Jan 09 2012

Christian Dominionists — Real Threat or Just a Figment of Sane People’s Imaginations?

There are Christians and then there are Dominionist Christians — the ones who think they have a biblical mandate to take dominion over the entire world for Christ. But up until recently, not too many people were familiar with the term “Dominionist,” coined by Fred Clarkson and Chip Berlet nearly two decades ago. In recent months, however, with the parade of Dominionist candidates in the GOP primary race, the term has started to make its way into the mainstream, causing the Dominionists to have to do some damage control. Some are denying that anything called Dominionism even exists; others are changing the definition of Dominionism, claiming that the word dominion is just used figuratively and doesn’t really mean that they want to control all areas of American society and eventually “reclaim” the world for Christ. And, of course, there’s been no shortage of sarcasm and tin foil hat jokes about us crazy secularists who write about the threat of dominionism in America.

So, let’s hop in the time machine and go back to a time when the Dominionists weren’t so worried about their real agenda being exposed and wrote freely about exactly what they meant by Dominionism.

There are few examples as clear as the following explanation of Dominionism provided by George Grant, formerly of D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries, in his 1987 book The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action, published by the aptly named Dominion Press. This, my friends, is what Dominionism means — not in the words of one of us tin foil hat wearing secularists, but in the words of a prominent Dominionist.

“Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ — to have dominion in the civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

“But it is dominion that we are after. Not just a voice.

“It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.

“It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.

“It is dominion we are after.

“World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less.

“If Jesus Christ is indeed Lord, as the Bible says, and if our commission is to bring the land into subjection to His Lordship, as the Bible says, then all our activities, all our witnessing, all our preaching, all our craftsmanship, all our stewardship, and all our political action will aim at nothing short of that sacred purpose.

“Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land — of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. It is to reinstitute the authority of God’s Word as supreme over all judgments, over all legislation, over all declarations, constitutions, and confederations.”

Yeah, that doesn’t sound at all like they want to take over the world and turn America into a theocracy, now does it?


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  1. 1

    Most of the Tea Party/GOP candidates are xian Dominionists.

    We are one election away from potential hell.

    There is a current effort underway among xian Dominionists to hide their agenda. Because it scares any sentient being a lot.

    But they never are very good at doing that. They can’t help but babble on about god, jesus, biblical law, and what they intend to do to the USA if they can.

    Destroy it, set up a theocracy, and head on back to the Dark Ages.

  2. 2
    The Lorax

    Ok, so they exist. So do flat earthers.

    What I’m worried about is whether they have a speck of hope in accomplishing any of this. Fringe ideologies linger and are sure a pain in the ass, but for many of them, that’s about all they amount to. They get their 15 minutes, the majority of sane people realize what they’re up to, they get shot down, and they spend the remainder of their time limping like a wounded beast, but still alive.

    So, do Dominionists really have a chance? I mean, sure, there’s always a possibility, but what is the real, down to earth, honest to goodness probability that they’ll get anywhere? Hell, they’ve been at it for nearly 25 years, and we’ve only seen the secular section grow… so which is it…?

  3. 3

    Isn’t their some kind of natural law in play here? Something about the closer wacky people come to mainstream acceptance, the deeper the holes in history they must dig to bury the embarrassments of their past.

  4. 4

    It may be that the growth and success of the secular society are forcing these nutballs to work harder and more deviously to achieve their theocratic goals. They have had several candidates in this year’s GOP race but Cain & Bachmann have dropped out. Gingrich, Perry & Santorum remain in the clown car and have varying degrees of theocratic belief. When they lose this political path to power, watch to see them arming. That will be a bad sign.

  5. 5

    Ok, so they exist. So do flat earthers.

    They have their own political party. It’s called the Tea Party/GOP. Perry, Bachmann, Palin, and Santorum are pure Dominionists. Gingrich is sympathetic. Romney probably not very much.

    Most of the fundies are xian Dominionists. That means around 20-30% of the US population. Say 60 to 90 million people. Virtually all the vaguely humanoid toad fundie leaders are Dominionists, Robertson, Falwell, Kennedy, Parsley, Hagee, Dobson and on and on.

