Monday, June 19, 2006

Dominionists on the Rise

As I noted in a previous post, I have been reading a couple of books dealing with the rise of christian nationalism. In my own slow, plodding manner, I finally finished them. The books are instructive.

The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us by Rabbi James Rudin and Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg cover much the same ground and are generally mutually supportive.

Both books take a detailed look at the evolution and level of success of the efforts of the christian right to usurp the United States government, trash the constitution and establish a christian theocracy in its stead.

While such a turn of events may seem outlandish to many, it is made clear in these books that there are a number of people and organizations dedicated to just such a goal.

This particular effort has its roots in a response against the hippie, anti-war, movement of the 1960s and 1970s with the establishment of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority. Out of that rose Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition and his television show which endures today, The 700 Club, telecast via his Christian Broadcasting Network. The movement is now largely decentralized and multi-faceted.

Today, there are dozens of groups and organizations which are in whole or in part dedicated to christian dominionism - that is to say the establishment of a christian theocracy in the US. A partial list includes the Alliance Defense Fund, The Centers for: . . . Christian Statesmanship, . . . Reclaiming America, . . . Science and Culture, Citizens for Community Values, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, The Heritage Foundation, Institution for Creation Research, The John Birch Society, Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Reconstruction, The Liberty Council, Medical Institute for Sexual Health, National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, People for the American Way, Traditional Values Coalition.

Names of those involved to various extents include pretty much the entire Bush Administration, Howard Ahmanson, Dick Armey, David Barton, Pat Buchanan, Kirk Cameron, Charles Colson, Tom DeLay, James Dobson, Michael Farris, Bill Frist, David Gibbs, Newt Gingrich, Ken Ham, Carl Jarboe, Phillip Johnson, D. James Kennedy, Tim & Beverly LaHaye, David Limbaugh, Zell Miller, Marvin Olasky, Rod Parsley, Tony Perkins, Howard Phillips, Rousas Rushdoony, Rick Santorum, Antonin Scalia, Phyllis Schlafly, Kenneth Starr, Pam Stenzel, Leslee Unruh, Jim Wallis, Donald Wildmon, and about 87% of the state of Texas.

Some of these organizations and individuals are familiar, some not. Most are revered by their respective adherents. Many of the individuals hold positions of power at the federal level. Virtually all of the above are working toward the establishment of a christian theocracy in this country governed not by the American Constitution, but rather by biblical law. They have focussed their efforts primarily at a grass roots level beginning at the pulpit and extending outwards making significant inroads in government at all levels, schools, the workplace and the media among others.

They target as "the enemy" liberals, democrats, feminists, free choicers, socialists, lesbians and homosexuals. Such folk are demonized as minions of the devil. They use the "you are either for us or your against us" means to con their target audience. You either agree with them fully, or you are against them. If you are against them, you are against christ, and christ doesn't like that. It makes him surly.

To date, the net result of these efforts is the greatest polarizaion this country has ever seen. Barack Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois, noted in a recent interview that Congress is truly divided. There is no camaraderie on or off the Senate and House floors. The lefties run with the lefties, the righties with the righties. Never the twain shall meet. That is symptomatic of what's happening throughout the country.

Literally thousands of people have migrated away from traditional churches to "mega-churches" which have popped up like weeds throughout the country over the last several years. These churches don't put on traditional services or masses, but mount full blown theatrical productions designed to first dazzle, then mesmerize their respective congregations until they willingly and wholeheatedly accept whatever the bible wielding evangelists tell them like exhausted and grateful sheep. And the flocks are being told who the enemy is, what their transgressions are, and for whom to vote.

John Kerry's people scoured the state of Ohio in the days leading up to the last presidential election drumming up votes believing they had out-hustled the oppostion. They believed that the Bush people had dropped the ball in Ohio because they saw few of them out knocking on doors or hitting the phones. What the Dems didn't realize was that Carl Rove targeted the churches. Their message was delivered through the pulpit.

But where is this leading us? Do we really want the Constitution usurped by the bible? I grew up believing that the US was the most forward thinking and enlightened country in the world. And it was in the years after WWII and even, I believe, until the late 1970s or early 80s. The growth of right wing fundamentalism and its concomitant war against science, technology and the media among others, has gained a great deal of traction over the last several years. We are no longer a forward thinking country. Rather, many people harken back to some notion of "the good old days," generally a time which never existed. There was never a time which was particularly "good" when compared to any other. Usually, most of us look back on our own youth as "the good old days."

Western Europe and Asia are much more dedicated to science and technology while millions in the US are sitting back and waiting to be whisked away to paradise in "The Rapture," believing that the future of earth is of no particular concern as it will be left to the dammed. This is all such dreck.

