Some on the left


Another intimidation piece directed at journalists and researchers who write about dominionism, back in August. It’s in the Washington Post, which is a nice gig if you’re trying to intimidate people.

Here we go again. The Republican primaries are six months away, and already news stories are raising fears on the left about “crazy Christians.”

One piece connects Texas Gov. Rick Perry with a previously unknown Christian group called “The New Apostolic Reformation,” whose main objective is to “infiltrate government.” Another highlights whacko-sounding Christian influences on Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. A third cautions readers to be afraid, very afraid, of “dominionists.”

The stories raise real concerns about the world views of two prospective Republican nominees. But their echo-chamber effect reignites old anxieties among liberals about evangelical Christians. Some on the left seem suspicious that a firm belief in Jesus equals a desire to take over the world.

Maybe some on the left do, but the authors of the articles in question do not, so it’s bloody unfair to imply that they do. It’s an intimidation move.

This isn’t a defense of the religious beliefs of Bachmann or Perry, whatever they are. It’s a plea, given the acrimonious tone of our political discourse, for a certain amount of dispassionate care in the coverage of religion. Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they’re Christian. One-third of Americans call themselves “evangelical.” When millions of voters get lumped together and associated with the fringe views of a few, divisions will grow. Here, then, are some clarifying points.

But the writers in question took the requisite care. They didn’t lump all evangelicals with dominionists – on the contrary: they point out that to dominionists, plain old evangelicals are way too lukewarm. And dominionists, unfortunately, are not “a few.”

Evangelicals generally do not want to take over the world. “Dominionism” is the paranoid mot du jour. In its broadest sense, the term describes a Christian’s obligation to be active in the world, including in politics and government. More narrowly, some view it as Christian nationalism. You could argue that the 19th- and early 20th-century reformers – abolitionists, suffragists and temperance activists, for example – were dominionists, says Molly Worthen, who teaches religious history at the University of Toronto.

Well you could, but equally you could argue that anti-abolitionists and anti-suffragists were dominionists. Just as not all evangelicals are dominionists, so not all 19th century Christians were abolitionists…to put it mildly; in fact abolitionists, Christian and otherwise, were a tiny minority, despised by almost everyone. It’s endlessly irritating the way contemporary Christians claim credit for abolitionism when it would make vastly more sense for them to admit blame for pro-slavery.

Extremist dominionists do exist, as theocrats who hope to transform our democracy into something that looks like ancient Israel, complete with stoning as punishment. But “it’s a pretty small world,” says Worthen, who studies these groups.

Mark DeMoss, whose Atlanta-based public relations firm represents several Christian groups, put it this way: “You would be hard-pressed to find one in 1,000 Christians in America who could even wager a guess at what dominionism is.”

Seriously?! She quotes a PR guy on the subject as if his views were disinterested scholarship?

Washington Post, where are your editors?

Comments

  1. vicarofartonearth says

    I am not surprised that evangelicals don’t understand Dominionism, most don’t seem to have read the Bible.

    It seems the same thing, if something happens that is good, every Christian is in on it, if something goes wrong it is the individual.

    If you join the Republican party, you are saying you support a conservative platform. I guess there are liberal Republicans, but by joining one has made a statement. When one becomes a self indentified Evangelical, it is silly to keep saying you are different. There are non evangelical christian denominations if the label does not fit.

    Either live up to being an Evangelical or get off the pot.

    Any religion that has missionaries and seeks converts wants to take over the world, Catholic, Islam, Protestants, Buddists, etc.

  2. Jeff D says

    I’d venture that more than 1 Christian in 1,000 (probably at least 1 in one hundred) would approve of the policy prescriptions of Dominionism and would like to see them enshrined in American law and government, even though they cannot associate such poilcies with a particular label such as “Dominionism” or “Christian Reconstructionism” or “New Apostolic Reformation.”

    I can usually count on Lisa Miller (just like Jordan Sekulow) to coddle and protect and defend religion-in-general in her vague, lazy way. This latest essay by Ms. Miller is a good illustration of the reason for my new habit . . . not to visit the Washington Post “On Faith” website unprompted. These days, I only go there when I learn of a good essay from Dan Dennett, Paula Kirby, Susan Jacoby, etc.

    If the “On Faith” web site has an editor, that editor sets a very low bar.

  3. fastlane says

    I don’t have the time to do the research, but I’m just sure we can find lots of stories in the Washington Rag deploring statements by the right that “Some on the right seem suspicious that a firm belief in Allah equals a desire to take over the world.”

    And of course, there is probably at least one well written article that speaks out against “the acrimonious tone of our political discourse” coming from the political right. It’s not like instances of that are hard to find.

    And I’m just certain that there is a really hard hitting editorial that condemns “When millions of voters get lumped together and associated with the fringe views of a few, divisions will grow. Here, then, are some clarifying points”, like those that are made by the right about liberals, atheists, muslims, humanists, etc.

    Right? Right?? What’s that sound…?? Crickets?

  4. says

    Extremist dominionists do exist, as theocrats who hope to transform our democracy into something that looks like ancient Israel, complete with stoning as punishment.

    And it just so happens that it’s very likely that two of them want to be the PotUS! :O

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