    So, yeah, they do have a chance and it is far from zero.

    Get this. Not a single civilization (used in a loose sense) has lasted. According to Toynbee, of 22 civilizations that collapsed, 19 collapsed from internal problems.

    In my lifetime two have fallen apart, the British empire and the Soviet empire. Some day our American civilization will end. It’s guaranteed. And maybe the xian Dominionist will be wielding the axe that ends it.

    PS I knew Russian scientists who lived through the Soviet collapse. They all ended up moving to the USA after they stopped getting paid. They never saw it coming and couldn’t believe it when it happened. But stuff like this can and does happen.

  6. 6

    @ #3:

    The dominionists/fundies/t-baggers are sufficiently di m in the dome they can’t follow your simple but elegant line of reasoning; they would fall completely into the first hole dug.

  7. 7
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    This reminds me…have you read The Armageddon Factor by Marci McDonald? It’s about the rise of Dominionism (and other flavours of Christianity inserting itself into politics) in Canada. I’m sure you would find it very interesting.

    (Trivia: Did you know that Canada was actually called a Dominion based on the verse of Psalm 72:8? That’s where we get our national motto from too, though there wasn’t anything sinister about its adoption at the time.)

  8. 8

    I’m pretty convinced the Dominionists made great in roads for their side by purging the military of secular folks and demanding Christian training in the military. They purged non-Christian generals under Bush (like the DOJ attny firing scandal but less covered); the fiasco with the Air Force Academy and Stanley McCrystal feeling comfortable expressing his views.

  9. 9

    It has been xian fundy policy for some time.
    Note…not one whine has been raised by the so-called moderate churches…it is as if they are caught in the headlights.

    The moderates seem to like the direction but fear the destination, mainly because being xian means eradicating all competing religion, it is what they do….and the xian moderate church is so fragmented they are for all intents and purposes the ‘competing religion’

    Xians are not shy of smiting their own.

    The moderates do not want the Dominionist drive to stop, because there might be short term advantage for their own cult in the fall out but they know at the other end it is every cult for itself.

    After the pesky secularists and atheists are dealt with of course.

    As for ‘foreign’ religion…they will find a very different attitude to then this all inclusive ‘religion is sacrosanct’ meme…quite different indeed…xians and the shed blood of all foes are old friends!

  10. 10

    As a former youth pastor in a dominion based theology church, I can tell you that the average church member does not think on this level. A lot of the top leaders do though. Some of the top leaders even admit to having not shot at running for office themselves because of the public’s perception of their views.

    The average member is aware of the dominion based theology, and supports it from a very passive and short sighted perspective. Most of them are so focused on ending abortion and keeping their children from being infected by the “homosexual agenda”, that they sign over their political views to the church.

    Right now, most of the top Tea Party leaders are so cartoon like in their behaviors and intelligence that they will never be taken seriously by the mainstream. But there are some very intelligent people that believe firmly in the deminionism theology. They are not known very well in the mainstream, but they are the ones to fear, because they cunning enough navigate the public view until it is too late. I am still a Christian, but some of these people really worry me.

  11. 11

    I wouldn’t ever turn my back on the fundies.

    History is full of small groups that have taken over societies and destroyed them. We see it every day.

    Just a few. The Afghan Taliban. The Khmer Rouge. The Bolsheviks. The Somalia Islamicists. The Iranian Mullahs. The North Korean cult of the Kim Jongs.

    Without eternal vigilance, it can happen here.

    When I first ran into the xian Dominionists a decade ago it was:
    Huh? What!!!-slight amusement-Hey, there are more than I thought-dawning horror-plans to flee the country. It’s every plot out of every horror movie.

  12. 12

    On an organizational basis, a lot of religion is just a cover for the human drives for power, money, and sex. You can see that in the bible which is filled with ancient political battles and agendas, which is why it is so contradictory.

    The fundie leaders may babble on about family values but they really want power, money and all that comes with it.

  13. 13
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Oh, yeah. They are real, and they are trying for a theocracy.

