House Bill Would Eliminate Most Regulatory Functions Of Federal Government
Joan Bokaer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jul 12, 2006 at 11:13:09 AM EST
As you read this, the House Republican Study Committee is working on a piece of legislation that will thrill the dominionists. Move over feds and make room for the churches to govern!

Part II of series on dominionism and the role of the federal government

GOP congressional leaders may bring to a vote within weeks a proposal that could literally wipe out any federal program that protects public health or the environment--or for that matter civil rights, poverty programs, auto safety, education, affordable housing, Head Start, workplace safety or any other activity targeted by anti-regulatory forces. Here's the full article.

How did we end up in such a house-cleaning frenzy?  No surprise. The Texas GOP Platform has been calling for a serious spring cleaning for years. Such an ax-job lies at the foundation of dominionism. The role of the federal government may not be the sexiest topic, but we'd better pay attention. The federal government is reduced to a few basic functions, and the churches take over the rest.

Let's begin by understanding more about Dominion Theology, a term I'm using interchangeably here with the Christian Reconstruction movement.  One of my favorite books on the subject is Dominion Theology Blessing or Curse?  by Thomas Ice (published by Multnomah, 1988). Ice spent twelve years wholeheartedly supporting Christian Reconstructionism until he left the movement over theological disagreements and founded the Pre-Trib Research Center with Tim LaHaye. (LaHaye is co-author of the infamous Left Behind series. For more on Tim LaHaye, read Chip Berlet's The World According to Tim LaHaye at Talk To Action.) Ice remains to this day the Executive Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center.

But back in the seventies and eighties, Ice was an enthusiastic follower of Christian Reconstructionism and, upon leaving the movement, wrote Dominion Theology Blessing or Curse?. He devotes one chapter to the following question: What Would A Reconstructed America Be Like?  Christian Reconstructionists, Ice claims, limit the role of the federal government to only four "legitimate functions." They are:

restraining civil evil,
punishing evil,
protecting the law-abiding,
and defending the nation.

Restraining, punishing, protecting and defending. That's it! Each one of the four "legitimate functions" deserves a lengthy discussion, but instead, we are going to look at what's missing from this list. The Texas 2004 Republican Party Platform spelled it out. The platform called for abolishing:

the Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms, the position of Surgeon General, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce and Labor. We also call for the de-funding or abolition of the National Endowment for the Arts, and Public Broadcasting System. p 19

Now for the new hot-off-the-press Texas 2006 GOP Platform The language changes and the strategy becomes sharper. They don't line-up all of those agencies for the chopping block. They'll just cut them down in one fell swoop. The new platform simply reads under "Downsizing the federal government":

We further support the abolition of federal agencies not involved in activities not delegated to the federal government under the original intent of the Constitution. p 23

What does "the original intent of the Constitution" mean? It begins to come into focus further down on page 23 under "Sunset Laws:"

We support a mandatory sunset law for the State of Texas that would automatically terminate all agencies or programs if they are not re-enacted by the legislature every ten years. We also support the establishment of a sunset policy for federal agencies patterned after the Texas Sunset Law.

So every federal agency and program would be terminated unless re-enacted by the legislature every ten years. Whoa! In a country so polarized, what are the chances that Congress will agree to each federal agency and program every ten years? Basically none.

Back to the legislation currently under consideration::

GOP congressional leaders may bring to a vote within weeks a proposal that could literally wipe out any federal program that protects public health or the environment--or for that matter civil rights, poverty programs, auto safety, education, affordable housing, Head Start, workplace safety or any other activity targeted by anti-regulatory forces.
With strong support from the Bush White House and the Republican Study Committee, the proposal would create a "sunset commission"--an unelected body with the power to recommend whether a program lives or dies, and then move its recommendations through Congress on a fast-track basis with limited debate and no amendments.

Lord help us.
(More to come on dominionism and the federal government. Stay tuned.)
Part I of this series looks at the Constitution in Exile movement made up of legal scholars, lawyers and judges (including some on the Supreme Court) who would not only oppose the regulatory functions of the federal government, but also of state governments as well. While, to be sure, not all adherents of the Constitution in Exile movement are dominionists, they are creating the legal infrastructure that will enable dominionists to move us toward a theocracy.

