Dominionism. Ever heard of it? I hadn’t until today, when CNN’s Jack Cafferty did a piece on it. His question was, “How much does it worry you if both Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have ties to Dominionism?”
I didn’t know if I was worried or not; I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. So I decided to read a bit about it.
I decided to start with as neutral a definition as I could find. The Free Dictionary says of “Dominion Theology”:
Dominion Theology is a grouping of theological systems with the common belief that the law of God — as codified in the Bible — should exclusively govern society, to the exclusion of secular law, a view also known as theonomy.
It says a lot more than that, actually. Stuff you might want to know about. But I’m trying to be objective here.
Dominionism, in the context of politics and religion, is the tendency among some politically active conservative Christians to seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action, especially in the United States. … The goal is either a nation governed by Christians, or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law.
Even with Wikipedia, neutrality is not assured. It is, after all, written by contributors who are free to challenge and edit the contributions of others. I predict the dominionism entry is about to become a hot Wiki Wars battleground, with liberals and conservatives trying to spin it to their advantage.
The minute you read beyond Wikipedia to, say, Sunday’s Daily Beast article, this dominionism stuff starts looking pretty ominous. In “A Christian Plot for Domination?” Michelle Goldberg writes, “Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions.” What follows is a detailed report on the rise of Dominionism and how it influences today’s political candidates, particularly Bachmann and Perry. For starters, both say they were “called by God” to run for president.
I’m not sure it’s worth my time to read much beyond the Beast’s detailed story. We know how liberally biased the press is. Nothing they say about Dominionism is going to be good; they’re all out to take down good Christian Republicans.
And we can’t expect to get an unbiased opinion from the right either, because they’ll just quote the Bible:
And God blessed [Adam and Eve] and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” —Genesis 1:28 (KJV)
One doesn’t argue with the Bible. Nor could the Bible possibly be guilty of modern-day political bias since, after all, it was written way back in Biblical times.
Personally, I’m not a believer. Haven’t been since I was old enough to take a few science classes and start thinking for myself. But it’s never been a big deal one way or the other. Why should anyone else care what I believe or don’t believe? I don’t bother anybody. I don’t go around trying to force my non-belief on others. I’ll be just as respectful of someone else’s belief as they are of my unbelief. And yet … they keep trying to force their belief on me. Why is that? What gives them the right? The Constitution and just plain ol’ good manners say they should keep their religion out of my life. Their reply, of course, is that they “answer to a higher power.” Higher than any mere mortal or the laws of mortals. They answer only to God. And apparently God is telling them to run for office, win the presidency, and turn the country into a theocracy.
Theocracy. A country where the dominant religion controls and runs everything according to that religion’s edicts. The best modern example is Iran. It sounds to me as though Dominionism in America would be similar to Sharia law in Iran.
So, Cafferty asked if it worries me that Bachmann and Perry have ties to Dominionism. Nah, “worried” is what I’ve been about ordinary, everyday, right-wing religious nuts. Dominionists who could become president scare the bejesus out of me.
9 thoughts on “Dominionism and the presidency”
I’ve got to hand it to you Pied. You’ve done it again. My religious beliefs and how I came to have them mirror yours in every particular. And when I received Cafferty’s email question, I too was curious enough to verify that my understanding of the word, “dominionism” was correct. And just as you did, I walked through the mental steps of questioning the illogical need of an omnipotent supreme being to charge his/it’s followers to cleave only to himself under pain of damnation and as well, to challenge nonbelievers with a constant sales pitch. As if the guy were really just some insecure teenager in search of validation. My story ends there, but you made it into a great blog entry that I used to validate my own sense of wonderment. I can’t add anything but this little comment: A bunch of unsophisticated observers opined that Jesus resurrected the dead, or almost dead anyway. Can you imagine what they would have said if they had witnessed this “savior?”
Oh my, that would have created quite a buzz back then.
I saw an interview about this with a New Yorker mag journalist. It all sounded pretty lame to me. I mean, just because a person believes in their religion doesn’t make them a nut. I’m sure atheists believe in their philosophies just as strongly, if not stronger, yet is there anyone predicting out there predicting that they want to take over the government in order so they can outlaw God?
Unfortunately, in today’s overly significant world, some people just have way too much time on their hands.
I’ve got nothing against people who have strong religious beliefs. But seeking to control the arts, education, religion, business, media, and government (I left out family; that’s a private decision) in order to impose Biblical law “to the exclusion of secular law” (and, presumably, any other religion) is stepping waaaaay over the line. We have freedom of religion in this country. We have separation of church and state. To even imagine throwing all that out the window in order to impose antiquated Biblical law on an entire multi-ethnic, multi-religion nation of secular laws is, in my opinion, dangerously nuts.
The “AMEN” was in reply to you, Pied. Somehow it didn’t end up in the right place. :-/
Thanks, Cheryl. Sorry this comment hierarchy is so wonky.
Dominionism or Theonomy is indeed real, but it is an extremely small number of people. Not even a good blip on the radar screen. And, even though Bachman and Perry are accused of “ties” to dominionism, I can assure you they are not theonomists. Theonomy is not close to a main stream Christian position, even among Evanglicals. It is actually spawned from Reformed Theology and mainstream Reformed Theologians condemn the system as non-Biblical. So, relax, there is no great threat that the Dominionists or Theonomists will be forcing you to bow the knee any time soon.
Actually, even the movement doesn’t attempt to force allegiance to Christ. The tenants of Theonomy (which is not Theocracy) teach that the majority of people will become Christians and want to follow God’s law. It does not teach a forcing of people to obey God. The Kingdom of God will come as people choose to believe the gospel and obey Christ, not a forced condition.
Well, it’s a relief to know there are few if any dominionists or theonomists running for office. But even an everyday evangelical running for the presidency is of great concern. I don’t trust that anyone with such beliefs will be answerable to the Constitution and the laws of the land when they genuinely believe and openly state that they are “answerable to a higher power” [George W. Bush]. And think they will try to impose laws based on their religious beliefs despite the separation doctrine (eg., the ongoing attacks on women’s abortion rights).