Dominionism: Conspiracy Theory or Actual Movement?

Michelle Bachmann

Michelle Bachmann

With the rise of the Religious Right in this country and the temporary liberal backlash that was seen in the election of Barack Obama, which led to a similar backswing right back to the right in the election of many Tea Party freshmen to the House of Representatives. There has been a rise in religious undertones in this country. There has also been a large increase in the number of people that publicly subscribe to conspiracy theories and what many mainstream people would outlandish ideas.

Take for example the Moon Landings. A Poll done in 2009 by The Institute of Engineering and Technology in the UK showed that 25% of the people surveyed did not believe men landed on the Moon. Many people cite anecdotal and circumstantial evidence, much of it appearing to be simple rumor, as the reasoning for believing it was faked. Despite hard facts that seem obvious to most of us, they will hold fast to their beliefs. But what happens when no hard facts are available? What can be believed?

Late last night Michelle Goldberg of The Daily Beast/Newsweek published an article which ties Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry to Dominionism. In the article she links both of them to prominent Dominionist organizations. Before we look into the evidence let’s go over what Dominionism actually is.

Dominionism, at it’s most basic element, is the belief that all forms of rule, leadership, authority should be Christian. Something the New Apostolic Reformation called the “Seven Mountains.” The entire basis for Dominionism comes from a single passage from the book of Genesis in the King James Version

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

of the Bible.

Genesis 1:28 – “And God blessed them, 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.”

The most common interpretation of that passage is that humanity has responsibility over the earth. The idea of subjugation is a new one. Originally Anthropocentrism, the idea of Dominionism arose from that. It originally started in the late 60s to early 70s by R. J. Rushdoony. He had created a branch of Chrisitanity called Christian Reconstructionism. He is also responsible for the movement of Christian Homeschooling to avoid secular public schools. The New Apostolic Reformation (The Pentecostal version of Christian Reconstructionism) began in 2001.

The tenets of Christian Reconstructionism are:

  • Calvinism
  • Theonomy (Old and New Testament law should the be the only law)
  • Postmillennialism (God’s kingdom began at the first coming of Jesus Christ, and will advance progressively throughout history until it fills the whole earth through conversion to the Christian faith)
  • Presuppositional Apologetics (Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought)
  • Extremely limited Government and unregulated economics.

For those of you keeping score at home. Slavery is allowed under biblical law. It even details just how much you can beat your slaves.

The social structure advocated by Christian Reconstructionism would have the clergy, laity and government, individually and corporately, to be in ultimate submission to the moral principles of the Bible, including the Old Testament, while retaining their separate jurisdictional spheres of authority and roles in society as inferred from principles of biblical law, both Old and New Testaments. (from Wikipedia)

According to Sara Diamond, as she wrote in her book Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right:

[The concept of Dominionism is] that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns.

So it’s safe to say that Dominionism in at least some form exists. But what does Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann have to do with it?

According to Michelle Goldberg,

[...]we have the most theocratic Republican field in American history, and suddenly, the concept of Dominionism is reaching mainstream audiences. Writing about Bachmann in The New Yorker this month, Ryan Lizza spent several paragraphs explaining how the premise fit into the Minnesota congresswoman’s intellectual and theological development. And a recent Texas Observer cover story on Rick Perry examined his relationship with the New Apostolic Reformation, a Dominionist variant of Pentecostalism that coalesced about a decade ago. “[W]hat makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government,” wrote Forrest Wilder. Its members “believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take ‘dominion’ over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the ‘Seven Mountains’ of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world.”

On August 6th, Perry held “The Response.” A Christian only prayer rally at the Reliant Arena in Houston. The leadership team of The Response consisted of leaders and self-proclaimed prophets from The New Apostolic Reformation movement.

As for Bachmann:

The Bachmanns (herself and her husband Marcus) have detailed that seeing the video series “How Should We Then Live?” by the evangelist and theologian Francis Schaeffer.

