CNN's Blitzer & Cafferty: 'Never Heard of Dominionism'
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 12:06:51 PM EST
In case we were wondering why the Religious Right often seems to get such uncritical, or at least misguided coverage from so much of the mainstream media -- we need look no further than a recent segment from CNN's Situation Room.  It is the single most startlingly frank admission of ignorance on the part of major figures in journalism I have ever seen.

You could probably hear my dropping jaw hitting the floor when I heard  Jack Cafferty and Wolf Blitzer say they had never heard of dominionism until they read Michelle Goldberg's article on The Daily Beast.  They apparently had never heard of Christian Reconstructionism or the New Apostolic Reformation either.  Goldberg's article on Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann's relationship to all of this was certainly well done. But it is amazing that no other journalist of any prominence had looked into it before Goldberg's revelations.  There are many, and ever-more prominent pols with similar ties. And the failure of our national media and political culture to come to grips with this has been astounding. At least to me. As someone who has written about the Religious Right in its various dimensions for about 30 years, I've watched with horror as too many (but not all) mainstream media missed or misreported the stories of one of the most significant political movements of our time.

Blitzer and Cafferty et al have had plenty of opportunities to learn about dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism.  They could have read Michelle Goldberg's New York Times best-selling book Kingdom Coming:  The Rise of Christian Nationalism. in 2006.  They could have read my 1997 book, Eternal Hostility:  The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, or Sara Diamond's 1989 classic, Spiritual Warfare:  The Politics of the Christian Right. -- to name but a few that deal specifically with dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism. We were all widely in the media, including national broadcasts talking about this stuff.  They could also read material from such well established and well known organizations that study and counter the American right, as Americans United for Separation of Church & State and People for the American Way, and Political Research Associates. (PRA published my study of Christian Reconstructionism in 1994.)  Religion Dispatches reports on these things all the time as well.  They have been discussed in wider context in books by such scholarly best selling authors as Gary Wills, Harvey Cox, Jeff Sharlet and Kevin Phillips, to also name but a few, and in major articles in magazines as diverse as Reason and Mother Jones.  (I even discuss Christian Reconstructionism on camera in the 2007 Hollywood film documentary on the politics of abortion, Lake of Fire. Watch it for free, here.)  

You really cannot have been awake in American public life for the past few decades and not have encountered dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism.  Blitzer and Cafferty are far from alone in snoozing comfortably through this part of our national life. They are just more startlingly honest that this is no dream.

At the group blog Talk to Action my journalist, scholarly, and activist colleagues and I have been writing in a sustained and focused manner on these things since 2005.  If Blitzer and Cafferty -- or anyone else -- is interested in the New Apostolic Reformation, Bruce Wilson and Rachel Tabachnick have been doing ground-breaking research and analysis for several years. Here is a recent compilation of their reporting so far.

These things said, I am grateful for Blitzer and Cafferty's frankness.  I think the acknowledgement of their ignorance draws a bright line in our recent history.  I don't know that the bright line will lead us to an era of knowledge and enlightenment, but at least we have a chance of knowing what the darkness of ignorance looks like.

Very good article. I'm not so sure that Wolf didn't know about Dominionism... because he used to work for Pat Robertson. Surely, he would have had some idea what Robertson was up to... he was, after all, an investigative reporter. Wouldn't he have at least been familiar with the organization he worked for? Then again, given the state of the media in the U.S., maybe he didn't know anything.
Or maybe he didn't want to know.

From the YURICA Report: "Wolf used to work for Pat Robertson's CBN way back when Pat was setting up his news bureau and Wolf was the 700 Club's reporter from the Middle East. He was a lot younger in those days, but in those beginning days Pat exposed Wolf Blitzer to a viewing audience that topped the Nielsen ratings at 28.7 million monthly viewers! That's a great way to launch one's career. But Wolf Blitzer likes to keep that part of his career kind of quiet. He doesn't list the 700 Club's news bureau in his biography. He doesn't tell CNN's audience that Pat was like an angel to him when he was just an independent reporter starting out." vidCorn.html

by COinMS on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 01:53:07 PM EST

That explains quite a bit, but to the larger point not about Wolf, I think there is a certain amount of willful ignorance, Most of my friends(to clarify I'm in the 19-24 demographic) are left of center, and even the politically interested ones have either never heard of Dominionism or only know about it in passing. Heck I'm using Google Chrome and it doesn't recognize Dominionism as a word. The chief reason in my opinion is that no one wants to think of their fellow Americans as people who want to  take over the world. But apparently Dominionists want to, so we have to understand that. As well as the fact that they feel they are "liberating people." At this point they are liberating people from freedom.

by Hirador on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 07:14:06 PM EST

And I'll be writing in my next piece what this could mean for Catholic voters.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 04:09:05 PM EST

Joe Carter of the On The Square Blog of First Things has a post in which he disparages Sara Diamond for coining the term "Domionism," and makes the argument that Francis Schaeffer had nothing to do with Dominionist Movement.  Would someone at Talk2Action consider writing a blog post in response?

"I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair" - JFK, Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association
by hardindr on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 04:18:27 PM EST
Frank Schaeffer, Francis Schaeffer's son would disagree. See his article:

"Michele Bachmann Was Inspired By My Dad and His Christian Reconstructionist Friends -- Here's Why That's Terrifying"


by TomBishop on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 06:03:50 PM EST

I am familiar with Frank Schaeffer's view of his father.  Carter did not mention that in his blog post, though some of his commenters dismiss the younger Schaeffer's views on his father.

