Un-American And Heretical
David Neiwert writes that Andrew Sullivan has decided to call the religious right "Christianists" rather than Christians. And David points out that although Sullivan didn't acknowledge it, Tristero coined that name over three years ago. Although, the term "Christianists" is a reasonable term, there is another term for these people that is even better: "Dominionist". David notes that the problem with the term "Dominionist" is that most people don't know what it means. Nevertheless, it is an incredibly concise and precise name for the brand of politics mixed with religion these far-right preachers are preaching.
One of the advantages of using the term "Dominionism" is that it exposes both the frankly Un-American taint and the heretical aspect of this philosophy. And it is a name that some of the most prominent right-wing preachers claim proudly.
What is Dominionism?
Michelle Goldberg recently wrote a book about the Dominionists or Christian nationalists. Here's her take on what they want:
Christian nationalists believe in a revisionist history, which holds that the founders were devout Christians who never intended to create a secular republic; separation of church and state, according to this history, is a fraud perpetrated by God-hating subversives. One of the foremost Christian revisionist historians is David Barton, who , in addition to running an organization called Wallbuilders that disseminates Christian nationalist books, tracts and videos, is also the vice-chairman of the Texas Republican Party. The goal of Christian nationalist politics is the restoration of the imagined Christian nation. As George Grant, former executive director of D. James Kennedy's influential Coral Ridge Ministries, wrote in his book "The Changing of the Guard:"
"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.
... The iconography of Christian nationalism conflates the cross and the flag. As I write in "Kingdom Coming," it "claims supernatural sanction for its campaign of national renewal and speaks rapturously about vanquishing the millions of Americans who would stand in its way." At one rally at the statehouse in Austin, Texas, a banner pictured a fierce eagle perched upon a bloody cross. For a liberal, such imagery smacks of fascist agitprop. But plenty of deeply committed Christians also object to it as a form of blasphemy. It's important, I think, to separate their faith from the authoritarian impulses of the Christian nationalist movement. Christianity is a religion. Christian nationalism is a political program, and there is nothing sacred about it.
This philosophy is obviously un-American because it seeks to pervert and overthrow the Constitution which enshrined in the first amendment separation of religion and state. And it is patently heretical because it claims to be Christian while it espouses values that are antithetical to Christ's teachings.
Paster Ted Haggard, one of the leading evangelical ministers of one of the country's largest churches, advocates muscular war against Islam:
"My fear," he says, "is that my children will grow up in an Islamic state."
And that is why he believes spiritual war requires a virile, worldly counterpart. "I teach a strong ideology of the use of power," he says, "of military might, as a public service." He is for preemptive war, because he believes the Bible's exhortations against sin set for us a preemptive paradigm, and he is for ferocious war, because "the Bible's bloody. There's a lot about blood."
Note how in these statements, Paster Ted betrays both our Constitution and the preachings of Christ.
Dominionism is a dangerous and totalitarian philosophy. We need to recognize its danger to our religious and political institutions. And Christians need to educate and agitate against these people who claim to speak for them, because they repudiate the words and meaning of Christ. Although they claim to promote the culture of life, too many glorify death and advocate war in their quest to bring about Dominion.