  14. 14

    The sad thing is that a majority of those in the church really do just want to worship God and have a place to help center their morals. But they are constantly being roped in by people who’s egos grow exponentially as their following grows. A majority of ministers work are bi-vocational, working 40 hour weeks at a paying job and then working full time in the church as well. Most are normal people who just want to care for those around them in the best way they know how. But they are overshadowed by these egomaniacs who are out to grow their personal empire, and it is really sad and scary at the same time.

    When I was in ministry, I worked 40+ hours a week, went to school part time, and put in 20+ hours a week at the church as a Youth Pastor. All this while trying to maintain a marriage and start a family. I eventually left the church because I was tired of the political games and I didn’t want to be another minister who lost their family because they put ministry over their family.

  15. 15
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    What I’m worried about is whether they have a speck of hope in accomplishing any of this.

    I dunno. I thought they’d been doing a bang-up job since WWII, at least.

  16. 16

    Chris: you took that block quote out of context. i am sure it is just a metaphor.

    (end sarcasm)

  17. 17

    I am always amazed at how many deny the existence of this bible-based cult. Extremism breeds everywhere and to think for a moment that we Americans would magically escape that is naive and dangerous.

    Yes, they do exist and they are masterful at functioning in stealth mode, which when pierced they implement a practice called “condemn and rebrand” whenever we shed too much light on them.

    They absolutely do have influence – holding positions from School Boards to Congress and all points in between. They re-write history and perpetuate pre-Enlightment anti-modernity dogma. The even re-write their own Bibles when they are deemed “too liberal”.

    The Dominionists are to mainstream Christians what Islamic Fundamentalists are to the world Muslim population. They are extremists – and as long as we pay attention we can avoid the threat of theocracy becoming a reality on our soil.

    Thank you, Chris for posting this. Acknowledging they do exist is half the battle and having people take them (and us) seriously and voting to ensure that they do not gain power is the uphill battle that you and I fight daily.

  18. 18

    As a former youth pastor in a dominion based theology church, I can tell you that the average church member does not think on this level. A lot of the top leaders do though. Some of the top leaders even admit to having not shot at running for office themselves because of the public’s perception of their views.

    And that’s the problem.

    Your very theology teaches people to be sheep who follow their church leaders, and where the church leaders go, the sheep tend to go along.

    That’s what frightens us. Too many people will go where these monsters decide to take them.

  19. 19
    Paul Gnuman

    I don’t take the threat to our freedom from these people lightly at all. They’ve infiltrated our government and armed forces at the highest levels, they have huge amounts of cash at their disposal, and an oblivious or complicit media and populous. We are hanging by the thread of the Constitution, and relying there on a court stacked with theocrats too.

    It’s also worth bearing in mind that Hillary Clinton is a long-time dominionist, too, at least according to Christopher Hitchens. And now we are hearing talk that Hillary should replace Biden on the ticket this fall.

    This is why, apart from the fact that I’m convinced there is no way it can’t be correct, that I am trying to raise awareness that Christianity has a profound weakness, discovered by Joseph Atwill, that ought to be exploited by all those who want to see it ended. That weakness is that there is clear evidence that it is not only a cynical invention, but that its Roman authors wanted posterity to appreciate their feat, and so structured its literature so that an informed reader would see it as a cruel lampoon of the militant messianic Judaism it was invented to supplant.

    Please look into it. You can browse the website, listen to a radio show Sunday evenings, buy a kindle book, read customer reviews of the first edition on amazon. Thanks.


  20. 20
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    I find it difficult to believe Hillary Clinton is a Dominionist, given her excellent speech to the UN.

  21. 21
    Paul Gnuman

    (This is still biggusdickus, but I’m changing my nom-de-web in case not everybody gets the joke of the other one. Hey: it’s a fine Roman name.)

    I wasn’t able to find the article I remember mentioning this by Hitchens, but I may be remembering that association without basis. Certainly Christopher had plenty negative to say about ole Hil, though. But, this is the same gist. Also there is a Mother Jones article mentioned I’ll look for …


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  23. 23
    Paul Gnuman

    sorry, didn’t mean to imbed that

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