Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 02:57:04 PM EST
I understand why participants in the Christian Right socio-political movement would deny there is an ongoing debate inside and outside Christian constituencies over the role of Dominionism.

I understand that most journalists have not heard of Dominionism or Dominion Theology; but most journalist have no clue there is a difference between evangelicals and fundamentalists.

What I do not understand is why bylines articles are appearing which claim that Dominionism as a tendency is a left-wing hoax when any high school student with a library card could find both journalistic and scholarly references dating back over twenty years.

I will be updating my essay on Dominionism over the next few days. If you want to understand the current field of Republican Presidential candidates, you need to understand how Christian Right Dominionists are a major force inside the Tea Party movement...a fact demonstrated by scholars this week.

I am sitting in an airport terminal returning home after attending the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, and a two day seminar by the ASA section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements. I am a member of both groups. I am a journalist but also a scholar who has written about Dominionism as a tendency within the Christian Right since the late 1980s. Before you challenge my claim to be a scholar, I suggest you visit this page on my published scholarly research.

It is true that many of us who are also journalists are critical of the Christian Right. Many of us debate the parameters of Dominionism and Dominion Theology in the Christian Right. And some of us post here on TalktoAction. Sometimes we disagree with each other, and we debate these issues in e-mails, on Twitter, and in personal meetings when we cover Christian Right events.

So let me be blunt. If you are journalist who writes that there is no such thing as Dominionism or Dominion Theology, or that it is an invention of the anti-Christian left, you are either ignorant, lazy, or incompetent. It is one thing to quote people making this false claim... but don't embarrass yourself by not doing some homework.




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Ignorant, lazy, or incompetent.  Very accurate.  It got a delighted laugh out of me.

I might add a co-conspirator.  When you connect the owners of the media to people like the Kochs, and then back to the dominionists...  they may be obeying their marching orders.   (The mainstream media has been demonstrated to be racist, and it is no stretch to extend that to supporting dominionism and the extension of the status quo.)

by ArchaeoBob on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 04:04:46 PM EST

I just do not buy into these straight line conspiracy claims.  There are a lot of different forces with different ideologies involved in what is going on.
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Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 08:55:44 PM EST
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who is obeying who's marching orders? The dominionists obeying the Koch brothers, or vice versa, or are they one and the same? Us leftists want to know!

Jim of Olym


by rdrjames on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 07:52:05 PM EST
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NPR interviewed evangelical Christian critic of the far right, Richard Cizik.  During the course of the discussion Terry Gross broach him with the question regarding the Tea Party's relation with Religious Right.  The reverend responded by saying that the Tea Party movement was libertarian  and thus,, was at odds with conservative evangelicals.  

Below, is an excerpt of the interview:

GROSS: Is this a loss of power for the Christian right because the Tea Party seems to be taking up more of the public space and the public image?

Rev. CIZIK: Well, the Tea Party movement - it may be a loss of power, absolutely. The Tea Party, moreover, is libertarian. That's why a lot of evangelicals on the right don't identify with it. I'm not there. I'm not a libertarian, per se, and so that's one of my problems with the Tea Party movement.

But the religious right may oppose the Tea Party movement to some degree over loss of power, that's true. But we shouldn't be about this because of our interest in simply owning and holding political power.

GROSS: So is there a place where the Christian right and the Tea Party come together? I can't tell how aligned they are. I can't tell how many people in the Tea Party also identify as evangelicals.

Rev. CIZIK: There's a certain adherence to traditional value in the sense that I think most Tea Party movement people say they believe in God and the Constitution and that's a kind of litmus test for them, the Constitution, but I don't see how this marriage occurs. Because, fundamentally, the Tea Party is libertarian, evangelical right or not, and I think ultimately, it won't work, in other words, the merger of evangelical right and the Tea Party movement, because there are these internal contradictions.

GROSS: Such as?

Rev. CIZIK: Well, that you can't have government action to restrict abortion, for example, and be libertarian toward the power and role of government. I mean isn't that an internal contradiction?

GROSS: I see what you're saying.

Rev. CIZIK: And that's why libertarians are common in the Tea Party movement, and why evangelical right leaders are not libertarians.

(The full transcript can be found here: http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=12 8776382)

According to Cizik, the Tea Party had "lost power" to evangelical conservatives.  But if I'm not mistaken, they were hijacked by the Religious Right instead.

by LupusGreywalker on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 06:19:23 PM EST

In the Tea Party
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Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 08:52:32 PM EST
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...head at that one. Now, I can believe that there were some libertarians originally, but most of them got out when Dick Armey and his corporate-friendly organizing, along with Fox News Corp. forcing the matter into the "mainstream", became the "Tea Party". And from there it didn't seem to take long for the Christian Nationalists to make substantial inroads in the membership. The racist banners and the "We came unarmed...this time!" posters were definitely not carried by libertarians, unless they're really confused.

by trog69 on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 12:58:09 AM EST
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"So let me be blunt. If you are journalist who writes that there is no such thing as Dominionism or Dominion Theology, or that it is an invention of the anti-Christian left, you are either ignorant, lazy, or incompetent...

OR, you have an agenda."