Anyone who is currently caught between their faith in god and their belief in this country may well have to make a critical choice. Do you buy into the hype being spewed about by evangelists and right wing politicians that the the separation of church and state is a myth, that we should all be first and foremost subject to god's law, that the christian bible is the only legitimate source of morality and wisdom, or do you come down on the side of those who believe that such separation is crucial to the very life of our democracy, that the Constitution is and should be the law of the land? It may well come to a pass wherein you will not be able to have both. You're either for us, or your against us! Which "us" are you a part of?

I can only urge you to read these books. I won't tell you that all their claims are accurate. They ain't gospel. But both books were well researched and intelligently written. They certainly serve to alert us to the rising smoke. And, where there's smoke . . .

TLS



18 comments:

jazzycat said...

Terry,
No doubt the political right is becoming more organized.

Do you realize that everything your post reports about the right, is just as true about the left. I could give you a whole list of left organizations including religious left organizations.

No doubt we have seen alarming polarization, but to blame it on the religious and political right is to ignore the left. After all it was the left that invented political activism. The right is just responding in kind.

You listed James Kennedy on that list. He is a preacher in my denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. A denomination that does not get involved with politics at all. We broke away from the Presbyterian Church USA, a liberal church that is very involved with liberal causes and politics. This is one small fact that I am aware of that you may want to think about or possibly even check these two Presbyterian denominations out yourself. One is liberal and active in liberalism. One is conservative and concentrates on religion.

Take care and remember brother we do agree on a few things....

Jazzycat

jazzycat said...

Terry,
Check out these very liberal 'Christian' sites...
http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm

http://www.christianalliance.org/site/c.bnKIIQNtEoG/b.592941/k.CB7C/Home.htm

You do not hear much about the religious left because they are politically correct, but they are there. The liberal USA Presbyterian Chruch is much larger
than our PCA.

Jazzy

noell said...

Terry, it's nice to see you up and running again. And an excellent return it was! Great post. This is a subject I need to look into.

Jazzycat, I don't have time right now to look into your links, but I wonder about your examples of the liberal religious left. Are they trying to reinstate Bible study in schools? Are they tearing down the wall between church and state? It's not as much the political activism that I'm worried about as much as it is the corruption of the constitution and the push to drown us all in religion.

Not to say that you're wrong about the left. I'm an independent for a reason. But it seems the religious right is a much more dangerous group.

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jazzycat said...

My point is that many religious people are regular ole liberal democrat thinking people and are no threat to your liberty from the right.... They are a very real threat from the liberal perspective of a big government left..... More taxes, more control and regulation of your life, more failed policy of appeasement with terrorists, etc.

Even a large number of conservative Christians like myself do not want any part of mega churches, 700 Club, Jerry Falwell or political activism. Politics is quite simply never mentioned in my church other than to pray for all of our leaders. This does not mean we do not have every right to participate in politics as any other citizen.

An organization like 'Renewing America' is not part of a church. It is a separate entity seeking political objectives, nearly all of which would ehance not restrict freedom.

Check it out and check out what those religious left groups are seeking.

It amazes me that Kerry can have a political rally in a liberal church and the media does not notice and Bush can merely mention God and they go beserk. Could bias be what is at play here?

jazzycat

Terry S said...

Jazzy,

I was disturbed that I might have been over-zealous in my list of names and included James Kennedy in error.

I went back to my source, "Kingdom Coming" only to discover that the Rev. Kennedy is hi-lited as one of the major players in the Constitutional Reconstruction effort.

D. James Kennedy, through his Coral Ridge Ministries "is one of the country's most important popularizers of dominon theology." He heads up the lobbying group, "Center fo Reclaiming America" and also the "Center for Christian Statesmanship" "which is devoted to evangelizing people on Capitol Hill."

In his book, "Character and Destiny: A Nation in Search of Its Soul," Kennedy declares that "the foundations of our country lay not in the Constitution, but in the New England theocracies of the 1600s."

Further, one George Grant, a former executive director of Coral Ridge Ministries, in his book "The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action wrote as follows:

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

But it is dominion 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. . .

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."


That's pretty much out there, if you ask me.

I, too, am puzzled by just what leftist organizations you are referring to? And what you belive is their agenda? While I know there are wackos on the far left, the most espousing liberal politics and culture are devoted to maintaining personal freedoms which are not governed or restricted by any particular religious dogma. The establishment of a christian theocracy would preclude that possibility.
(In an aside - its interesting that leftist democrats are always branded as "tax and spend liberals." Looking at the current monstrous budget deficit it seems that Mr. Bush does a great deal of "spending" without the benefit of "taxation.")


