--contain rendered human fetuses (in fact, they usually contain cattle placenta) and that you were supposedly supporting abortion if you used those products.  (It's an interesting play on some of the reports from the Holocaust of people being rendered into soap or skins of Holocaust victims being made into lampshades.)

In a Google search, I've been able to find a few links to dominionist sources that have made the claim that aborted fetuses are rendered into cosmetics:

Reprint of article, presumably from American Life League, about the "rendered fetuses" urban legend
Newsletter from Life Legal Defense Fund promoting this urban legend (the descriptions used are in fact typical and have only varied by target in the past twenty or so years)
Link from dominionist anti-abortion blog recounting this urban legend (in an increasing trend, combining it with slams against China, in part due to its one-child policy--now abandoned)
Link from South African dominionist group recounting this urban legend (from a group connected with "Third Wave" pentecostalism; as I noted, this urban legend has been promoted in the Assemblies for literally decades)
link from what may be a dominionist Orthodox group promoting this urban legend
Free Republic thread documenting this urban legend
Dominionist  "Baptist" group recounting this urban legend (and also, in an increasing trend in the dominionist community, objecting to use of vaccines cultured in human diploid cells, claiming this is promoting abortion as well; dominionists are increasingly objecting to vaccination because of this, and are even pushing parents to use religious exemption laws in regards to vaccination to "opt out" of jabs--putting kids at risk of catching preventable diseases--and give parents pre-filled forms in regard to opting out (interestingly, one of the "opt-out" vaccines is for hep-B, a vaccine dominionists have opposed children receiving on claims it is a "gay disease" or "druggie disease"))

And that's probably just for starters.

by dogemperor on Fri May 12, 2006 at 07:55:56 PM EST
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Hard as it may be to believe in these days of strident far-right religio-political activism, Christian Fundamentalism has spent a lot more years running like hell away from political involvement in the world at large than not.

Historically, the prevailing attitude has been that there is something inherently sinful in political involvement on the larger scale, that it's too much "of the world" and that believers should focus instead on "the things of Heaven."

Those who have espoused a specifically religious-based society (fundamentalist or otherwise) in modern history have been far more likely to withdraw from "the world" and, in many cases, to establish their own "holy experiments" ranging from Calvinist Geneva and the Puritan New England colonies, the German-based separatist movements (Amish, Old Order Mennonites, Hutterites, and Moravians, all of which are still going strong) and various religious communes such as the Shakers and the Oneida Community (yeah, the silverware people), all the way to the Children of God and the People's Temple.

(Interesting, isn't it, how many of those "holy experiments" were born in, or came to maturity as immigrants to, what's now the "secular" Hew-Hess-of-Hay?)

The U-turn into activism has happened occasionally, but only in recent years has it become a dominant theme in Fundamentalist circles. (For the real history of Christian faith-based social/political activism, we have to look to the Quakers, the Social Gospel, et al.)

That being said, we need to keep in mind that "Fundamentalism" isn't the religious or the political monolith it often appears to be. Beyond the straight-and-narrow basics, Fundamentalists can be as all over the map theologically as the rest of us, and the same goes for their political orientation. Some groups (the Jehovah's Witnesses come to mind; someone correct me if I'm wrong and they've taken a similar turn) still eschew politics. One of my brothers belongs to a "nonpolitcal" Fundamentalist group. And I'm sure there are quite a few others; we tend to forget about them because they're not out there yelling.


by anomalous4 on Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 04:12:28 PM EST
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This is just to note that the Moravians, while establishing closed settlement communities in some locations soon after coming to the new world, were never separatist in the same sense that the Anabaptist groups that you name were and remain. The last closed communities were opened in the mid-nineteenth century, and today Moravians live, work, and worship in full integration with their surroundings. We are very active in ecumenical relationships with other mainline Protestant groups. Unlike many of the various Anabaptist denominations, we practice infant baptism and open communion. And while the Anabaptists date from the Radical Reformation in the years after Luther, we trace our history to the teachings of Jan Hus, and the formation of the Unitas Fratrum/Jednota Bratrska in 1457, a full 60 years prior to Luther's 95 Theses.

This is in no way to diminish the point that you were making. I simply wanted to note that our history and practices are somewhat different from the others with whom you grouped us. I'm a member of one of the old settlement congregations and, as a volunteer guide, spend a good bit of time explaining the differences to the tourists and visitors who come in and want to know what Moravians are.

by MLouise on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:31:56 PM EST
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by John Minehan on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 11:56:35 AM EST
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Here's the link to Michelle's Fresh Air show:

Ne w Book Examines Christian Nationalism

I'm just about finished reading the book. It's quite riveting.

by Lorie Johnson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 09:16:26 AM EST


I'm a pretty ardent Catholic, and I can say that this line of thinking (Christian Nationalism) is completely against Christ's teachings. It's so obvious, I have to have pity on these people because they are so misguided.

