Blog Against Theocracy: Dominionism Is Destroying Our Society
Nothing I’m about to tell you should be news to anyone.
First, let’s consider the following story.
Uncovering kids: 89,000 poor Pa. kids slashed from Medicaid
KHELI Muhammad was trying to schedule a routine pediatrician’s appointment last summer when she discovered that her 2-year-old son, who has a congenital heart disorder, had been kicked off the Medicaid rolls.
The 30-year-old mother of two boys was stunned.
“It is written in stone that he’s covered,” Muhammad said of Samad, who qualifies for Medicaid based on his serious medical condition, not the family’s income level. “He’s pacemaker-dependent . . . [H]is heart will not beat without a pacemaker.”
But the heartbeat of the fragile little Samad was clearly not a priority for welfare officials, who informed Muhammad that she had failed to renew his benefits – even though she said she had not received renewal paperwork in the mail – and that she’d have to reapply.
Now, where does this disregard for human dignity come from? When did we decide that saving a nickel of public money to fund tax breaks for the wealthy was worth more than human life?
Oh that’s right, in 1980. The year Ronald Reagan was elected on a tidal wave of theocratic zealotry and racism embodied in the christian conservative movement.
It began with Nixon in 1968 with his “Southern Strategy” to recruit millions of pissed-off Dixiecrats and other southern racists who were disaffected by the Democratic party’s embrace of the Civil Rights movement. This new coalition saved the GOP from another presidential loss and returned conservative government to Washington. We all know how that turned out.
Then in 1973 and 74, there were two Supreme Court rulings that began a fire-storm. The first of course was Roe vs. Wade. The second, Bob Jones University v. United States, is not as well-known but equally disturbing to christian conservatives. The ruling stated that the religion clauses of the First Amendment did not prohibit the IRS from revoking the tax exempt status of a religious university whose practices were contrary to government public policy, such as racial discrimination. In this case, Bob Jones University had a policy that excluded “admission to applicants engaged in an interracial marriage or known to advocate interracial marriage or dating.”
This ruling had far-reaching implications for conservative christian institutions that had always used the First Amendment to excuse their bigotry, and it still does today. Get into an argument about gay marriage with any christian conservative and you’ll get an earful about the government forcing them to allow gays into their churches and schools. It is the same argument that they made against interracial marriage.
These two rulings against the authoritarian right, coupled with the deep resentment many of them felt for President Jimmy Carter, a self-proclaimed evangelical who refused to tow the christian conservative line on abortion, set the stage for the formation of two highly influential, and very well-funded political action groups. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family in 1977 and Jerry Falwell’s The Moral Majority in 1979.
In 1980 the newly organized and well-funded christian conservatives put all of their time and energy toward electing Ronald Reagan, who appointed the Moral Majority’s first executive director, Robert Billings, as a religious adviser to his campaign and later to a position at the Dept. of Education.
In his first public address after the 1980 GOP convention, Reagan traveled to a small town in Mississippi to deliver what would come to be known as “The State’s Rights Speech”.
I believe that there are programs like that, programs like education and others, that should be turned back to the states and the local communities with the tax sources to fund them, and let the people [applause drowns out end of statement].
I believe in state’s rights; I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the constitution to that federal establishment. And if I do get the job I’m looking for, I’m going to devote myself to trying to reorder those priorities and to restore to the states and local communities those functions which properly belong there.
— Ronald Reagan, Neshoba County Fair
Philadelphia, Mississippi, Aug. 3, 1980
And thus was born the Modern Conservative Governing Philosophy of “strangle the government to hurt brown people” as described by Lee Atwater.
“You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.””
– Lee Atwater, 1981
So why Philadelphia Mississippi? Perhaps it had something to do with the lynching of three civil rights workers in 1964.
The dog whistles are deafening.
As is the cognitive dissonance.
You see, christian conservatives are not small government conservatives. At all. They like to dress up their authoritarian worldview in pretty language about a “limited federal government”, but they’re fighting tooth and nail for a dictatorial state government that interferes in your masturbatory habits. Or your choice of marriage partner. Or your access to a constitutionally protected medical procedure. Or your right to vote. Or your right not to be bought and sold like cattle and forced to work on a plantation.
Hence all the “state’s rights” bullshit for the last 150 years.
So why recap all of this? Because christian conservatives are no longer the useful idiots that the brain caste of the GOP can poke and prod with social issues and race baiting during election years and then continue to ignore. They are the GOP now. And they are becoming increasingly dangerous to our “civil” society.
Behold the face of the new christian conservative movement…
An emerging Christian movement that seeks to take dominion over politics, business and culture in preparation for the end times and the return of Jesus, is becoming more of a presence in American politics. The leaders are considered apostles and prophets, gifted by God for this role.
