22 August 2011

"Dominionism" explained

Excerpts from a column by Michele Goldberg at The Daily Beast:
Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional. Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outr├ę, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult...

In many ways, Dominionism is more a political phenomenon than a theological one. It cuts across Christian denominations, from stern, austere sects to the signs-and-wonders culture of modern megachurches...

“‘Dominion theologians,’ as they are called, lay great emphasis on Genesis 1:26–7, where God tells Adam to assume dominion over the animate and inanimate world,” wrote the scholar Garry Wills... “When man fell, his control over creation was forfeited; but the saved, who are restored by baptism, can claim again the rights given Adam.”..

Bachmann is close to Truth in Action Ministries; last year, she appeared in one of its documentaries, Socialism: A Clear and Present Danger. In it, she espoused the idea, common in Reconstructionist circles, that the government has no right to collect taxes in excess of 10 percent, the amount that believers are called to tithe to the church...

In elaborating Bachmann’s Dominionist history, though, it’s important to point out that she is not unique. Perry tends to be regarded as marginally more reasonable than Bachmann, but he is as closely associated with Dominionism as she is, though his links are to a different strain of the ideology... “The New Apostles talk about taking dominion over American society in pastoral terms,”..

If Bush eroded the separation of church and state, the GOP is now poised to nominate someone who will mount an all-out assault on it. We need to take their beliefs seriously, because they certainly do.
More at the link.

24 comments:

  1. I don't get it.

    So Genesis 1:26–7, "where God tells Adam to assume dominion over the animate and inanimate world" means that taxes shouldn't be greater than 10%? This seems like a total non sequitur.

    And why is this upsetting/scary/noteworthy? I think taxes should be 0%, so that position seems rather boringly moderate.

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  2. It's upsetting, 032125, because we have separation of church and state for many good reasons. Can you point to a theocracy that is beneficial to all its citizens? Have you read Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale? Do you think things are really great for everyone in Iran? Would you like to see Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists and Protestants who are not of the right fundamentalist sect jailed, banned from working, their children not allowed in public schools (which would really be religious schools)? Please think about this.

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  3. @barb>> Thinking does not come into the question. At all, it's a matter of blind faith and religious zealotry.

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  4. I recall this being called "Triumphalism" elsewhere, earlier.

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  5. Yes, yes. There are scads of Evangelicals just licking their chops to jail and persecute people of other faiths. Give me a break. This is so insulting to people of my faith that it is hardly worth commenting on except to say that it is sad that you would believe we would do that.

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  6. Brad, which part of the text I cited is incorrect? I'll try to append corrections if necessary.

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  7. Sorry, Minnesotan. I just saw that I neglected to direct that comment to Barbwire. I apologize.

    The only thing I can really say to you regarding your post is this: this theology of "Dominion" is hardly widespread in the form that I think you would fear. I am an evangelical pastor. I think I have a pretty good feel for the evangelical culture, and I would definitely say I don't know anyone who holds this view.

    Now, we do believe that God has granted people certain unalienable rights. So yes, I would say that a Christian has the "right" to rule and have dominion...as long as he/she can get the necessary votes! But I would affirm this for an atheist as well, and I do not tie this to Baptism, but in the fact that everyone is made in the image of God. I pray and teach my friends to pray for our leaders, no matter how much disagreement we may have with them. This is surely what our faith teaches, and we are to live peaceably with others as much as we are able.

    Are Bachmann and Perry in some sort of Dominionist club? I seriously doubt it. Have they used some of the rhetoric that sounds like they are? Maybe? I would say that they are probably better politicians than they are theologians, and I take all the theological statements that they make with a grain of salt.

    I will say, personally, that I do not find either candidate very appealing at this point. So far, the run up to elections has been one long *sigh*.

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  8. Thanks for the clarification, Brad. I don't know whether the cited politicians are as extreme as they are portrayed in this piece, or not. I posted the excerpts mostly for reference because I suspect the term dominionism may come up if either of these guys becomes the Republican presidential candidate (which I doubt, btw...).

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  9. I don't think that they will win nomination, either. It is a difficult thing for a person of faith to be a politician. The temptation to appeal to others with similar beliefs in order to win a vote is probably terrible. Conversely, the temptation to vote for someone who holds similar views is also present.

    But there are so many important things in government that are not universally agreed upon by people inside their own faiths. How do we deal with the poor as far as welfare goes? How big should government be? What do you do when we have stolen from Social Security and it has come time to pay the piper?

    Even in controversial things this is difficult. If your faith teaches that homosexual conduct is immoral, how do you live in an understanding way with your fellow citizen with whom you disagree? And vice versa. These are questions that people have to wrestle with on their own, and I think what we should be looking for in a candidate is someone who has wrestled and is being rational, even if we disagree.