Schaeffer, who ran a mission in the Swiss Alps known as L’Abri (“the shelter”), opposed liberal trends in theology. One of the most influential evangelical thinkers of the nineteen-seventies and early eighties, he has been credited with getting a generation of Christians involved in politics. Schaeffer’s film series consists of ten episodes tracing the influence of Christianity on Western art and culture, from ancient Rome to Roe v. Wade. In the films, Schaeffer—who has a white goatee and is dressed in a shearling coat and mountain climber’s knickers—condemns the influence of the Italian Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Darwin, secular humanism, and postmodernism. He repeatedly reminds viewers of the “inerrancy” of the Bible and the necessity of a Biblical world view. “There is only one real solution, and that’s right back where the early church was,” Schaeffer tells his audience. “The early church believed that only the Bible was the final authority. What these people really believed and what gave them their whole strength was in the truth of the Bible as the absolute infallible word of God.”

The first five installments of the series are something of an art-history and philosophy course. The iconic image from the early episodes is Schaeffer standing on a raised platform next to Michelangelo’s “David” and explaining why, for all its beauty, Renaissance art represented a dangerous turn away from a God-centered world and toward a blasphemous, human-centered world. But the film shifts in the second half. In the sixth episode, a mysterious man in a fake mustache drives around in a white van and furtively pours chemicals into a city’s water supply, while Schaeffer speculates about the possibility that the U.S. government is controlling its citizens by means of psychotropic drugs. The final two episodes of the series deal with abortion and the perils of genetic engineering. (via the New Yorker)

Michelle herself has said of the series,

That also was another profound influence on Marcus’s life and my life, because we understood that the God of the Bible isn’t just about Bible stories and about Bible knowledge, or about just church on Sunday. He is the Lord of all of life. Every bit of life, including sociology, theology, biology, politics. You name the area and walk of life. He is the Lord of life. And so, as we went back to our studies, we looked at studying in a completely different light. Not for the purpose of a career but for a purpose of wondering, How does this fit into creation? How does this fit into the code and all of life that is about to come in front of us? And so we had new eyes that were opened up as we understood life now from a Biblical world view.

In 1979, Michelle enrolled at the O. W. Coburn School of Law, at Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was in the first class as it had just opened that year. Ironically, it closed and moved to Pat Robertson’s Bible-based college in Virginia in 1986. Which is the year she graduated. The first issue of the school’s law review, Journal of Christian Jurisprudence, explains the two goals of the school: “to equip our students with the ability to bring God’s healing power to reconcile individuals and to restore community wholeness,” and “to restore law to its historic roots in the Bible.”

There’s much more that can be detailed here but we’ll leave it at this. All the extra evidence is superfluous. It’s safe to say that there is at least an effect of Dominionism on the Christian Right. But we can’t really know the extent of the effect.

The unfortunate problem with all this evidence is that it’s anecdotal. They point to her character and to her life but any lawyer in any courtroom (even ones that graduated from Oral Roberts University) can tell you that it does not provide a “smoking gun” that either of them are die-hard Dominionists. There is no record of her saying that she is going to institute biblical law and make this a christian nation.

Though for many people it’s still a very daunting thought that if one of them were to get elected that they would try to make this a christian nation. It won’t happen though.

That’s near impossible to do when you consider the amount power or influence a group would have to acquire to make that happen. The Constitution would need to be ammended. That would require a 2/3 majority on both the House and the Senate. Then it goes to vote in the states and have to be ratified by 3/4 of the states. Note that the President has no authority in the amendment process at all.They can only give their opinion on the matter.

Next consider trying to make a law based on the bible in Congress. You would need a super majority for both House and Senate and then signed by the President. After that the Supreme Court would have to somehow agree that the law does not violate the constitution.

So the only way they are going to institute their “Seven Mountains” capture is by way of revolution. And I REALLY don’t see that happening. Even though knowing that we are safe from biblical law. The thought of either of those two becoming the next president, keeps me up at night.

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