That's what scares me. In the last few years we've heard plenty about evildoers and our leaders have gotten us and the next couple generations bogged down in a quagmire chasing after evildoers. Now they want to root out evil here at home? That's why my wife and I wrote "The Department of Homeland Decency: Decency Rules and Regulations Manual." ( We needed a laugh after several years of seeing this develop and thought a satire might have some impact. But the fact is, if they get to define what is evil -- as they have in Iraq -- we are in real trouble.

by bfranky on Wed Jul 12, 2006 at 05:58:52 PM EST
I checked out your website, read some excerpts. Hilarious! And I do believe the topic of this thread would go very nicely with your piece, "The first annual "Send A Heretic To Prison!" contest" would it not? Thanks for re-sensitizing our senses of humor!

by Tin Soul on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 12:09:59 AM EST

Forgive me for firing off this post first without doing more research. But I would throw this out to you all, many of whom are much more educated and probably smarter than I, for you to consider.
I think this neo-theocracy is not really, at it's foundation, a theocracy at all. Most earnest Christians and Jewish folk, when presented with the possibility of living under a theocratic form of government like what they had before King Saul, would probably say, "OK, sounds good!" But I think this neo-theocracy is fake, through and through, and colored over with a big theocracy-colored crayon, if you will. Scratch off the colored crayon wax and you'll easily see the corruption of greed.
Like everything else that is meant to deceive in these times of intense deception we live in, this new theocracy is counterfeit.
I will take the time later to write a compare/contrast article along these lines.

by Tin Soul on Wed Jul 12, 2006 at 03:51:18 PM EST
I think you need to read up on the subject of Christian Reconstructionism and dominionism, Tin Soul. If this were soley about greed, I don't think any of us would have spent the past few decades working on this stuff. Give us a little credit.

Try reading Chip Berlet's series on dominionism -- you can find the link in the left collumn of this site. Or if you get a little more ambitious, you can read Michelle Goldberg's book Kingdom Coming, or mine, Eternal Hostility. Ads in the left collumn of this site.  

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Jul 12, 2006 at 05:22:53 PM EST

I really like this site and I respect you all for your efforts, whether they be the writing of books, ministering to people, or even those who just write blog entries. I choose to respect you, because I know how much work you have put into studying this topic. I give you a lot of credit.
My first response to your post was to 'get my back up' -- more of an emotional reaction, and now I see that was an over-reaction.
Of course, there is much more to dominionism, as you say. I have seen dominionism from the inside, as I was brought up in a very strict Christian (Church of Christ) family. I have also seen dominionism from the inside of a private school (Baptist), and my outlook on our faith has been widened and tempered by my years in Bible college (PCC). In every case, from my immediate family to friends and associates in school and at church, I have heard about how the United States was founded by Christians, and on Christian principles, and that we need to restore this country back to being a distinctly Christian nation. The way some people talk about this you'd think the cross should be an integral part of the Stars and Stripes! Anyways, these people are good-hearted and well-meaning, albeit misinformed about the birth of this country, and in my humble opinion they are misguided in where they want to take this nation and for what purposes. These are the good people who, when GWB stated that God told him to attack Iraq, wanted to believe that we finally have a Christian in the White House that will do the will of God. These well meaning people so want to believe, that I think they are being used as a tool by people who have no real common ground with the Christian faith, who just want to rake in the biggest profits they can. These greedy manipulators care not a whit about democracy, and will use good well-meaning and kind-hearted people as long as those good people stay uninformed and uneducated.
So, to sum up, when someone is espousing a theocratic form of government, by whatever equivalent name you wish to use, the question must be asked of what intent they have. Because they could be well-meaning people like my sister (who keeps emailing me dominionist propaganda), or they could be greedy, power-hungry politicians. But whatever the case, it will never be a theocracy like the Jews had before King Saul.
Have you read Charles Colson's 'Kingdoms in Conflict'? It's a good book. Back in the 80's he made a case against dominionism. I have no idea why he's not vocally coming out against this current dominionist movement. Maybe he changed his mind, who knows. But I just started Jim Wallis' 'God's Politics'. Thanks for those other book references, when I get time :-) I'll look at them.
In the mean time, keep up the efforts. We are all very fortunate to have the few websites like this that we have, to be able to come together and try to find common ground, and strive for peace.

