Religion is inserted into politics not to appease the gods…but to appease the religious. That’s what’s behind the “Dominionism” of three leading Republican-Tea Party presidential hopefuls---and the desperate efforts of Republicans to have the public overlook the religious fanaticism of their front-runners as “irrelevant.”
FIRST, WHAT IS “DOMINIONISM?”
According to Wikpedia, Dominionism, “…in the context of politics and religion, is the tendency among some politically active conservative Christians to seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action, especially in the United States. It is also known as subjectionism. The goal is either a nation governed by Christians, or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law. The use and application of this terminology is a matter of controversy…
“…dominionism [mostly] originates directly or indirectly from a specific passage in the King James Version of the Bible: And God blessed [Adam and Eve] and God said unto them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." Genesis 1:28 (KJV)…
“…Christians typically interpret this verse as meaning that God gave humankind responsibility over the Earth, although theologians do not all agree on the nature and extent of that "dominion".
In simple terms: Dominionism is the urge to create a theocracy---a government ruled by or subject to a specific brand of Christian religious authority. And, according to the literalists, you and I and everyone else are included in the “…every living thing that moveth upon the earth…” category.
Theocracies in Muslim countries are anathema to Americans---but here in America it’s okay for Dominionists if it is their Christian sect doing the dominion-ating.
This whole idea of Dominionism is, of course, obviously, naturally, clearly unconstitutional. Dominionism is just another name for an idea older than Christianity---an idea which the founders of this Nation specifically warned against by making it unconstitutional (the takeover of our government by any religion). The Dominionists themselves---the ones running for high office anyway---are smart enough (or have advisers smart enough) to refrain from actually calling themselves “Dominionists.” Even my spell-check can’t get itself to admit the existence of the word…
The main problem with this rise of Dominionism is not so much the danger of one Christian sect taking over the country---the various other Christian sects will see that does not happen. Rather the danger of floating such a crackpot notion is that---at a time when sharp awareness of and mental concentration upon the current situation of material reality is required by our leaders and our people---we are considering Presidential hopefuls who are militantly out of touch with reality and offering Dominionism as an incentive to get the votes of the most insecure and spiritually-frustrated religionists out there.
The notion of one sect of one religion taking over not only all of government but all matters economic, social and cultural is appealing to thwarted religionists whose miracles apparently cannot come true without government intervention. “Turning to God” to clean up the mess we have made is a sign of religious hysteria in these somewhat desperate times.
THE HOPEFULS -
In an August 27, 2011 column, New York Times editor, Bill Keller says:
“If a candidate for president said he believed that space aliens dwell among us, would that affect your willingness to vote for him? Personally, I might not disqualify him out of hand; one out of three Americans believe we have had Visitors and, hey, who knows? But I would certainly want to ask a few questions. Like, where does he get his information? Does he talk to the aliens? Do they have an economic plan? This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a “cult” and that many others think is just weird. (Huntsman says he is not “overly religious.”) Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity — and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism — which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction…”
Mr. Keller goes on to say that the Mormon hopefuls for President don’t bother him. But apparently the announced, unannounced, renounced, considered and reconsidered candidates who are “Dominionists” do bother him.
It should be noted here that, while Mormons are also well-represented as possible Republican party nominees, I will not deal with them in this context of because, like most Americans, I view Mormons as pretty solid, mainstream citizens. Just like the Catholic appointees invariably considered for the U.S. Supreme Court, Mormons have become relatively “safe,“ go-to alternatives to the Dominionist-Evangelicals running for President. Just as Congressmen fear Catholics on the Supreme Court less than they fear Evangelicals on the Supreme Court, so too do average Americans fear Mormons less than Evangelical-Dominionist Presidential candidates. These potential Dominionist candidates---and they have all “announced” their Dominionist goals in one way or another---are tempered in their current utterances only by the fact that their political advisers have advised them not to use that term.
“…I do want to know,” says NYT editor Bill Keller, “if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as “the reality-based community.” I do care if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.
“I am sorry but there should not even be any debate about this. Of COURSE we should know what kind of beliefs might inform the decision making of potentially the most powerful person in the world.
“Look at Rick Perry for example. The man has said numerous times that he would leave the more difficult problems facing his state, and our country, ‘in God’s hands.’ Is that really the guy we want to have at the helm tasked with steering this great country through the troubles which lie just over the horizon?”
DOMINIONISM DISQUALIFIES THESE CANDIDATES -
I would feel more comfortable if the Dominionists---Bachmann, Palin and Perry---were simply just using the idea as a trick to get the votes of the religiously anxious. But what’s really scary is that they actually seem to believe in it themselves---that if they get into office and manipulate things in some specific way all their religious yearnings will come true.
Bachmann, like all three Dominionist hopefuls, is proudly ignorant of science and wildly superstitious. Witness Bachmann telling Floridians that Hurricane Irene and the earthquake felt along much of the East Coast last week were messages from God to warn "politicians" to start heeding divine guidance, which she suggested is being channeled through small government conservatives.
In a sane updated version for the rest of America, Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart said the candidate was “joking” and that her comments weren't serious. "Obviously she was saying it in jest," Stewart told Talking Points Memo.