The international “apostolic and prophetic” movement has been dubbed by its leading American architect, C. Peter Wagner, as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Although the movement is larger than the network organized by Wagner — and not all members describe themselves as part of Wagner’s NAR — the so-called apostles and prophets of the movement have identifiable ideology that separates them from other evangelicals.
Tabachnick says the movement currently works with a variety of politicians and has a presence in all 50 states. It also has very strong opinions about the direction it wants the country to take. For the past several years, she says, the NAR has run a campaign to reclaim what it calls the “seven mountains of culture” from demonic influence. The “mountains” are arts and entertainment; business; family; government; media; religion; and education.
“They teach quite literally that these ‘mountains’ have fallen under the control of demonic influences in society,” says Tabachnick. “And therefore, they must reclaim them for God in order to bring about the kingdom of God on Earth. … The apostles teach what’s called ‘strategic level spiritual warfare’ [because they believe that the] reason why there is sin and corruption and poverty on the Earth is because the Earth is controlled by a hierarchy of demons under the authority of Satan. So they teach not just evangelizing souls one by one, as we’re accustomed to hearing about. They teach that they will go into a geographic region or a people group and conduct spiritual-warfare activities in order to remove the demons from the entire population. This is what they’re doing that’s quite fundamentally different than other evangelical groups.”
Go listen to the entire interview with Rachel Tabachnick from Talk To Action. It’s as scary as it is fascinating.
She also has a treasure trove of information on the movement at the Talk to Action website.
C. Peter Wagner
Wagner was the Convening Apostles of the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA), Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, Wagner Leadership Institute, and other New Apostolic Reformation entities. Now an octogenarian, Wagner has passed many of his leadership positions to other apostles.
Wagner explains the meaning of “dominion.”
Now of course these people do not represent the entire christian conservative movement, but the idea of Dominionism is nearly universal among all evangelical religions in one form or another. Even Mormons believe they are the chosen people destined to be rulers.
So what happens when a large swath of the voting public believes they are chosen by God to rule over everyone else? What happens when these people are backed by nearly unlimited amounts of money from billionaires?
Just take a look at the current GOP primary. Look at the state legislatures that have passed dozens of anti-worker, anti-woman, and anti-minority laws over the past two years. Take a gander at our do-nothing congress that can’t pass anything but forced-birth bills and Ayn Rand inspired budgets.
It’s no surprise that our government doesn’t function when we have people in charge who want only to destroy it.
It’s also no surprise that most of these organizations are headquartered or originated in the south. There is a neo-confederate streak a mile wide among dominionist christians.
North’s writing explains the theocratic libertarianism of Christian Reconstructionism, a Dominionist movement which would dramatically reduce the federal government and control society through enforcement of biblical law at the local and state levels. Theocratic libertarianism has become a foundational philosophy for some of the Religious Right, but it is also surprisingly seductive to Tea Partiers and young people, some of whom may not fully understand what is supposed to happen after the federal government is stripped of its regulatory powers.
Following are quotes by Gary North in from the 1980s when he was part of a core group of Christian Reconstructionists in Tyler, Texas building the movement. North stated in the introduction to his 1989 book Myth of Pluralism,
“I am trying to lay the biblical foundations of an alternative society to humanism’s present social order.”
So now we find ourselves in a dangerous place. We have over a third of the country that holds some or all of these beliefs, and they’re very politically active. They’re putting true believers into office at the state and federal level that are intent on damaging our system of government and undoing over 100 years of social progress. And we now have presidential candidates who want to repeal child labor laws, and openly talk about secession, and propose destroying medicare and social security.
This is an existential problem.
We cannot and will not answer the growing threat of climate change while a third of our population refuses to believe in basic principles of science. We cannot and will not solve the plague of poverty in this country while a third of our population believe that it’s God’s will for people to be poor. We cannot and will not progress towards bringing peace to this world while a third of our population is anxiously awaiting armageddon, or actively working to make it happen. We cannot and will not meet the incredible challenges of the 21st century when our government is held hostage by those who wish to cripple or destroy it. This is deadly serious.
William Tecumseh Sherman had it right unfortunately:
“We cannot change the hearts of these people of the south, but we can make war so terrible, and make them so sick of war that generations will pass away before they again appeal to it.”
And it seems now the proper number of generations have passed away, but this time instead of cannon and rifles, they want to destroy the government from within.
That’s not hyperbole. They really want to destroy the federal government and end all of the regulations that have protected the rights and lives of minorities, women, and children for the last century. For freedom, or whatever.
So when a two-year old child with a pacemaker is thrown off of government disability by a teabagger governor, keep in mind where this cold detachment and disregard for life comes from. It begins with the idea that white, male, conservative christians are ordained by God to have dominion over everyone else, and anyone who doesn’t like it will be marginalized, subjugated, and punished. Because that’s what dominion really means, and it’s destroying our society.