Christians should be IN the world, not OF the world, meaning we have to be here and participate, but we should not seek to run secular affairs. Christ even said, "Render unto Ceasar what is Caesar's" -- meaning "Do what you have to do to exist in this world, but do not be too concerned with running its affairs".

We are called to speak the truth and illuminate the world about the love of God and how Sin tears us apart, creates hate instead of love, misery instead of happiness, dispair instead of Hope.

As you may recall, Catholics have got excited about involvement in secular affairs on several occasions in history and EVERY SINGLE TIME it was a complete disaster. Humanity and the Church itself suffered for it.

Now you have protestants who have rejected their roots and gone astray and now they're doomed to repeat the same crimes.

All this boils down to the sin of PRIDE --- they think that they can do better and alter God's plan. Pride is the deadliest of all sins because, as you're seeing, it replaces God's will with the individual's will.

by cmyers on Fri May 12, 2006 at 09:16:58 AM EST

by the way, i wasnt trying to preach. i was just trying to give insight into how those 'other' Christians think about things like nationalism (both Christian and secular).

by cmyers on Fri May 12, 2006 at 11:21:21 AM EST
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There are currents of belief on the Christian right which hold that Catholicism is not actual Christianity, or even that it is "witchcraft". Some maintain the Catholic church is a tool of the devil.

Anti Catholic sentiments in America never went away, but lately they've been growing.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 01:51:07 PM EST
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Bruce, I expected to get flamed for my comment. My experience with the left, and left-leaning sites has been complete opposition of anything religious. I was immediately turned ON to this site because it approaches the subject of religion, and specifically Christianity from a left-leaning viewpoint, but without immediately dismissing religion as some stupid kooky cultism that the Right practices.

Thank you for not flaming me and for furthering intelligent debate by making a truthful (albeit pithy ;) ) comment about the state of affairs. I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically.

I was a rabid Right Winger protestant and recently (few years ago) converted to Catholicism and it has opened my eyes to how nationalism and the concept of 'freedom' (the American version of it) are blinding Christians in general.

Catholicism calls us to transcend nationalism and aspire to communion with all humanity (under Christ of course, but most people can identify with the first part, at least). The Church is actually very left leaning in social matters -- its very pro-worker rights and collective bargaining, it's very human rights concious (one of the very few organizations crying out about the genocide in the Sudan, Nigeria, and Chad), and very human dignity concious (poverty, war, refugees, etc). These are positions not common associated with the Religious Right.

I have found myself leaning a little more to the left, at least w/r/t to political, national, and foreign policy concerns (not morality, though I'm more compassionate to causes I was normally mean or downright hateful towards like homosexuality, abortion, etc). For example, American nationalism is grossly arrogant and self-destructive. We indulge ourselves so much in our own affairs and own concerns that we essentially ignore the plight of much of the world. We're not good stewards of God's creation (environment -- though I'm perhaps not as environmentalist as many of those on the left). We talk about Christianity and God all the time, and then go off an do terrible things in its and His name (and no, I'm not JUST referring to Iraq).

I think the evangelical movement in America means well, I really do, it's just that they have such a perverted and dangerous view of Christianity, that I'm not sure any amount of logic, reason, truth, or even quoting of Scripture will change their minds.

It took a major reformation in the late 1500's to turn the Catholic Church around (unfortunately it spawned a terrible schism and led many Christians astray in the process). I wonder if great strife isn't coming for Evangelical Christianity and another reformation and schism isn't coming again -- to the detriment of everyone and the Church.

by cmyers on Fri May 12, 2006 at 05:32:23 PM EST
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Talk To Action is doing something new : it is neither for nor against religion, and it's written into the site guidelines that members should not criticize religious faith per se. Occasionally, diatribes against religion are indeed removed from the site.

The one exception to that general rule concerns religious faiths that are "domionist" or "supremacist" - faiths which claim an inherent divine right to dominate entire governments and societies.

On the other hand, proselytization is also against the site guidelines....

It's a very fine line to walk.

In a sense, you could think of the Talk To Action approach to religion and politics as a "libertarian" approach : individual faith can and does inform individual politics. How that could possibly be otherwise ? But individuals and faiths - even majority faiths - do not have the right to use government and the public sphere ( or the "public square" ) to impose their faith on others and entire societies. There is a sphere that is appropriately secular, and secular does not mean "anti-religious" : it means "a-religious".