Jazzy, you are, it would appear, representative of what one might call the "conservative maintream."
But the 2 books referred to herein make it clear that it is NOT the "mainstream" - conservative or liberal christian - being considered.

As I have stated, it is my experience that most people, whether conservative or liberal in their politics, would consider themselves as religiously "mainstream," and not welcoming of politicking, from the pulpit. But there has been a significant shift. Both the books note that "mainstream" congregations are dwindling while the more politicized evangelical churches are growing - especially the mega-churches.

Rev. Kennedy is quoted as saying in one of his sermons: "Evolution is the most destructive idea that has ever entered the mind of man--inspired communism, and is thus responsible for 135 million deaths."

Say what?

There are other references to the Rev. Kennedy. At a meeting of Christian conservative leaders in February of 2005 Kennedy is quoted as saying in an address to this group:

"As the vice regents of God, we are to bring His truth and His will to bear on every sphere of our world and our society. We are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government. . . our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors--in short, over every aspect and institution of human society."

That's not too vague, either.

While, obviously, I have little use for religion or god, it is not religion or a belief in god that I take issue with here.

It is the fact that there are a significant number of people, now powerful and influential people, who are bent on claiming this country for christ.

That is not the country I grew up in. I firmly believe in the separation of church and state. If you and hundreds of millions of other citizens choose to worship god, any god -- fine. You are free to do so. I choose not to. If I find myself living or likely to be living in a Christian/American theocracy, it will no longer be my country.

TLS

Menopausal Agnostic said...

Terry,

Thank you for pointing me to your article. It is good to see you back writing. I appreciate the research you've done here & the follow-up on Kennedy. Very interesting information.

jazzycat said...

Terry,
That was a lot you put the plate. One quick point on Kennedy. He and I are in the same Presbyterian denomination (PCA). I can assure you that the Biblical gospel I believe and he believes does not hold any view that government should force Christianity on people. Our doctrinal beliefs do not hold any chance of this even being possible. Got to go watch a little tv with my wife. I will respond a little more in a bit.

Jazzycat

jazzycat said...

Terry,
I think there is a culture war going on in this country and also a political war going on. It seems that the advocates of maximum freedom in the culture war are the very ones that are for more government control and involvement in the political war. Conversely, those that are for less government control and involvement in political matters are for more restrictions in cultural matters.

We have debated some of the issues in our early days with one another so there is no need to now. I think both of the sides could use a little more tolerance.

Christians have as much right to form activist organizations as anyone else. Beside the two liberal ones I have already mentioned, There is also the following: NOW, NAACP, ACLU, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Alliance for Justice, People for the American Way, Concerned women for America, to name a few.

Some of the issues that social conservatives would like to address are: Abortion, pornography, drug abuse, gambling, crime, etc. I will concede that the restrictions sought would decrease freedom. There would be an upside to these restrictions, but also a danger of going too far. These problems are taking a huge toll on American society.

Jazzycat

Terry S said...

Jazzy,

I checked out those 2 liberal christian sites. I'm a little confused, though. Are these sites of which you approve, or do you find them too far to the left?

Just curious.

TLS

Terry S said...

Jazzy,

There are activist organizations of all kinds, regarding every side of every contentious issue facing us in the world today. And, yes, all people have the right to organize and/or take part in any of them - in this country, at least.

Nevertheless, I find it disturbing that there exists today such a concerted effort to suspend our democratic system in favor of a christian theocracy. In the past when it was believed that communism was a threat to our republic, a witch hunt ensued, and the world was thrust into the Cold War. I find the movement toward christian dominion no less disturbing.

You have scoffed at the notion, and, frankly, I hope you are right. I hope that it has all been overstated or misinterpreted. But some of the statements I quoted in previous comments, and many other statements and actions of a number of the groups and individuals noted in the books I have reported on in conjunction with their position and/or influence in and over high levels of government, business, education, the media, etc. give me pause. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.)

I have pretty much always been proud to be an American - of what this country has stood for. I can't help but believe that much, if not all, of what makes the US unique in the world as a beacon of democracy and enlightenment would be lost. The US Constitution may well be the greatest single political document ever created by man. That it could be usurped by the imposition of a christian theocracy sends chills up my spine. The opportunity for suppression, abuse, AND overwhelming government control of virtually every aspect of our lives under such a system would be tremendous. That is totally alien to both the spirit and the letter of our Constitution. I find that far more frightening than the prospect of government health care.

TLS

jazzycat said...

Terry,
Liberal CHRISTIANITY does not believe anything like me. It started in the 19th century. They are closer to you than to me....

jazzycat

Terry S said...

Thought so.

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