Dominionism: The Shorter Definition
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 11:38:32 AM EST
Dominionism and how to define it has been an ongoing task for those of us who research and write about the Religious Right.  Back in 2005,  The Public Eye asked me to sort it out and to provide some contemporary context.  

At the time, I focused on the then-still-current controversy about Roy Moore's Ten Commandments monument and the role of televangelist and Christian Right leader D. James Kennedy.  Moore's political career has since fizzled out and Kennedy has died, but the broad issues remain the same, even as the players and the political dynamics have changed.  

Here is an excerpt from The Rise of Dominionism:
Remaking America as a Christian Nation

As readers of The Public Eye know, dominionism--in its "softest" form the belief that "America is a Christian Nation," and that Christians need to re-assert control over political and cultural institutions--has been on the rise for a long time. Since The Public Eye first began writing about dominionism ten years ago, the movement, broadly defined, has gained considerable power. Recently however, the term has become fashionable with some lumping every form of evangelical Christianity and every faction in the Bush White House into one big, single-minded imperial dominionist plot. Dominionism is narrower and more profound than that. It is the driving ideology of the Christian Right.

It comes in "hard" and "soft" varieties, with the "hard" or theocratic dominionists "a religious trend that arose in the 1970s as a series of small Christian movements that seek to establish a theocratic form of government," according Political Research Associates Senior Analyst Chip Berlet. The seminal form of Hard Dominionism is Christian Reconstructionism, which seeks to replace secular governance, and subsequently the U.S. Constitution, with a political and judicial system based on Old Testament Law, or Mosaic Law (see box). Not all dominionists embrace this view, though most dominionists look back to the early years of the American colonies to argue that before the Constitution, "the United States was originally envisioned as a society based on Biblical law."

Berlet's distinction between hard and soft dominionists is clear and broad enough to describe the two main wings of the movement. But these viewpoints, like the terms "theocrat" and "theocracy," are openly embraced by few. They are terms used by outside observers to understand a complex yet vitally important trend. So for people trying to figure out if a conservative politician, organization, or religious leader is "dominionist," I notice three characteristics that bridge both the hard and the soft kind.

  1.   Dominionists celebrate Christian nationalism, in that they believe that the United States once was, and should once again be, a Christian nation. In this way, they deny the Enlightenment roots of American democracy.

  2.   Dominionists promote religious supremacy, insofar as they generally do not respect the equality of other religions, or even other versions of Christianity.

  3.   Dominionists endorse theocratic visions, insofar as they believe that the Ten Commandments, or "biblical law," should be the foundation of American law, and that the U.S. Constitution should be seen as a vehicle for implementing Biblical principles.

Pieces of dominionism spill out in the day-to-day words and activities of our nation's leaders all the time. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) routinely hosts tours of the Capitol for constituents, Congressmembers and their staffs by Christian nationalist propagandist David Barton.  President George W. Bush claimed during one of his presidential campaign debates with John Kerry that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.  House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has said the United States should be governed under Biblical law.

And a dominionist-- Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) -- is a hopeful for the Republican presidential nomination for 2008, while other dominionists are challenging the GOP through the Constitution Party, the third largest party in the nation.  Moore himself is challenging a business-oriented incumbent in the GOP gubernatorial primary in Alabama for 2006.

Hard dominionists like Moore take these ideas to their extremes. They want to rewrite or replace or supplement the Constitution and Bill of Rights to codify specific elements of Biblical law. This would create a society that would be a theocracy. Soft dominionists like Brownback, on the other hand, propose a form of Christian nationalism that stops short of a codified legal theocracy. They may embrace a flat tax of 10% whose origins they place in the Bible. They are comfortable with little or no separation of church and state, seeing the secular state as eroding the place of the church in society.

Dominionism is therefore a broad political tendency--consisting of both hard and soft branches--organized through religiously based social movements that seeks power primarily through the electoral system. Dominionists work in coalitions with other religious and secular groups that primarily are active inside the Republican Party. They seek to build the kingdom of God in the here and now.

to divert our attention from what dominionism really is.

Let's stay focused.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Aug 26, 2011 at 11:05:03 PM EST

The discussion on religious rights never ends. Every person has its own opinion. Dominion isms have grown stringer in old days. Every problem now a days have solution but it needs patience and concentrations which dissertation writing services uk provides quality work. This article have provided very useful information.

by PatriciaJones on Sun Nov 22, 2020 at 07:27:46 AM EST

This article is very much interesting to read. I think dominionism is interpreted as the tendency of politically active conservative peoples to try to control the government. cbd oil for pain  They have expanded this to justify the theocratic rule of society.  

by annajohnsn on Mon Mar 23, 2020 at 06:22:07 AM EST

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