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Dominionism

New Webpage - 9 September 2005

Dominionism can be defined as "the seizure of earthly (temporal) power by the church as the only means though which the world can be rescued; only after the world has been thus 'rescued' can Christ return to 'rule and reign'." [1] A more extreme version is Theonomy which seeks to reinstate the Old Testament civil code -- for example, putting to death -- by an electric chair vice stoning -- all homosexuals and gluttons.

This "Christian Reconstructionism" is an extremist view whose goal is to eliminate religious freedom by imposing a misinterpreted-Bible-based political, religious, and social order. Any thing outside the interpretation of the very narrowly construed church would be suppressed, with nonconforming Evangelical, main line and liberal Christian churches no longer being allowed to hold services, organize, proselytize, and so forth. Even blasphemy -- however "they" want to define it -- would be criminalized. When found guilty, they would be executed -- thus raising the specter of religious genocide. Much of this slaughter of innocents would be justified by a literal and irrational interpretation of the Biblical books of Leviticus and Exodus, just to name a few -- all of this in terms of a "defense of the faith." The difficulty of such a "defense" is, as always, in the definition of what constitutes the "proper faith".

Katherine Yurica has written an excellent piece of Dominionism [2], in which she notes that the movement now includes in its membership: President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Karl Rove (Bush's chief political advisor), Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, former Vice-President Dan Quayle, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Oliver North (of Contra fame), Pat Robertson (700 Club), Billy Graham, and others.

To give you a sense of the potential horror of this movement, Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court has said that the Bible teaches and Christians believe "...that government ...derives its moral authority from God. Government is the 'minister of God' with powers to 'revenge', to 'execute wrath', including even wrath by the sword..." [3]

We are talking here about a seriously deluded, dysfunctional, and demented viewpoint. To say that such advocacy and action to accomplish same is treason and anti-ethical to virtually all systems of moral legitimacy is to damn it with faint praise. The powers that be in Washington, DC represents an out-of-control return to all of the horrors and evils of the Spanish Inquisition. Whether or not the power-mad advocates of Dominionism truly believe in this theology -- as opposed to just using the movement for their own personal agendas -- is not clear. What is clear is that this narrowly focused Christian fundamentalism in America makes the extreme fundamentalists in the Middle East appear relatively tame.

Katherine Yurica's essay [2] is a long one, but essential reading for anyone who claims themselves as a member of any religion. The positive aspects of Christianity are being highjacked by some incredibly dysfunctional people. It is essential that the word be spread and the movement deflected into Christian tolerance, compassion, and love.

A follow up Yurica Report is The Covert Kingdom by Joe Bageant, which has the aspect of recognizing the value of many fundamentalists' basic values and at the same time appreciating the potential horror of enforcing a system of beliefs on everyone.

It is essential to recognize that "Faith without doubt leads to moral arrogance, the eternal pratfall of the religiously convinced. We are humble before the lord, [President George W.] Bush insists. We cannot possibly know His will. And yet, we 'know' He's on the side of justice -- and we define what justice is. Indeed, we can toss around words like justice and evil with impunity, send off mighty armies to 'serve the cause of justice' in other lands and be so sure of our righteousness that the merest act of penitence -- a apology for an atrocity -- becomes a presidential crisis." [4]

The fact is that most find Bush's moral pronouncements both duplicitous and fatuous. As Joe Klein said, "Democracy doesn't easily lend itself to evangelism; it requires more than faith." "Moral pomposity is almost always a camouflage for baser fears and desires." [4]

Bush is joined by such luminaries at Rush Limbaugh who attempted to deflect the horror of the atrocities commited by U. S. troops at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by suggesting that the soldiers were frustrated at being shot at by the ungrateful Iraqi people, and thus just wanted to "blow some steam off," to "have a good time." As Nancy Gibbs has observed, "When we are reduced to insisting that our depravity isn't as bad as the other guy's, we have fallen deep into a pit of moral equivalence that reveals what we have lost." [5] Such are the failings of Dominionism.

A Parting Shot

Taking the course of finding a silver lining in every possible dark cloud, we might observe that Dominionism may turn out to be of some value. Its extremism is sufficient that perhaps -- hopefully -- the backlash will return us from the brink of doom and institute an enormously more loving and compassionate trend. But then the Spanish Inquisition had quite a run, as I recall. When John Kerry's wife referred to another term for the Bush administration as "four more years of hell", she may have been understating the potential horror. (Because there is always Jeb Bush waiting in the wings for 2008!)

The hope is that the negatives of religion -- of which there are legion -- can be erased from the earth. A backlash to Dominionism may be able to accomplish just this.

Okay, so the latter is a real stretch to find a silver lining in the dark clouds. But somewhere along the trek we all need to cease to bury our heads in the sand and let the world know that an American Inquisition is not something desirable.

_________________________

References:

[1] http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Dominionism

[2] http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/TheDespoilingOfAmerica.htm

[3] Sam Harris, The End of Faith; Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2004.

[4] Joe Klein, "The Perils of a Righteous President," Time Magazine, May 17, 2004.

[5] Nancy Gibbs, "Their Humiliation, and Ours", Time Magazine, May 17, 2004.

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