--Linda


by Raksha on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 06:51:55 PM EST

To be journalists. Actually some are, but many are just shabby propagandists.
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Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 08:57:12 PM EST
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@maddow @jackcafferty @postlive Lisa Miller: | Dominionism is Theocratic, Dominion Theology is Totalitarian http://bit.ly/q5QoIx via @addthis

by MIJ6VI on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 08:54:45 PM EST

Mr. Berlet,

What you do not appear to understand is that very few Christians even know that this movement exists. It is not very influential, nor even very well known, within Evangelical circles. When journalists say that leftists are hyping something inconsequential, it is because they know Evangelical Christianity in America and cannot see anyplace in those circles where the Dominionists are even visible, let alone pulling any weight. Sure, they have web sites, but anybody or his mother can put up a web site.

Furthermore, you seem stuck in the conflation between "Dominionism" and "Christian Reconstruction." They are not the same thing; they are not related. If Rousas Rushdoony, the founder of Christian Reconstruction, were told that he was the forerunner of the modern "Dominionism," he might just punch your face (if he were alive; he died in 2001). He would have objected that strongly.

Most notably, the Christian Reconstruction movement was about theocracy. They believed in rewriting the rules of secular government entirely in biblical terms, using the Law of Moses as a template. The modern "Dominionism" does advocate political activism, but recognizes a clear distinction between Christ's heavenly kingdom and terrestrial, secular nations. Their activism falls completely into the realm of legal, ordinary political activism, and claims no goal of creating earthly governments that use an Ancient Near East template. On the contrary, most of the current Dominionists regard the US Constitution as completely compatible with godliness, and are content to live within its bounds. They are no more threatening than ordinary Republicans. (I'm sure you consider that threatening enough, but that's just your bias talking.)

I read your essay on Dominionism. People reading that document should note carefully that every place you connect "Dominionism" with "Christian Reconstruction," you do it by vague implication and against the public statements of Dominionist leaders. Rousas Rushdoony's scholarship regarding Mosaic Law was excellent, and many modern Christians are aware of, and recommend, his books on the subject. Their recommendation does not constitute an endorsement of his political philosophy, which they all explicitly reject.

And by the way -- Christian Reconstruction was several orders of magnitude smaller and less influential than modern Dominionism, which is, itself, relatively small in modern Evangelicalism. They had practically no influence at all.

What the left is doing is attempting to generate fear, and to paste that fear onto well-known conservative politicians, by conflating a relatively innocuous, small movement with a heavy-handed, even smaller theocratic group. Calling it "hype" is accurate. And while I prefer not to engage in name-calling, I cannot help but notice that you ended your piece by calling others "lazy, incompetent, or ignorant." You need to make those accusations in the mirror, sir: it is you who should be embarrassed by your failure to do your homework.

by philWynk on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 10:07:47 AM EST

If the dominionists win (and if you aren't one of them), when they have a gun to your head and demand that you convert or die, it won't matter if they're reconstructionists or NAR.   If you deny them, you're dead either way.

In real life terms, they're essentially the same, although they may believe slightly different things.

The reality of this situation is this - we have a bunch of people trying to convert this country to a theocracy.  I could care less about their differences in theology; their goals are the same and the end result for most of the population (especially those who don't go along) will be the same.

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 11:26:33 AM EST
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Frank Schaffer posted numerous articles on the rise of dominionist influence in evangelical Christianity.  He is not, what I would call, just 'anybody.'


http://www.politicususa.com/en/frank-schaeffer-michele-bachmanns- faith-anti-american


http://frank-schaeffer.blogspot.com/2011/08/are-far-right-evangel icals-really-no.html


Also, red herring statements - such as the quoted one below - do not help bolster your case either.  (No one know how Rushdoony would have felt since he's already dead.)


"If Rousas Rushdoony, the founder of Christian Reconstruction, were told that he was the forerunner of the modern "Dominionism," he might just punch your face (if he were alive; he died in 2001). He would have objected that strongly."


The same could be said for Karl Marx and the development of Soviet-style communism.  It is not uncommon for founding ideals to mutate into something completely different from what they were originally intended.  


"Their activism falls completely into the realm of legal, ordinary political activism, and claims no goal of creating earthly governments that use an Ancient Near East template. On the contrary, most of the current Dominionists regard the US Constitution as completely compatible with godliness, and are content to live within its bounds."


Apparently, you haven't done much research on the `7 Mountains` movement and all that it entails either.  If you did then you would know that the U.S. Constitution (as it is undertand today) is incompatible with dominionist theology.


http://www.reclaim7mountains.com/


"What the left is doing is attempting to generate fear, and to paste that fear onto well-known conservative politicians, by conflating a relatively innocuous, small movement with a heavy-handed, even smaller theocratic group."


Innocuous???  Call my conclusions far-fetched, but I imagine a number of Ugandan homosexuals (probably all) would take issue with that assertion.  


http://churchandstate.org.uk/2010/10/six-reasons-why-americans-sh ould-care-about-what-is-happening-in-uganda/


http://proto-protestantism.blogspot.com/2011/01/dominionist-machi ne-meddling-in-uganda.html


The fear is also justified when we see our elected officials rubbing shoulders with the likes of prominent Reconstructionist-supporting hardliners like Lou Engles and John Hagee.  


"You need to make those accusations in the mirror, sir: it is you who should be embarrassed by your failure to do your homework."


A Republican friend of mine made a similar statement;  turns out he was a closet...um, vampire.  


by LupusGreywalker on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 11:48:01 AM EST
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Spelling correction on his last name.

by LupusGreywalker on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 04:11:30 PM EST
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Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 07:45:54 AM EST
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