As far as reactiveness of the left towards religion goes, I've noticed that in the past, and I've actually noticed a sea change in the last few years and even the last few months :  what was once incomprehension, dismissal, and sometimes ridicule has shifted to alarm and fear. I think the fear has been building and long latent but is just now consciously surfacing.

In terms of the gradual awakening of the American left to the fact that religion is a force in politics, I think that process of psychological accomodation is very similar to Kubler Ross' 5 "5 Stages of Death and Dying" : Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance ( I hope I've gotten that correct ).  I think many on the American left are at least moving out of the denial stage.

In any case, welcome to Talk To Action !

by Bruce Wilson on Sat May 13, 2006 at 09:33:20 AM EST
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As a minor heads up to the folks paying for the bandwidth, apparently this article, and Talk2Action as a whole, made it on fark.com this morning.

Fark.com, as an aside, is quite possibly one of the most heavily visited sites on the Internet, and articles featured on Fark and on Slashdot tend to get very heavy visitation.  We will probably be doing a lot of educating people over the next few days.

Good job, folks.  All of you :3

by dogemperor on Fri May 12, 2006 at 01:17:11 PM EST

I think today's traffic will be around X20 of average. But, I think the site merits even more.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 01:43:16 PM EST
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I'm putting on my Christian cowboy boots and doing a jig. My spurs are jangling. And that's no horseshit!

by jhutson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 05:49:39 PM EST
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at last, our work is paying off. Each week some new insight into the attacks on our country and our churches emerges and attracts new ears and new voices. Michelle, this is marvelous, and I am leaving my office immediately to purchase your book. I just this week signed a contract with a New York publishing firm to write one on how this manifests itself in the inner workings of our local congregations. We hope to have it out by next spring. Having fought this battle alone for too many years, it is refreshing and energizing to continuously find new allies. And the more voices that emerge, then the more the message is heard, and the less we are all seen as lonely conspiracy theorists: that card just can no longer be played. As one of my local pastors said to me yesterday, people that used to think we were making this stuff up are putting the pieces together. He tells me he reads this site every day now, and many of his colleagues are joining him. Good stuff!
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Fri May 12, 2006 at 04:41:06 PM EST
That's great. I'm looking forward to it.

It is very good that this story is breaking into the open. As I've written before, the documentation of succesful conspiracies is the bread and butter of professional historians. Humans conspire for advantage - is that so strange or unthinkable ?  And, those involved in conspiracies often do not engage in them out of self interest. It is very easy to fall into the trap of vilifying conspiracy. But in the end all that matters is documentation - that is what distinguishes real conspiracy from hearsay or wild eyed speculation.

At a certain point, an accumulation of evidence - and the publicization of that evidence - can lead to a "tipping point".

The documentation of financial and other connections between the IRD and "renewal" groups, and documentation of how those groups operate has raised this issue - attacks on the mainline churches - to the level of fact.

So, now, we're at a tipping point. It's long overdue.


by Bruce Wilson on Sat May 13, 2006 at 09:47:31 AM EST
Parent



Thank you for bringing to attention this troubling movement. I never knew it in this manifestation of a written theology, though I have seen the effects they have had on young minds first hand.

I have seen the act of 'witnessing' in my high school and college (both in Georgia). Students (and parishioners) are encouraged by their pastors to stand openly in busy places and proclaim loudly (read: yell) their faith and our perceived sins. Often they focused on a selection of extreme biblical views applicable to their `audience.'

In high school many students did this during breakfast in our cafeteria before classes, often despite the obvious discomfort of other students. The administration's initial response was that of indifference. In college, many times, there was an individual who stood outside the cafeteria speaking far more `damnation' and even apocalyptic warnings, though fully endorsed by a gaggle of near-campus ministries.

I discussed his actions often with like-minded students, who had only to say that it was profound. Other students sought to have him silenced, but were met with near disgust by the staff. Some students made it a mission, then, to share the same venue for their own beliefs, only to be met with threats from students and warnings of expulsion from the administration.

I realize this may be a normal, healthy activity for young southern zealots and such indifference is to be expected of a small-town community. However, increasingly I find such methods and goals spreading to the arena of political activism and finding their ways into the decision-making of public officials. I realized, then, there was a program, rooted in both societies, to undermine political processes through organized religion.

