“Breaking American democracy isn’t an unintended side effect of Christian nationalism. It is the point of the project.”
That’s from a New York Times essay today entitled “Christian Nationalists Are Excited About What Comes Next.” Author Katherine Stewart goes on to discuss last month’s Road to Majority Policy Conference in Nashville and its apparent embrace of dominionism.
The mention of dominionism immediately reminded me of something I wrote in 2011, “Dominionism and the presidency”:
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.
That was 11 years ago. You can imagine how I feel today. Only now my concern reaches far beyond a single individual in the White House.