Aug 21 2011

Finally, the Media is Discovering Christian Dominionism

Well, it seems that the Christian Dominionists, those pesky people who yearn for an America governed by biblical law, are at long last getting some attention from the media. As veteran writer on the Religious Right Fred Clarkson wrote the other day on Talk2Action:

“You could probably hear my dropping jaw hitting the floor when I heard  Jack Cafferty and Wolf Blitzer say they had never heard of dominionism until they read Michelle Goldberg’s article on The Daily Beast. They apparently had never heard of Christian Reconstructionism or the New Apostolic Reformation either. Goldberg’s article on Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann’s relationship to all of this was certainly well done. But it is amazing that no other journalist of any prominence had looked into it before Goldberg’s revelations.”

To those of us who have been watching and writing about these religio-political movements for years, this sudden media acknowledgement that these movements actually exist and are newsworthy (now that two presidential candidates are tied to them) is somewhat of a mixed blessing. I’ve heard the same thing from several of my fellow “fundie fighters” this week — we’re thrilled that the media is finally paying attention, but frustrated that the people reporting on this stuff don’t understand it well enough to adequately cover it.

So, I’ve decided to give my recommendations for some good resources for people who want a crash course from the real experts on these various movements, all of which have aspects that overlap, but can be categorized into four distinct goups.

The New Apostolic Reformation (Rick Perry’s pals who Rachel Maddow recently reported on): Talk2Action’s Rachel Tabachnick has done the heavy lifting for this one, compiling a great resource page, which can be found here.

The Dominionists: Leah Burton’s website godsownparty.com is the place to go. Leah also has a book coming out on September 4th called God, Guns, & Greed: A Dangerous Path for America, which is now available for pre-order (and I pre-recommend).

The Christian Reconstructionists: Let’s go with Fred Clarkson on this one, and the four-part breakdown that he wrote way back in 1994 for The Public Eye Magazine. (I actually highly recommend anything that either Fred Clarkson or Chip Berlet have written for The Public Eye over the years, so do some exploring on this site.)

The Christian Zionists: Definitely the “Special Focus” page that Bruce Wilson put together on Talk2Action.

Also, if you haven’t read the 2006 book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg (whose recent Daily Beast article is what made CNN take notice of the Dominionists), that’s another good place to start, so read it.


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  1. 1

    Unbelievable that our media is so incompetent. Where have these numbskulls been not to have noticed this–at all?

    Oh, wait. I know where: Stuck in their incestuous DC bubble, that’s where.

  2. 2

    Chris – I presume you know that most of the adverts served with this page are for christian investments or pay to get people to pray for you?

  3. 3
    Brett McCoy

    I first heard of the term from this site:


    Don’t know how current it is now, but it was updated constantly in the mid-00s. Some good videos for download there also.

  4. 4
    Chris Rodda

    cholten99 … The ads are automatically generated somehow based on words that come up and your previous web history, so ads for Christian stuff are going to show up because of mentions of Christianity, regardless of whether they’re in a good or a bad way.

  5. 5

    I also can’t believe the media didn’t know about this stuff. But I mainly just wanted to say that I’m really happy to have discovered your blog. Freethought blogs is off to a great start, and I’m not even seeing any ads at all! One day, I’ll even figure out why it’s showing a very bad picture of my house next to my name.

  6. 6

    I’ve followed the sad and irritating story of The SCO Group versus The World of Open Source Software, and after that I’m not surprised at the basic incompetence of main-line media. All reporters but one that I know of managed to get the story so wrong, it wasn’t even in the same universe as reality – they reflected SCO’s rose-coloured-glasses view of the universe.

    In a nutshell, SCO claimed that their [Golum]precioussss[/gollum] code was in Linux, the operating system that scares the living shit out of Microsoft. They continued to claim this despite being ordered by three courts five times to point out exactly which code was the copied code, and thereafter being estopped by one of those courts from making the claim again in Germany.

    In case anyone wants to know why I regard Senator Orren Hatch’s name with distaste, it’s because he is tied in with this Utah-based company’s attempt to put a toll booth on the Open Source software highway. Besides his legislative antics, his hatchling Brent was one of the lawyers representing SCO in its attempt to defraud the Fortune 500 of $750 per server for an operating system that is intended to cost $0.

  7. 7

    Thanks for the links Chris. I’ve spent the last four hours going from link to link reading.

    I have been surprised of the lack of Dominionist knowledge in conversations with some fellow Atheists, people who seemed to be well read and on top of the current dangers of Christianity.

    I don’t have a problem with what people do in their private lives including what gods they talk to. To state it simplistically, my life philosophy is to ignore people swinging their fist around until the fist hits my nose and then I become mightily concerned. I see the fist of Dominionism coming around to cave my head in.

  8. 8

    The funny thing is that I first heard about it several years ago on Conservepedia, by hitting the random button. It was actually a well-written piece, so I suspect it was plagiarized from Wikipedia, as so many of their articles that appear relatively well done are.

  9. 9

    I was first aware of this movement because of a Playboy article back in the late ’70s or early’80s. At that time, “the religious right” had been thoroughly trounced politically. I remember reading a several part article in Playboy in which the author was interviewing some of the “religious right” leaders.
    I remember reading that they vowed that they would make a comeback by working from the ground up. They claimed that they would be mayors and school board presidents in a few years, and then work up from there until they controlled much more in our government. It worried me, but my husband was convinced that American voters were too smart to allow that to happen. He’s changed his mind about that now.
    I wish that I knew exactly which months and year those articles appeared in Playboy. Hopefully, this will inspire someone to research this.

  10. 10
    Pierce R. Butler

    Another indispensable resource for understanding modern hyperchristians: Jeff Sharlet.

  11. 11
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    I know Americans tend to be awfully insular, but people might want to also take a look at the cross-border exportation of Christian nationalism* into Canada & Canadian politics: The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada by Marci McDonald .

    *to be fair, there’s always been some element of it here, and the whole Dominion thing? Well, our national motto is actually the biblical verse “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.” A mari usque ad mare. To be honest, I kind of like it, but only because most people here don’t see any religious significance in it.

  12. 12

    I had never heard of Dominionists or NAR until I saw the video about Sarah Palin’s witch hunter Pastor Thomas Muthee. Needless to say, it was shocking!

    I had a twitter disagreement with Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family, when he tweeted: “I’m in favor of retiring term “dominionist.” As term has almost no history within fundamentalism. Stokes fundamentalist persecution complex.”

    Part of the problem that the general public, and Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty, have never heard about Dominionism is due to the fact that many of those who have studied the extremist fundamentalist Christian movements have failed to agree on a terminology for the public to recognize. Even if some of these extremists have slightly differing positions, they need to be classified under the term “Dominionism”. Their intent is to IMPOSE their whacked-out version of Christianity upon ALL others.

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