Sure, to the rational crowd she’s kidding…but the irrational audiences have a “literal” take on her Pat (“Hurricane”) Robertson imitations---where a punitive motive by a universal personality is attributed to random acts of weather. Pathetic---this is almost on the level of the Mayan priests who knew when an eclipse of the sun was coming and stood before the crowd saying: “See what I can do! I can darken the sun!“
Here we have people who are supposedly oozing religious faith---and imbued with Tea Party-type anti-government, small-government sentiments to boot---and now they want the government to jump-start their religious prophecies? No wonder Republicans are worried about the next Presidential election! But they have no one else to blame but themselves---they created this Frankenstein monster and purposely forgot to install a brain.
INTERNAL MEMO TO REPUBLICANS: “SET DECK CHAIRS ON ‘STUN’!”
Right-wing “classicist,” “historian” and Hoover Institution, Republican, oil-on-troubled-waters-man and sleight-of-hand artist, Victor Davis Hanson, vainly hopes “Economy may be only issue left in 2012” (Anchorage Daily News, print edition, 9-1-11). He says, “There is much talk about what some are perceiving as the fringe religiosity of possible Republican candidates such as Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry. But the media established the precedent four years ago that no candidate can be held responsible for his church.” Or so he hopes---because candidates are still responsible for their own religious views! And their "fringe religiosity" is not just “perceived!”
Mr. Hanson also tries to skate over the limited intellectual capabilities of the current crop of Republican Presidential hopefuls, with the desperate hope that “Prior education and college preparation should not be 2012 issues either…“ He cites the “dismal grades of…Texas Gov. Rick Perry“ and declares them “irrelevant.”
Gosh, who needs brains or a decent education to be President? Not our stellar lineup, says Hanson. But Obama (no religious fanatic) is, at the very least, highly intelligent and well educated---unlike the “giggle sisters“ and Perry, known as “the anointed one“ to his prayerful followers.
The last of the old Republicans are worried about these Tea Party crazies they have created---why even the Dominionists themselves deny they are “dominionists.
Here’s what the Dominionists are saying when hobnobbing with their own kind: Look, we are going to impose our opinion of moonlight upon America---its government, economy, culture, entertainment and entire society---and by any means if we have to (wink-wink). This is just another wacko idea to make one religion the boss of us all---an idea that has never worked and never will. But there will be trouble… In fact, there already is trouble.
Dominionists are associated with violence. There are the Palin family’s ties to militias. And then there is the Norway guy---Oslo Bomber and blue-eyed, blond-haired mass murderer. He is steeped in Christian Dominionism among other things. Of course there is enough denial to go around in a movement that dares not utter its own name!
Author Leah L. Burton deals with the subject of Dominionism in a new book: “God, Guns and Greed - A Dangerous Path for America.”
“God, Guns and Greed” is called “an irreverent look into the rise of religious extremism tying Perry, Bachmann, Palin and Company as not simply a handful of devout Christians. They are political Dominionists and their message is being preached from pulpits across America, reaching an enormous voting bloc of “social conservatives”.
IT ONLY SEEMS LIKE A LONG TIME AGO -
In a time not so long ago, Republican politicians associated themselves with hard core Christians in order to get their votes, the votes of regular Christians as well and, presumably, some much-needed moral cachet. Now, however, the few Republicans who still remember what that reality was like are getting worried they won’t be able to beat even a weakened Obama in the next presidential election---because too many of their potential candidates now are the radical fringe.
The Republicans have got the economy going their way---down. And there is a Black-skinned President in the White House going under the label of “Democrat.” But the Republicans have been playing the game for so long---that they are so “right” and so “conservative“---they have wound up with three overt Christian Dominionists and a Mormon or two for their possible presidential candidate.
The Republicans have every reason to be concerned because they are still trying to appear in touch with the mainstream and don’t want to estrange their more moderate, right-wing religious base by embracing the real fanatical extremists. But very few in the Republican party dare speak out very forcefully against any of these really radical Christians because they don’t want to insult the rest of them.
And let’s be clear: These Republican party jackwads are not concerned about violating the Constitutional strictures against melding Church and State; they are not worried about born-again Christian Mullahs telling everyone (but the rich) how to live; they are not troubled with one radical Christian sect (it will have to be one) imposing Jesus-Sharia law with Taliban-like “Prayer Warriors;” they are not anxious about other religions and philosophies losing their rights. No, what they are fearful of is losing the Presidential election plus a lot of other races to the Democrats!
For their part, the super-ultra-right conservative Christians have already made their pact with evil---we know, after the Congressional debt limit debate, that the Republicans are rich-man-evil while the Democrats are merely weak-willed.
As a footnote: Don’t those old-fashioned, old guard Republicans seem rather quaint these days? Compared to the strident shrieks of Bachmann-Palin-Perry, they appear kindly, benevolent and even benign. The old “conservatives” are now, indeed, very conservative now.
In summation: Americans---politicians and public---vote for what they fear least. But America doesn’t know what it wants---and will get what it doesn‘t want.
- Rudy Wittshirk