"I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair" - JFK, Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association
by hardindr on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 07:13:40 PM EST
By what evidence do they dismiss Frank Schaeffer's views of his father? Can they cite evidence or do they simply have a subjective attachment to their views?

by TomBishop on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 09:59:29 PM EST

dominionist apologist to me.  I don't know the person (never heard of him) and don't go to many blogs... but if he's saying that about Sara Diamond and Francis Shaeffer, I don't think he's someone to listen to or read.

Francis Shaeffer... I remember his name being connected with the Religious Right (aka dominionists, although some may scream at my connecting the two) back from my Assemblies of God days (33 to 30 years ago), when people in the churches would quote him and talk about him (especially leaders).  That's enough for me to place him in the dominionist camp.

Frank Shaeffer is well known to the walkaway community, and his involvement in the Religious Right is documented.  He talks about how his father and himself helped start the modern version of the movement, and also showed how its roots are solidly racist and bigoted from the beginning.  He's clear about the connections, and as a walkaway and former leader of the movement, his voice has more weight than most (and should).

They don't like people telling the truth about them, because their whole castle is a house of cards based upon lies.  They don't like exposure because it thwarts their efforts (nobody in their right mind would support them, once that person realized what they're really about).  

So they'll do anything they can to try to discredit those who oppose them.  Just as they try to discredit, demonize, and even use terrorism against walkaways who speak out and tell the truth against them.

by ArchaeoBob on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 10:56:02 AM EST

I've noted this ignorance in a lot of people.  Politicians, academics, and others have revealed themselves to be woefully ignorant of dominionism and the theocratic moves taking place right now, and often it seems that they dismiss our warnings without even reading or considering them because they just cannot accept that a major portion of the American populace could follow something so extreme.  From the people I've known who have woken up, it takes reading or hearing about the subject from someone they consider to be "authoritative" and accurate.  Once their eyes are opened, then they will look to other sources (like Talk2Action).

Even if they recognize the extremism of the Tea Party (for instance), they still dismiss it as politics, but only a little worse than usual.  Sometimes they're shocked by something, but they write it off as the words or actions of a "deranged individual", because American society has been taught to give corporations, churches, and other "good organizations" a pass.

A friend and I have been talking about academia (especially anthropology) needing to research how corporations have deliberately shaped American culture to serve them.  I also think that goes for churches... and thus the blind spot we keep running into.

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 04:37:42 PM EST

On the humble assumption that my understanding of the matter is accurate, I would like to gently point out that just as there's a substantial difference between mainstream Christians and NAR/Dominionist/theocratic wannabees, so it is that there's a distinction between the early Libertarian/Constitutionalist Tea Party a la Ron Paul and the later highjacked Tea Party of the Religious Right.


On the subject of why it's taken the mainstream media so long to 'wake up' here's an interesting video which explains how many folks can remain wilfully blind to even overwhelming amounts of credible evidence:

How To Brainwash A Nation‏ - YouTube: via @addthis

by MIJ6VI on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 05:39:58 PM EST

here on Talk2Action.

The constitution party is theocratic and dominionist and always has been.

Ron Paul is a dominionist.  He's supported dominionist causes.

The Tea Party has been dominionist from the beginning.  A few people, maybe not (maybe even a few splinter groups were not).  But from the first time I heard of the Tea Party, it was connected (at least in Florida) with the dominionist churches, and they've always supported dominionist causes.

So the Tea Party has never been an acceptable alternative, as the Theocrats have so valiantly tried to portray it.  

Second, I think you need to read my other posts.  There are mainstream Christians who are just as evil as the dominionists, and while there are mainstream churches who at least TRY to do the right thing, at the same time, most have been a source of misery for the poor and minorities throughout the centuries - especially to Native Americans.

I am a Christian, but I reject most of "Christianity" because it's the same old Calvinistic top-down authoritarian and exploitative setup that Jesus railed against (and which the dominionists want to FORCE on the rest of us).  In other words, they support the status quo and show preferential treatment to the rich and powerful while multiplying the burdens that the poor are forced to carry.

The Tea Party - just the Dominionists' political arm.  They have their jackbooted thugs too.

by ArchaeoBob on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 10:40:06 AM EST

The video is a double-edged sword.  Bezmenov states that left-leaning thinkers are, in effect, vessels of Marxist subversion.  Such a piece could serve as a useful propaganda tool in the hands of the far right.

However, I also understand the underlying message in that subversion does not have to be performed covertly in order to influence a mass populace.  

by LupusGreywalker on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 11:48:46 PM EST

Have you ever thought of revising and updating your book on Dominionism "Eternal Hostility"?
It is a very good book, but since it was written
over 10 years ago,  it seems that now is the time
to revise and expand it.  I consider myself  a
left-wing evangelical, and I am frightened and appalled at what is happening.  The Bible is being
taken out of its historical and textual context, and we need to sound a very loud alarm in the
Christian community.  Thank you for all you've done.  

by LFlatau on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:07:08 PM EST
I have thought about it, would like to, and started to do it once, but the whole project got derailed.  Very frustrating, but life goes on.  If I can find a way, or an opportunity presents itself, I would certainly like to go for it.  In the meantime, I am trying to get other book projects off the ground.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Aug 22, 2011 at 12:09:08 AM EST

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