Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Christian Dominionism is getting too influential for even mainstream reporters to ignore

The Christian dominionists are in a position that clearly makes them uncomfortable. They've had decades in which they could talk theocracy to their followers but the Establishment press would tip-toe around looking at their actual religious beliefs and their direct implications for democratic government. There are at least some signs their ability to fly under the radar of attention from those, including, other Christians who don't share their Christian Right worldview is diminishing significantly.

Rick Perry's prayer event this summer which was backed by the leading lights of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the reactionary, screamingly superstitious Pentecostal trend that is theoretically a loose unity of individual churches but in fact is a stealth denomination, may have been some kind of tipping point. Michelle Bachmann's early prominence in the Republican Presidential race also helps focus attention when she says things like this:

She hailed the tea party as being common-sense Americans who understand government shouldn't spend more than it takes in, know they're taxed enough already and want government to abide by the Constitution.

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending." (Adam Smith, Michele Bachmann rally draws over 1,000 in Sarasota, but some prefer Rick Perry St. Petersburg Times (08/29/2011)
That superstitious comment drew wider press attention, and her campaign issued a statement that it was a joke. But it's only funny if you more-or-less believe that God literally speaks through the weather, a view largely restricted to Christian fundamentalists in the US and the occasional New Ager.

It actually seems even more disturbing to me if it was meant to be a joke, given it was Hurricane Irene weekend. Either way, it's an example of how it's becoming at least marginally more difficult for politicians to talk one way to Christian Right audiences and then try to deny the plain English meaning of what's they've said in other contexts. They've been able to get a way with with a great deal of impunity for the last three decades.

Sarah Posner, who is not given to being starry-eyed about such things, writes hopefully but cautiously in Political Reporters Start Reading Religious Right Books Religion Dispatches 08/29/2011:

There's a somewhat refreshing development taking place in political reporting. Not only reporters are noticing that Republican candidates coalesce with religious right leaders, but they are also discovering a crucial truth about the movement: that its followers aren't just motivated by opposition to abortion and LGBT rights. They are motivated by something more fundamental, a reimagined "truth" about what America is (and isn't) and how a "biblical worldview" should guide politics and policymaking.
The Christian Right generally shares Ron Paul's hardline Christian dominionist views, which Adele Stan accurately describes as "anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-senior-citizen, anti-equality, anti-education, pro-communist-witch-hunt." (5 Reasons Progressives Should Treat Ron Paul with Extreme Caution -- 'Cuddly' Libertarian Has Some Very Dark Politics Alternet 08/26/2011) There are many different variations, of course. The NAR types consider Southern Baptists and Mormons to be part of churches controlled by demons. But those diversities shouldn't detract us from the remarkable degree of political agreement on basic reactionary political goals.

Far from letting their little lights shine, advocates of Christian dominionism are very anxious to not have it discussed frankly in public. They claim to have wanted to "put God back into the public square." They've at least put their own reactionary version of Christianity into the "public square." But they don't seem happy to have direct exchanges with critics.

Bachmann and dominionism by Richard Weikart McClatchy Newspapers 08/17/2011 is an example of the nothing-to-see-here-move-right-along type of Christian Right defense. This style fits in well with the white people's whine so popular among segregationists and the Christian Right, two heavily overlapping categories. We hear a version of it every year in whining about the non-existent "war on Christmas," an old anti-Semitic complaint. Rachel Tabachnick in WaPo's On Faith Columnist Calls NAR 'Previously Unknown Group' Despite 49 Articles by NAR Apostle Talk to Action 08/29/2011 explains that Weikart "Weikart is a senior fellow of the [creationist, anti-science] Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute and author of 'From Darwin to Hitler.'"

Posner and Julie Ingersoll at Religion Dispatches and Tabachnick and Chip Berlet at Talk to Action are some of the best sources on Christian dominionism.

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