The Christian community is highly influential, though I believe most Christians do not wish to push their beliefs on others. However, as a fundamental part of that faith, it is hard to ignore their organizations' increasingly ambitious and accelerating actions to this aim. I'm glad that there is a campaign to educate people about the threat of religious beliefs tacitly affecting the actions of our nation.

by jcampbell on Fri May 12, 2006 at 10:07:04 PM EST

Depending on how one might define that term. Actually, we are a loose association of determined individuals.

In other words, the problem has not been solved, and the "solution" is still wildly inadequate to address the problem.

We have to start somewhere though.

Welcome to Talk To Action.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat May 13, 2006 at 09:51:43 AM EST
Parent



thank god i live in canada.
well, not god, i don't believe in him/her so much anymore.

someone's description of people yelling bible verses in Georgia really struck me as awful. No offence to all of you Southrons, but I don't know if a Jew like me could survive it among the evangelicals down there. And someone preaching during breakfast at school cafeteria? I generally have a no prostelyzing before 9 AM rule in my life. I'm glad to live in a country and attend a high school where faith is more or less left off the table. Pray all you want, i just don't want to hear about it.

Someone above mentioned the ERA act which was shot down about 20 years ago and the fallacies which some church/es had spread about it. Funny because up until Reagan became president the GOP(God's own Party) was in favour of the ERA act. Maybe it was Reagan feeling like he had to throw Fallwell and the other moral majority folks a bone for helping him win an election. Now the ERA act is gone, just the start of the Republican party becoming the Chrisitan Party. Within a few years, the majority of Republicans were anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, and Reagan was touting his "family values". All bullshit. The religious right is the republican party, right down to their shit-eating-grin leader George W. and his Christian coalition friends.

I hope Jeb doesn't get elected, there would be way too many American women coming up here for abortions.

by hirsh39 on Fri May 12, 2006 at 10:35:14 PM EST

But, the Christian right is well entrenched in Canada and on the move.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat May 13, 2006 at 09:54:40 AM EST
Parent


I just finished reading Kingdom Coming yesterday, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone concerned about the very real threat the Christian right poses to the separation of church and state.

She mixes in personal conversations with a lot of well-researched data, making it an enjoyable and informative read.

I found the book particularly useful as someone who is just starting to learn more and more about the influence of the Christian right, because Goldberg brings to light so many key people, ideas, and organizations that are essential to be aware of.

I thorougly enjoyed this book, and look forward to seeing what else Goldberg comes out with in the future....


by bright on Wed Nov 01, 2006 at 11:08:30 PM EST


A constitution is a piece of paper and society is more than a piece of paper.

The founding fathers obviously intended America to be a slave-owning society: but it didn't turn out like that.

On the assumption that "origin is essence", the American origin is surely Christian, and its subsequent history of conquest was partly enacted in terms of "Christian vs. heathen". Thus, the tendency towards domination - in the name of Christ or colour - is an American, indeed one would say, European tendency.

As Americans, you cannot feel the full impact of your tendency towards domination as we, the dominated, can. Under Democrats and Republicans, we have been dominated in the name of democracy. Under Bill Clinton, we had democracy shoved down our collective throats and this continued under George Bush until we gagged on it - and America had to impose military rule to stop violence going out of control.

We'll probably never know how may women have been raped or how many young men murdered by the thugs of the political parties, but the ultimate blame rests with you. These monsters were created and sustained by US - Democratic as well as Republican - foreign policy.

From here, we don't see any difference between your religious or secular values.

http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_23393.shtml

by Iftekhar on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 01:05:51 PM EST


you can go to

http://www.scribd.com/doc/98080359/Theocracy-Rising-Dominionists- Christian-Nationalists-and-Reconstructionists-Their-Intentions-Po litical-Power-and-the-Threat-They-Pose

Also this ebooklet is a concise treatment on the subject of what the Founding Father's believed about religion and Christianity:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Commandments-Founding-Fathers-ebook/dp/ B00AFLG0LW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371170104&sr=8-1&k eywords=the+ten+commandments+of+our+founding+fathers

by Villabolo on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:39:54 PM EST


(from a reader in San Francisco, California) for this posting and all these wonderful comments!  I especially enjoy reading the comments from those of you who you live in less liberal areas than mine, with the result that I have a better understanding of what's happening with regard to religion in your areas.  And I thank those of you who give links and references to reading materials on the subjects that Talk2Action is concerned with. I would like to recommend a book I recently read about the Planting Fathers and the Founding Fathers and their relationship to Christianity and other religions: The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America by Frank Lambert, a professor of history at Purdue University.  You can read the reviews of it on Amazon.com to get a better idea of what the book is about and how well it has been received.  I think the author gives a very well-balanced account of this period in the history of our nation.

by gfross on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 04:16:08 PM EST

