Well, anything other than neo-Raymondists lying not only about what their intentions are but what they’ve actually said in furtherance of their intentions….
Corporatist Beltway shlockmeister rag, the Washington Post – believe it or not, the paper that 40 years ago not only was ‘paranoid’ enough to believe that a Republican president was running a criminal operation out of the White House but was uppity enough to demonstrate it for Howdy Doody America – allowed one of its columnists, Lisa Miller, to lie through her teeth recently to claim that stories about the dominionism philosophy of the right-wing republican presidential wannabes are nothing but left-wing paranoia.
Miller links to recent in-depth articles from the Texas Observer, The New Yorker, and The Daily Beast, but doesn’t really engage substantively with any of their reporting. Instead, Miller gives a pro forma acknowledgment that the stories “raise real concerns” about candidates’ worldviews while portraying the articles broadly as evidence of unfair attacks on evangelicals from a hysterical anti-Christian “left.” She calls dominionism “the paranoid mot du jour.”
That’s from Peter Montgomery’s response in Religion Dispatches.
It may be the “word of the day,” as journalists continue to educate themselves and their readers on this particular strand of thinking, but that doesn’t mean an investigation of the role of “dominionism” in religious right rhetoric and strategy is a paranoid project. (The urge to investigate, or to interpret, can be too easily dismissed as paranoid. But if not for such “paranoia,” what exactly would the role of journalists be?)
So, as background: dominionism refers to a theological tenet at the core of the religious right movement—that Christians are meant to exercise dominion over the earth. As RD readers know, dominionist thought is not a new phenomenon. It may be true, as evangelical leader Mark DeMoss says in Miller’s story, that “you would be hard-pressed to find one in 1,000 Christians in America would could even wager a guess at what dominionism is.” But it’s certainly not true of the leaders of the religious right political movement. Their followers are hearing dominionist teaching whether they know it or not.
In recent years, there has been a very visible embrace by traditional religious right leaders of the rhetoric of “Seven Mountains,” a framework created by former Campus Crusade for Christ director Bill Bright. It puts dominionist thinking in clear, user-friendly lay language. The “Seven Mountains” of culture over which the right kind of Christians are meant to have dominion are business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family, and religion. (Some folks rearrange the categories a bit to explicitly include the military.)
C. Peter Wagner is the founder of the New Apostolic Reformation and author of Dominion!: How Kingdom Action Can Change the World. His official bio says “In the 2000s, he began to move strongly in promoting the Dominion Mandate for social transformation, adopting the template of the Seven Mountains or the 7-M Mandate for practical implementation.” Wagner was an endorser of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s prayer-rally-cum-presidential launch and dozens of members of the New Apostolic Reformation were involved in organizing and speaking at the event.
Can you hear the dominionism now?
Miller seems unfamiliar with, or uninterested in, the extent to which dominionist and reconstructionist thinking is reflected in the worldview of Michele Bachmann. (Miller says Pat Robertson, who ran for the presidency in 1988, was a dominionist; implying that that Bachmann and other contemporaries are self-evidently not). It is not some kind of guilt-by-association stretch to ask what it means that Bachmann describes Christian Reconstructionist John Eidsmoe as a mentor and major influence on her thinking. Neither is it surprising that Rick Perry’s political prayer rally would bring greater attention to the extremist nature of the event’s sponsors and speakers, which has been extensively documented.
Dominionist thinking within the religious right has real-world consequences that justify concern. In the online discussion of her article, Miller wrote that she didn’t see much difference between Jerry Falwell creating Liberty University to train evangelical Christians to be active citizens and a Mormon sending her kid to BYU or a Catholic sending her kid to Georgetown.
But there is a difference. Maybe Miller should read Sarah Posner’s recent article for RD on the approach to law that presidential candidate Michele Bachmann studied at the precursor to Robertson’s Regent University law school, or her exposé on the approach currently taught students at Liberty’s law school. For example, students in one recent Liberty class were asked an exam question about a case in which Liberty Counsel lawyers were currently involved regarding a woman had renounced her homosexuality and was refusing to honor courts’ custody orders regarding a child she had with a former partner. The exam asked whether students, as Christian lawyers, would advise the woman to honor the court orders, or defy “man’s law” in order to follow “God’s law.” Students who said they would advise her to obey court orders got bad grades. Also, in the real world, Liberty Counsel’s client fled the country with the child in defiance of multiple court orders and has become a folk hero to many in the religious right.
Liberty’s goal is to fill state and federal judgeships and legislatures with people who embrace this view of the law; people like Michele Bachmann.
How about now?