Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part III
In this short installment we will explore an essay by the editor, Thomas Wang (dubbed "The Chinese Billy Graham"), entitled "The Neo-Pagan Drift."
Unfortunately, Wang never defines what he means by "neo-paganism," preferring to allow the term to speak for itself. As we work through this short essay, we will soon see, however, that by "neo-paganism" Wang simply means any philosophy or ideology that is not explicitly rooted in his narrow interpretation of conservative Protestant Christianity:
In America today, a gigantic force is advancing swiftly and cunningly among every walk of life (including some Christian churches). We call this devastating impetus the Neo-Pagan Drift.
This "neo-pagan drift" is the reason for all of America's ills, as Wang repeatedly laments that America could again be great if only it would
go through a nation-wide self-examination, under the search light of the Spirit of God on her national purpose, integrity and allegiance to Jesus Christ.
It has been said here many times, and, sadly, it must be said again: America IS NOT and NEVER HAS BEEN a Christian nation. The fact that a majority of Americans may self-identify as Christian does not make America a Christian nation. Any such claim is expressly forbidden by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. America owes no allegiance to Jesus Christ. America owes allegiance only to its own Constitution, to the rule of law, and to the protection of the right of every citizen to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Wang suggests that America's fate lies in the religious conviction of its leaders. He suggests that the President, Vice President, members of Congress, and Supreme Court Justices need only spend 15 minutes a day in prayer, and America will be healed:
Leaders of the United States must come back to God! That old-time religion has to be once again accepted, honored, and practiced in the United States Capitol and by her people. This is the thing that will surely save America!
To repeat: America is not a Christian nation. It has never been a Christian nation. At no time in the nation's history has the government of the United States sworn "allegiance to Jesus Christ." At no time in the nation's history has any chief executive demanded faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of the nation. Wang's call for America's return to Christ is based on a myth, a misreading of American history, and a Dominionist ideology.
What is most alarming in this collection of truly alarming statements by Wang is his claim that the Constitution must be subordinated to what he calls the "Constitution of God which governs the whole universe." (I can only surmise that he means the Bible here - I've been studying theology for more than a decade and I've never heard of "God's Constitution.")
Let us be reminded that high above the Constitution of the United States is the CONSTITUTION of God which governs the whole universe! Dare we tamper with it! If prayer and Bible reading in our public schools are "unconstitutional," then our Constitution is unconstitutional under the Sovereign God!
Here we arrive at the true agenda of the Dominionists. First they attempt to demonstrate a relationship between what they consider to be an unprecedented decline in American morality and the "de-Christianization" of America. Next, they attempt to rewrite the history of the United States to emphasize its "Christian" character and issue a call for renewal. Finally, they call for theocracy. If the Constitution is shown to be "unbiblical" and incompatible with extreme conservative Protestant Christianity, then American constitutional democracy must be abolished and replaced with biblical law.
Wang finally turns to public education as the prime example of America's decline:
Higher education today serves only to build up an apology for atheism. Christian young people today continually confront human theories against the Bible; Darwin's Evolution or God's Creation? We are not leading our young people to God through our current educational system.
This is the true intention of the Dominionists: replace the secular with the religious in every sphere of public life, including public education. If the Establishment Clause forbids "leading our young people to God" through the public school curriculum, then the Establishment Clause should be overturned.
The Dominionists are not content to limit religious education to the home and the church; it must be the priority of the public schools as well. Never mind that there are adherents of other religious traditions also attending public schools. If they do not confess Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior, they must be converted. Never mind that the purpose of public education is to prepare citizens for life in the secular democracy that is the United States.
Again, these Dominionist positions are rooted in the claim for Christian absolutism and exclusivity. (I hasten to add here that not all Christian absolutists are Dominionists. But all Dominionists are Christian absolutists.) According to this way of thinking, Christianity is the sole true religion, and therefore all other religions are false and, by extension, manifestations of evil or, as Wang puts it, "neo-paganism." Dominionists are not interested in religious pluralism of any type, nor are they interested in dialogue with other religious traditions or peaceful cohabitation. They are interested in conversion and in a Christian government with free license to evangelize its citizens with public funds and public means.
Progressive Christians and even many conservative Christians, unlike the Dominionists, tend to be religious pluralists, celebrating the diversity of human religious experience and the rich treasure of the world's religious traditions. To Wang, anyone claiming to be a Christian while refusing to profess a Dominionist ideology is not a Christian at all. They are the worst sort of impostor: neo-pagans in Christian disguise. Christians who do not share the Dominionist ideology and agenda are every bit as Christian as the Dominionists (and many would argue are certainly more in line with the rich heritage of Christianity than the Dominionists ever will be). We are Christians for a reason: we find truth in the gospel and our experience of The Divine is most effectively understood by means of the Christian tradition. We do not require or assume that others will share this experience or understand their own religious experience in Christian terms. We do not expect others to subscribe to our worldview before valuing them as human beings, before happily calling them fellow Americans, before working together with them for a better world. We acknowledge with humility that our knowledge of God is limited by our finitude, by the limits of our reason, and by the conditions of history. We do not denigrate science as anti-Christian; rather, we engage in earnest conversation with science in hopes of learning all we can about the physical universe and our place in it. We do not feel threatened by a strict separation of church and state. We honor the Constitution of the United States and the democratic ideals of our secular Republic. We affirm the dignity of every human being, regardless of sex, race, class, religious belief or unbelief, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental ability, or national or ethnic identity. Finally, it is our duty and delight to work tirelessly for peace, for justice, and for the equality of all people.
Which position looks more like the America we know and love?
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part III | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part III | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)