A Culture of Life or Death?
Joan Bokaer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 06:30:29 AM EST
Part III in a series on dominionism and the federal government

As the President threatens to veto a bill authorizing stem-cell research, let's take a look at some other government actions reflecting the so called "culture of life." What does stem cell research have in common with Congressional intervention in Terri Schiavo's death and the death of the Sago coal mine workers in West Virginia? They all spring from dominionist ideology.

Stem cell research holds the potential to cure a host of disabling diseases. The Schiavo case was an attempt to extend a woman's life unnaturally, and the Sago mine accident led to untimely deaths. This so-called culture of life is actually about death -- unnatural or untimely, but all driven by dominionism.

D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries called on his followers to exercise "godly dominion" over every aspect of human society. At the same time as the government has been attempting to exercise "godly dominion," it has also been attempting to remove any regulations that interfere with business. In this spirit, President Bush appointed a coal mining lobbyist to rewrite coal mining regulations which ultimately led to the Sago mine tragedy in West Virginia. "Godly dominion" includes deregulation.

Exercising dominion over every aspect of our lives
At a "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference in February, 2005, the Reverend D. James Kennedy said:
Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.

Terri Schiavo: A Family's Private Tragedy Made Public

According to dominionist ideology, one of the "legitimate functions" of government is to restrain evil. Somehow, allowing someone to die naturally is considered evil. This became clear when Terri Schiavo's husband wanted to remove the feeding tube that had been keeping her in a persistent vegetative state for fifteen years. Hundreds of deeply concerned people camped out on her lawn praying for the government to intervene. And intervene it did.

Many people were puzzled by a special midnight vote.  Do you remember when the Republican leadership of Congress called this vote and forced our legislators to fly home from their spring breaks? And to make the moment all the more poignant, President Bush interrupted his vacation at his ranch to fly home on Air Force One so that he could sign the legislation into law.

Every court in Florida had ruled on behalf of Terri Schiavo's husband -- to remove the feeding tube. But the dominionist leadership of Congress and the White House saw it as their moral duty to intervene. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the decision to stand with the Florida Courts and the tube was finally removed. RIP

The untimely death of mine workers

Since Bush assumed the Presidency, he has been appointing anti-regulatory lobbyists and business executives to key regulatory positions. These appointments have a deep impact on the environment, public health and worker safety. The Sago mine workers were simply victims of an ideology articulated by the Texas Republican Party Platform This platform is a blueprint for dominionism. The Platform calls for "unfettered" capitalism. That's their term: "unfettered." Now let's go from an ideal to the reality. A New York Times editorial from March 21, 2006, Slapping King Coal's Wrist demonstrates what happens in "unfettered" capitalism :

The Bush administration's accommodation of the mining industry -- notably by packing the mine safety agencies with pro-management appointees -- has produced a marked decline in major fines for negligent companies. A recent data analysis by The Times documented a risky, business-friendly downturn in penalties since 2001. At the same time, nearly half of the announced fines still go uncollected.

With a rash of 24 mine deaths so far this year, Congress is considering tougher fines of up to $500,000 for culpable companies. But what good are fines if they are not being forcefully used by the federal agencies supposedly responsible for workers' safety? This question must be asked in deadly earnest in the case of the Sago Mine in West Virginia, where a dozen miners perished in January. The company was later found to have been cited for 273 violations in two years' time, not one of them costing more than $460.

Under present practices, fines are rarely levied at the maximum level, and even then companies can negotiate the penalties downward through an industry-friendly appeals process. Fines as low as $60, if collected, amount to jaywalking tickets.
Beyond the slump in fines, the administration's record has been distinguished by budget and job cuts in critical mine safety agencies. Lately, there's been a flurry of reform proposals in response to the deaths in the headlines. But an administration that prefers to fill key regulatory positions with mining lobbyists and executives has a long way to go toward miner safety.


So we've seen two examples of the "culture of life" in action. One attempted to use government to keep a woman alive after fifteen years in a persistent vegetative state, the other led to the untimely death of twelve mine workers.

Here are Part I and Part II of this series exploring the role of dominionism and government.




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This attitude toward death is also reflected in the government's reaction to Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. The citizens of Oregon passed twice a referendum allowing some terminally ill patients to seek physician-assisted suicide.

Both Attorney Generals John Ashcroft and his successor Alberto Gonzales sued the state of Oregon to have the law struck down. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Oregon. The government's intervention in this case is a prime example of what the Reverend Kennedy was talking about when he called for exercising "godly dominion" over every aspect of society. "Godly dominion" means taking away our choices regarding life (abortion) and death. Ironically, "godly dominion" also includes removing environmental, public health or worker safety laws that hamper businesses.

by Joan Bokaer on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 06:40:56 AM EST


The fascinating thing about the Schiavo case is that the laws, legal definitions, and procedures governing that case were all approved by Red State legislators, who were voted into office by Red State voters.  In addition, Judge Greer, the primary judge in the case, is a conservative Christian and Republican voted into office by Red State voters.  And for all the ballyhoo over this case, the very same laws that governed the Schiavo case are still on the books today.

In spite of all this, the outcome in the Schiavo case is somehow due to the "culture of death" liberals.

by siguiriya on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 12:20:44 PM EST

Everyone is free to agree or disagree with me here, but I think if we actually saw a genuinely godly dominionism (whether or not that would be American is another discussion) it would be concerned about the welfare of its people. If it was genuinely God-ly, it would benefit all, not just some. It would be more like valuing and taking care of our planet and all we have been given as a good steward would, not taking care of corporations.
When we hear about the hypocrisy of these organizations that talk about godliness and cut federal safeguards, and cut funds to beneficial scientific research, we are not seeing something godly we are seeing a fake, a phony.
I'm tempted to lump those dead miners in with Carla Faye Tucker, who when faced with execution had then governor George Bush make fun of her, joking, "Save me! Save me!" The same lack of sympathy for her plight is, I think, the same lack of sympathy GWB has for working people, those dead miners.
I don't think the right is necessarily a culture of death, as much as it is a culture of 'I don't care.' It's a culture of a psychopath, really. This is my humble opinion, of course, based on my previous life as an uncaring right wing republican.

by Tin Soul on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 06:10:06 PM EST

Thank you so much for your writing and the depth of you thought.

You are the reason I joined this blog. Hopefully the nature of my writing will be of some interest.

I've been culling from the Texas Republican Platform...bottom fishing you might say. I didnt know the ocean was that deep. No light either.

I do think it might be good to expose the nature of their postions, to let as many people know what their position is, and what their longterm and immediate goals are.
Armadillo's still digging
by cricket on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 11:35:28 PM EST



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