by Tin Soul on Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 11:53:38 PM EST

I understand what you're saying Tin Soul, but it's a dangerous concept to rest upon. To outside observers, a casual review might indicate that this theocratic movement is being promoted cynically and for economic gain. While there are many political leaders that do just that, the real threat is from the true adherents that give the movement legs.

by Vesica on Wed Jul 12, 2006 at 11:31:18 PM EST

I'm new here but I do see how this reduces government to a few very basic functions. What I don't see is how this gives dominionist churches any legal power.

by spacecadet on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 03:08:22 PM EST
Good point and I'll be saying more about that in future posts.

by Joan Bokaer on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 11:10:02 PM EST

How do dominionist-oriented churches get legal power?

Three words: Faith-based funding.

The office of faith based and community initiatives has its tentacles in every major department of the government. Labor. Education. Judicial. Homeland Security.

Check it out yourself if you don't believe me.

by Lorie Johnson on Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 10:02:38 AM EST

The subject line says it all... if the government rolls over social services to the churches, they will abuse it.

I can see it now- having to join the church and pledge more than 10% for getting financial aid, decisions as to who can get help based upon status (good Christian vs less-active-in-Church-Christian), people with chronic health problems being denied help "because if you had faith, you'd be healed"... you name it.

I can just about guarantee that non-Christians (and many others) will have their human and civil rights violated if the government shifts everything to the churches.  The liberal churches may not be so bad, but they are the ones who don't want it in the first place!!!

There is also this- the reason this is being done is so that taxes can be lowered.  While I agree that the lower and middle class could use a LOT of help in this area, I can just about guarantee that the only ones that will see a reduction in taxes will be the elites- even as bush and company have done already.

The laws that force them to treat others as human beings will also be removed (no OSHA, Minimum wage, Fair Labor Standards, you name it!!!)


by ArchaeoBob on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 10:16:41 AM EST

I oppose the "faith based" funding initiatives, but those are a separate issue from sunset laws.  A govt reduced to "a few basic functions" isn't a theocracy, and a theocracy would have to have much more than "a few basic functions".  Simply shrinking the govt isn't 'theocracy' simply because it might lead some people to turn to a conservative church for some sort of aid - again, this is separate from the "faith based" funding issue.

So every federal agency and program would be terminated unless re-enacted by the legislature every ten years. Whoa! In a country so polarized, what are the chances that Congress will agree to each federal agency and program every ten years? Basically none.

Didn't you just give away the game here?  If you admit you cannot get "small d" democratic support for continuing these programs, where are their 'democratic' legitimacy?  

Granted, I can't fault someone for not trusting the people currently making the sunset proposals - I think they're lying SOBs on Iraq also - but forcing the govt to rethink the millions of pages of laws and regulations it generates is a good thing.  Did you oppose the Patriot Act having sunset provisions?  

Abu Ghraib: Hell House of the Religious Right II
by sendtoscott on Sun Jul 16, 2006 at 09:03:46 AM EST

This is a note from the site co-owner.

The topic of the site is the religious right and what to do about it.

It is not about religion or non-religion. It is not about what is true Christianity and what is not. It is not about government regulations and whether they are good or bad.

Joan Bokaer's post is very much on topic and I have a general idea where she is going with it in her series. It is on topic because she will describe where a certain kind of anti-government worldview comes from. It is a world view that is at once theocratic AND opposed to certain functions of government. Those who are unaware about such things should be patient, listen, and learn.

Comments debating the proper role and function of government per se are off topic, and the future will be deleted without notice.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 02:02:33 AM EST

How do the sponsors of this bill expect it to have any chance at all of passing when it would mean throwing hundreds of thousands of Federal employees out of work?

by exodoc on Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 02:42:06 PM EST

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