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  • Saturday, April 23, 2005



    [Update: There are now two other posts to this subject: Dominionism, Part 2 and Part 3. I may eventually combine all three of these posts into one under this post title.]

    Through a reference on Shakespeare's Sister, I was moved to do a little research on Dominionism. It's a theological/political movement sure to give me nightmares tonight. I'd heard of it before, perhaps sometime in the 1990s, but I don't think I'd seen much else until today. I first went to the reference, a lengthy and well footnoted article named The Despoiling of America: How George W. Bush became the head of the new American Dominionist Church/State by Katherine Yurica. Here's a sample:
    It is estimated that thirty-five million Americans who call themselves Christian, adhere to Dominionism in the United States, but most of these people appear to be ignorant of the heretical nature of their beliefs and the seditious nature of their political goals. So successfully have the televangelists and churches inculcated the idea of the existence of an outside “enemy,” which is attacking Christianity, that millions of people have perceived themselves rightfully overthrowing an imaginary evil anti-Christian conspiratorial secular society.

    Born in Christian Reconstructionism, which was founded by the late R. J. Rushdoony, the framers of the new cult included Rushdoony, his son-in-law Gary North, Pat Robertson, Herb Titus, the former Dean of Robertson’s Regent University School of Public Policy (formerly CBN University), Charles Colson, Robertson’s political strategist, Tim LaHaye, Gary Bauer, the late Francis Schaeffer, and Paul Crouch, the founder of TBN, the world’s largest television network, plus a virtual army of likeminded television and radio evangelists and news talk show hosts.

    Dominionism started with the Gospels and turned the concept of the invisible and spiritual “Kingdom of God” into a literal political empire that could be taken by force, starting with the United States of America. Discarding the original message of Jesus and forgetting that Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” the framers of Dominionism boldly presented a Gospel whose purpose was to inspire Christians to enter politics and execute world domination so that Jesus could return to an earth prepared for his earthly rule by his faithful “regents.”

    Sweet people doing tha Lawd's work. Here's another quote from Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence by Frederick Clarkson from 1994. It sounds very much like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. (As noted in the quote above, Dominionism is an offshoot of Reconstructionism.)
    Epitomizing the Reconstructionist idea of Biblical "warfare" is the centrality of capital punishment under Biblical Law. Doctrinal leaders (notably Rushdoony, North, and Bahnsen) call for the death penalty for a wide range of crimes in addition to such contemporary capital crimes as rape, kidnapping, and murder. Death is also the punishment for apostasy (abandonment of the faith), heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, "sodomy or homosexuality," incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and, in the case of women, "unchastity before marriage."

    According to Gary North, women who have abortions should be publicly executed, "along with those who advised them to abort their children." Rushdoony concludes: "God's government prevails, and His alternatives are clear-cut: either men and nations obey His laws, or God invokes the death penalty against them." Reconstructionists insist that "the death penalty is the maximum, not necessarily the mandatory penalty." However, such judgments may depend less on Biblical Principles than on which faction gains power in the theocratic republic. The potential for bloodthirsty episodes on the order of the Salem witchcraft trials or the Spanish Inquisition is inadvertently revealed by Reconstructionist theologian Rev. Ray Sutton, who claims that the Reconstructed Biblical theocracies would be "happy" places, to which people would flock because "capital punishment is one of the best evangelistic tools of a society."

    I don't know about you, but in these quotes I hear strong echoes of arguments and perspectives offered by conservatives in the media every day. It's rarely stated as strongly as above but still there. I'm a firm believer in throwing light and attention on movements like this. Unattended, this sort of philosophy festers, grows evil tendrils into the fabric of society and establishes itself as an acceptable approach to social and political issues. I've heard it said that some of the worst atrocities in history were carried out in the name of religion. I know I see visions of autos-da-fé dancing horribly in my mind's eye. I'm generally not prone to shrill imprecations. I don't use the word "evil" lightly, usually reserving it for genocide or true sociopaths. This stuff strikes me as evil.

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