    BTW, the idea that evangelicals are lock step with folks like Perry is quite apparent. You simply cannot explain the popularity of Ron Paul amongst evangelicals if you think of evangelicals as all "moral majority" folks or "dominion" advocates.

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  10. Being a Jewish person (according to wikipedia) Ms. Goldberg might be more concerned with Sharia law, the darling of Islam, which seeks to physically destroy it's Jewish opposition, as opposed to trying to steer our government to the (gasp!) Right.

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  11. "I don't think that they will win nomination, either. It is a difficult thing for a person of faith to be a politician."

    Wait.... What?

    How many agnostics or atheists serve in political office? Zero.

    So again..... what?

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  12. "Being a Jewish person (according to wikipedia) Ms. Goldberg might be more concerned with Sharia law, the darling of Islam, which seeks to physically destroy it's Jewish opposition, as opposed to trying to steer our government to the (gasp!) Right."

    The difference is that Sharia law rules in America about as much as Chinese law. In other words, we refer to it in certain cases where it would be improper for our own courts to rule.

    That's it.

    Dominionism, however, is a belief held by politicians aspiring to the presidency and with the means to actually pull it off.

    Worlds of difference.

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  13. "Yes, yes. There are scads of Evangelicals just licking their chops to jail and persecute people of other faiths. Give me a break. This is so insulting to people of my faith that it is hardly worth commenting on except to say that it is sad that you would believe we would do that."

    I'd suggest you read the Comments Section of your local newspaper the next time they post anything even vaguely related to Islam.

    Jailing is among the lighter atrocities that gets thrown around.

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  14. Regarding the assertion by Brad that Dominionists are "hardly widespread", perhaps not but they have power and access to power. See:
    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/07/21/c_street/?source=newsletter

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  15. Tithes and taxes are seperate from each other. A tithe is what goes back to God to further his kingdom and to show our respect to Him for the 'fruit' he has given us. A tax is what the goverment requires to do its good/dirty works. Malachi 3:10 is a heavely quoted verse when its time for the tithe offering during church.

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  16. No one should bother taking 032125 seriously. his avatar is the logo for "Anonymous," a collective identity for online hacktivists, trolls and other cyber punks.

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  17. So, if any of these two clowns become the presidential candidate, my choices are between a person who believes that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions, and the current president, who believes that Politicians have God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Awesome choice. Although I would probably choose the latter (only because I mistrust Christians more than politicians) why should I have to choose at all? Where is the candidate that believes I have a God-given right not to be ruled?

    Anonymous said...
    "No one should bother taking 032125 seriously. his avatar is the logo for Anonymous..."

    Irony Defined.

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  18. Bret, I saw a phrase today attributed to Jay Leno:

    "If God had meant for us to vote, he would have given us candidates."

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  19. I consider Jay Leno generally unfunny but that is a gem. I will be repeat it often (sincerest form of flattery?).

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  20. When 'they' offered tax immunity to churches, and the churches accepted it, the churches sold their integrity. They are not allowed to enter the political arena (though they obviously still play a role). Seems to me that if churches were worth anything they would pay their taxes for the right to be a visibly independent political force instead of taking the roles of puppeteers and/or apologists that claim realized they should have done more after the fact (torture, segregation, stopping war, etc.)
    Also, sooner or later the majority of god worshipers are going to realize that the 'in god we trust' on the USD is not 'their own' god but someone else's and then, finally, the movement for c&s separation will once again find momentum.

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  21. So what's worse, a person who says, "I have no god, I have no use for power, I would never get voted in anyway, at least I have access to lawyers and courts here"
    or a person who thinks, "this god has a lot of sheep, I'll say I am one of them to acquire power and still do what I want"
    or "my god has chosen ME to take the world for him to do his work as written thousands of years ago"

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  22. Rev. Williams, I was not referring to ALL evangelicals, but these particular Dominionists. You sound like a sincere, thinking person, and these candidates do not appeal to you. And as to tithing versus taxation, Jesus Himself said, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's."

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  23. No one should bother taking Anonymous seriously. his name is the same as "Anonymous," a collective identity for online hacktivists, trolls and other cyber punks.

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  24. Looks like I am late to the party. Dominionism worries me quite a bit.

    Who am I? An Evangelical (Southern Baptist) Pastor. In most Southern Baptist (and in most other Evangelical circles) that I run in, Dominionism is a very small minority.

    While I believe (and love to share my faith with others), I'd give my life fighting for the right of others to believe differently if they so choose.

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