Posts Tagged “dominionist”

Conservative Christian Schools: Training Christian Students to Take Dominion Over America. Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National Archives

Conservative Christian Schools: Training Christian Students to Take Dominion Over America. Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National Archives

Like a number of GOP candidates before him that I’ve blogged about, Rick Santorum, current darling of the Religious Right and a contender for the Republican nomination for president, has come out against the principle of separation of church and state. He made these comments on ABC This Week to George Stephanopoulos, who reports on the interview (WebCite cached article):

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said today that watching John F. Kennedy’s speech to the Baptist ministers in Houston in 1960 made him want to “throw up.”

“To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?” Santorum said.

Actually, Rickie, we don’t live in a country like that! Like most Religious Rightists, he interprets “freedom of religion” to mean “freedom for religious people to use government as a weapon, to force everyone else to live according to their beliefs.” To the R.R., any effort by anyone to prevent them from pounding their religiosity into other people, is an impermissible impediment to their own religious freedom. He — and they — are also arguing a straw man. No one, to my knowledge, has ever said a religious person cannot run for or hold a political office because s/he is religious. Separation of church and state does not require that at all. There has never been any effort to remove religious people from office or prevent them from running.

It did not happen. It isn’t happening now. And it will never happen. Period. All the whining and bellyaching and railing about it, can never make it happen. To argue against it is foolish, since it’s non-existent. One may as well argue against pixies and unicorns too.

Santorum’s lie places him squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. I’m sure the former Senator will find himself in good company there.

It’s particularly troubling to see Santorum colorfully disparaging a speech that, arguably, opened the door for him — as the Catholic he is — to run for president. But his ignorance of history and his purposeful misstatement of what “separation of church and state” and “religious freedom” mean are not surprising.

I can’t think of any clearer indication than this, that Santorum is a dominionist, out to refashion the country into a Christocracy. What’s even scarier than a dominionist running for president, is that this particular dominionist is damned close to becoming the Republican nominee; only Mitt Romney stands in his way and the two of them are no longer very far apart.

Photo credit: Austin Cline / About.Com; original: National Archives.

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Most members of Woodland Hills Church near St. Paul stayed after the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd urged an end to sexual moralizing and military glorification and said America should not be proclaimed a Christian nation. (Bill Alkofer / New York Times)I stumbled across this New York Times story about a church in Maplewood, Minnesota, which lost a lot of congregants due to its pastor’s teachings (WebCite cached article). Apparently he wasn’t militant or political enough for their taste:

Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes. …

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Boyd didn’t back down, even though he’s no conservative, and some of his flock left over the matter:

Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul — packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals — was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

The Times article offers some more details on Boyd’s teachings that some 1/5 of his congregants found so horrifically offensive:

In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

“Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”

It’s very true that Jesus swerved clear of any puritanical sexual mores. In fact, the story of the woman taken in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) is an example of Jesus specifically choosing to ignore such considerations, even when one was literally thrown in his path. Jesus was also apolitical … to an extent that some in his audiences were bothered by it. Nevertheless, Jesus explicitly set the record straight: “Give to God what is God’s, and to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Mt 22:21, Mk 12:17, & Lk 20:25).

Congratulations to the Rev. Boyd for holding his ground in the face of overwhelming dominionist and theocratic pressure to make Christian churches into a collective government of the US. I may not agree with his beliefs, but I appreciate his method of following them.

Photo credit: Bill Alkofer for The New York Times.

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Andrew Sullivan, journalist and pioneering blogger whose views mostly have been in support of conservatism in the U.S., has decided to divest himself from the Right — and for reasons similar to my own for having done so. Earlier this week, he wrote:

It’s an odd formulation in some ways as “the right” is not really a single entity. But in so far as it means the dominant mode of discourse among the institutions and blogs and magazines and newspapers and journals that support the GOP, Charles Johnson is absolutely right in my view to get off that wagon for the reasons has has stated. Read his testament. It is full of emotion, but also of honesty.

In case you don’t know, Charles Johnson is another pioneering blogger, the man behind the Right-leaning blog Little Green Footballs. Sullivan goes on to say:

The relationship of a writer to a party or movement is, of course, open to discussion. I understand the point that Jonah Goldberg makes that politics is not about pure intellectual individualism; it requires understanding power, its organization and the actual choices that real politics demands. You can hold certain principles inviolate and yet also be prepared to back politicians or administrations that violate them because it’s better than the actual alternatives at hand. I also understand the emotional need to have a default party position, other things being equal. But there has to come a point at which a movement or party so abandons core principles or degenerates into such a rhetorical septic system that you have to take a stand. It seems to me that now is a critical time for more people whose principles lie broadly on the center-right to do so – against the conservative degeneracy in front of us.

Unfortunately, I saw conservatism’s “degeneracy” years ago and broke from it then. (Yes, I was a Republican party activist through the ’90s, despite my Agnosticism. It was not, then, an impediment to working for the Republican party in my home state of Connecticut. It would, however, very likely prevent me from being involved in the Republican party now; the non-religious no longer even have a home among Connecticut’s “moderate” Republicans.)

The chief reason for my departure was the GOP’s increasingly militant religiosity and the growing power of dominionists and quasi-dominionists within its ranks. As it happens, Sullivan also cites the Right’s religiosity as one point in his own indictment of the Right:

I cannot support a movement that holds that purely religious doctrine should govern civil political decisions and that uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power.

This is, of course, not new. Others associated with the Right have also noticed, and been repulsed by, the hyperreligiosity of US conservatism (e.g. Kathleen Parker, about whom I’ve blogged already). Hopefully, Sullivan’s mention of Right-wing religious militancy will be picked up by more people, and maybe this time someone will actually pay attention.

Then again, with the popularity of ardent religionists and quasi-dominionists among the Right (e.g. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, etc.), I doubt Sullivan’s critique will be enough. More than likely, the sanctimoniously-blinded Right will just cast aside Sullivan’s indictment by asserting that “he was never really a conservative,” and thus dismiss him. More’s the pity.

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