Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part IV
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Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 06:29:13 PM EST
What is at stake here are two very different understandings of the Bible, American history, and Christianity itself, specifically what it means to be a Christian in a cosmopolitan society.  The Dominionists claim absolute validity and exclusivity for Christians, relegating adherents of any other religion to second-class status (or worse), they place the blame for America's failings and problems squarely at the feet of the political and social left, whom they regard as dangerous anti-Christian radicals.  The Christian left, on the other hand, celebrates the diversity of the world's religions while affirming our own commitment to the Christian tradition, we value and affirm the religious experience of our fellow Americans as well as their right to worship (or not worship) according to their own conscience, and we reaffirm our commitment to the principles of the Enlightenment and of the Founders - reason, tolerance, respect for science, personal liberty, and religious freedom.

Join me below the fold for a look at a brief essay by one of the most famous Dominionists in America today, D. James Kennedy....

Welcome to this fourth installment of my critical review of the booklet America, Return to God, edited by Thomas Wang.  The last two installments were critiques of essays in Part I of the booklet, "From Faith to Unbelief: America in Decline."  In this fourth installment we will move to Part II: "From Unbelief to Repentance: America in Restoration."

In Part I, Wang assembles essays from a variety of sources to demonstrate what he considers to be America's fall from divine favor and loss of its faith in Jesus Christ.  As we have had to reiterate on each occasion, this interpretive lens - so central to Dominionist thought - is a myth.  America is not a Christian nation and has never been a Christian nation.  The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States expresses in no uncertain terms that the government shall make no law establishing religion, nor shall it prevent the free exercise of religion by any citizen.  Thomas Jefferson, interpreting these clauses of the First Amendment, famously described a "wall of separation between church and state."  This principle of separation has been a foundation of American democracy and religious liberty for over 200 years, and that foundation is under attack by the Christian Dominionists who desire nothing less than the Christianization of America.

D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries and of The Center for Reclaiming America for Christ (now closed) is one of the most outspoken Dominionists currently active in the United States.  His radio and television shows reach millions around the world.  In Wang's booklet, Kennedy asks the question, "Christianizing America?"

There are some who would accuse us of trying to Christianize America.  Am I trying to Christianize America?  You bet your boots I am!  (Kennedy, 92)

Kennedy, like many Dominionists, does not pretend to operate within the bounds of constitutional tradition or law.  His goal, and the goal of Dominionists, is total domination of American society - "reclaiming America for Christ."  

Some act as if that were some sort of un-American thing to do.  May I simply remind them of their own history.  (Kennedy, 92)

Kennedy, as have others in this booklet, claims that theocracy and Christianization are thoroughly American ideals, and he turns to American history in an attempt to prove his point.  In this essay, Kennedy turns to The First Virginia Charter (1606) written at Jamestown, Virginia, to prove America's Christian heritage and its theocratic ideals.  The First Virginia Charter does, in fact, include explicit references to promulgation of the Christian religion on Virginia's shores:

Wee, greately commending and graciously accepting of theire desires to the furtherance of soe noble a worke which may, by the providence of Almightie God, hereafter tende to the glorie of His Divine Majestie in propagating of Christian religion to suche people as yet live in darkenesse and miserable ignorance of the true knoweledge and worshippe of God and may in tyme bring the infidels and salvages living in those parts to humane civilitie and to a setled and quiet govermente, doe by theise our lettres patents graciously accepte of and agree to theire humble and well intended desires...

Kennedy refers to this charter - written 170 years before the American colonists declared independence from Britain - as incontrovertible proof of America's Christian destiny.  Such arguments should not require rebuttal at all, except to reiterate this basic historical fact: the United States of America did not exist as an independent nation until the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776.  References to documents written and adopted before that date, while certainly of historical interest, cannot be afforded the same respect and legitimacy as documents written and adopted after that date, including - most importantly - the Constitution.

Again, the Dominionists justify their agenda by means of a myth, or, to put it in starker terms, an "Ig-Noble Lie.  They perpetuate the myth that America was founded as a Christian nation, that the Constitution does not intend to maintain a separation of church and state, and that theocracy (or Christocracy) has always been America's destiny.  

In order to understand this particular version of Dominionism more fully, and to understand just how popular and influential Kennedy and his Coral Ridge Ministry really are, I urge you to peruse his websites:

Coral Ridge Ministries

Center for Reclaiming America for Christ

The Patriot Circle (for a $150 donation, members of the Patriot Circle receive DVDs entitled "One Nation Under God," "The War on Religious Liberty," and "Who Is This Jesus?," a handbook copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and a copy of Kennedy's book, "Lord of All")



Previous Installments:

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part I

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part II

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part III




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