I'm enjoying Michelle's book_Kingdom Coming_!  Am now reading the chapter on evolution.  I've also been reading a book called_A lawyer presents the evidence for the afterlife_ by Victor Zematt and Wendy Zematt.  One of the chapters discusses the relationship of the research being done in quantum physics and the research that scientists have done during the last 150 years on the experiences of people with the afterlife.  If, as quantum scientists say, there is no linear time, how does that affect the concept of evolution?  Do wave/particles evolve?  And what about the "spiritual" experiences that so many people who have had NDEs or OOBEs describe?  I'm not giving any answers here; I'm just asking questions.

by gfross on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 05:04:13 PM EST
Sorry.  I misspelled the authors' names.  That should be Zammit.

by gfross on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 05:11:10 PM EST
Parent


The United States, with the exception of the Southwest, Florida and Louisiana, was settled and remains culturally dominated by Protestant Christians.  Even areas originally colonized by other groups, French Catholics in the Great Lakes or Orthodox Russians in Alaska, are now culturally Protestant Christian.

More importantly, much of the colonization, particularly in the British Colonies was driven by religious strife in the 17th Century: "dissenters" in Massachusetts Bay; even more dissenting dissenters in Rhode Island and Plymouth Plantation; Quakers in Pennsylvania; Catholics (early on and to some degree) in Maryland; Methodists and Baptists on the Frontier in the 18th Century; and even Latitudinarian Royalist Anglicans in Virginia after the English Civil War.

Since their motivation for colonization was religious, Protestant Christian concepts and memes shape our political discourse, for example, John Winthrop's imagery of a "City on a Hill."

However, these people often defined themselves by their lack of orthodoxy.  New religious views sprang up periodically, as with the Great Awakening of the 1740s and 1750s and the Second Great Awakening of the 1810s-1830s.  and the widespread acceptance of Deism in the years between the Revolution and the War of 1812.

Thus, no matter what your faith or lack thereof, part of how you relate to your country is through Protestant Christian viewpoints and many of the new faiths that bloomed during the Second Great Awakening, for example, The Church of J-s-s Chr-st of Latter Day Saints, make the Constitution a part of their revelation.  In short being American, makes us all culturally Protestant Christian to an extent.

To some degree, because part of that Protestant Christian experience was oppression, a part of that ethos is tolerance:  Dutch Colonial Governments in New York and New Jersey welcomed Jewish immigration because the Reformed Christian Dutch had known religious oppression by Spain;  the non-violent (but frequently despised) Quakers showed broad tolerance in Pennsylvania; the Unitarian Christian Jefferson sponsored Virginia's legislation on religious freedom which formed the model for the First Amendment.

However, since our view o ourselves as Americans borrows so much from the Protest Christian tradition, it is hard to know where one ends and the other begins; to separate Justice Brennan's "ceremonial deism" from Establishment.    

by John Minehan on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 11:48:33 AM EST


Isn't Dominionism a very strange philosophy when Jesus Christ said: "My kingdom is not of this world..." And Phil 3:20: "For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." His commission was only for us to go into all the world and teach others to be His disciples. The government under which Jesus lived was corrupt and oppressive; on every hand were crying abuses,--extortion, intolerance, and grinding cruelty. Yet Christ attempted no civil reforms. He attacked no national abuses, nor condemned the national enemies. He did not interfere with the authority or administration of those in power. He who was our example kept aloof from earthly governments. Not because He was indifferent to the woes of men, but because the remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. To be efficient, the cure must reach men individually, and must regenerate the heart. Not by the decisions of courts or councils or legislative assemblies, not by the patronage of politicians, is the kingdom of Christ established, but by the implanting of Christ's nature in humanity through the work of the Holy Spirit. "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12, 13. Here is the only power that can work the uplifting of mankind. In the matters of conscience the soul must be left untrammeled. No one is to control another's mind, to judge for another, or to prescribe his duty. God gives to every soul freedom to think, and to follow his own convictions. In Christ's kingdom there is no lordly oppression, no compulsion. The angels of heaven do not come to the earth to rule, and to exact homage, but as messengers of mercy, to cooperate with men in uplifting humanity.

by johnnyshiloh on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 01:30:27 PM EST

I love this website It's really fun for chatting online. My favorite part is chatting with people in comments. You guys should add a chat room so everyone can socialize with each other. However, some inappropriate chat may happen too which probably doesn't work. The last thing you need is live sex chat going on in your chat room lol. Anyways you guys have a really great site that I enjoy spending my time on it's super interesting and fun.

by Alex Chats Online on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 06:06:00 AM EST


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