The Rise of Dominionism
Remaking America as a Christian Nation
By Frederick Clarkson
LEFT: The Ten Commandments at the
Alabama State Courthouse; RIGHT: Joel's
Army placard - a reference to what dominionists believe
is a coming army of young people dedicated to cleansing
the earth in preparation for the Return of Christ.
What we today call "Christianity" in the
United States is NOT Christianity at all; it is in fact
the antithesis of everything for which Christianity stands;
indeed, it bears a striking and very foreboding resemblance
to the "religion" that animated Hitler's Third
Reich - and so much so that IF CHRISTIANS IN AMERICA WERE
TO LOOK AT THEMSELVES IN THE MIRROR, WHAT THEY MIGHT FIND
GAZING BACK AT THEM ARE THE GHOSTS OF ADOLF HITLER AND
The very real fact of the matter is, the "prophets"
and "apostles" of America's New World Order
System - "seers" and "diviners" like
Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Bennie Hinn, Paul Crouch,
C. Peter Wagner, Paul Cain, etc. - are harnessing the
very same preternatural and aberrant spiritual forces
to create their new world order system that the theoreticians
of Hitler's Third Reich used for Hitler's "Millennial
Kingdom" - miserable, wretched pseudo-intellectuals
and spiritualists like Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich
Nietsche, Guido von List, Jorge Lanz von Liebbenfels,
George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky,
Rudolf von Sebottendorff, Houston Stewart Chamberlain,
Both Hitler's "religion" and the "religion"
of America's New World Order System aimed (aim) at the
creation of a race of "GOD-MEN" with which to
conquer and subdue the world. The "SUPERMAN"
that Hitler endeavored to create was to be unlike all
other men on earth; indeed, he told Hermann Rauschning
"The NEW MAN ... would be ... different ...
from homo sapiens as we know him ... So fierce and terrible
would he be that ordinary humans would hardly be able
to look him in the face; this race would be the true
aristocracy, and all others would be subjects."
"The selection of the new ... [leadership class]
is what my struggle for power means. Whoever proclaims
his allegiance to ... [my new world order] is, by that
very proclamation and by the manner in which it is made,
one of the CHOSEN ONES. This is the great significance
of our long, dogged struggle for power, that in it will
be born a new master class, chosen [by God] to guide
the fortunes not only of the German people but of the
world." [Note the use by Hitler of a biblical
term: "chosen ones" (cf. Matt. 24:15,
Luke 23:35, John 6:70, 15:16, 19, Acts 10:41, 15:22,
This is precisely the kind of SUPERMAN that the "seers"
of America's New World Order System are seeking to create
as well. Hitler attempted to forge his class of SUPERMEN
using "race," "genetics" and the occultism
of Valhalla; Christians in the United States are attempting
to give birth to their race of SUPERMEN using the "magic"
and "spirituality" of a DEVIATE form of Christianity.
But the goal is the same: the creation of a race of SUPERMEN
with which to conquer and subdue the earth. Take, for
example, what Reuven Doron, one of the more popular religious
zealots of America's "New Christianity," has
to say; he says that -
"... the ... premise of spiritual revival [which
will culminate in the conquest of the world by the forces
of Christianity] ... hinges upon the rising and completion
of the ministry of the prophetic 'Son of Man Company'
... Today the Lord is calling forth a 'Son of Man Company'
..." [For a further description of the kind
of "New Christianity" that we are talking
about here, please see our article, "The
Superman Theology of the International Christian Embassy's
Feast of Tabernacles;" please also see
our last article, "A
Now think about what Doron is saying here: ALL of
human history "HINGES" upon the "rising
and completion" of the "Son of Man Company,"
a race of SUPERMEN who - according to Bob Jones, another
religious devotee of the American New World Order System
- will be able to:
"... move into things of the SUPERNATURAL that
no one has ever moved in before ..."
An army of "GOD-MEN" that Jack Deere, yet
another "apostle" of America's New World Order
System, says will be -
"... totally unique. There’s never been
one like it and there never will be one like it in ages
to come ... It’s so mighty that there’s never been anything
like it before ..."
There's "never been anything like it before?"
Come on now! - What's the difference here between the
NEW MAN that Hitler attempted to create - a man "so
fierce and terrible ... that ordinary humans would hardly
be able to look him in the face" and Jack Deere's
and Bob Jones' description of the Christian NEW MAN? Not
much, that's for sure! It should give one pause in answering
the question as to whose hand is really behind America's
"New Christianity:" Christ's? or anti-Christ's?
THESE ARE THE GOD-MEN FOR WHICH MANY OF THE RELIGIOUS
RIGHT FIGURES LISTED BY CLARKSON (below) ARE PREPARING
THE WAY - God-men who many Dominionists believe will ignite
the greatest revival the church has ever known (is about
to occur); the greatest baptism of the Spirit the Church
has ever experienced (will shortly happen); the greatest
army (JOEL’S ARMY) distinguished
by invincibility, immortality and divinity (will be raised
up); the greatest purging ... in
the history of the church (will shortly begin);
the greatest ministry - the Prize of all Ages (is about
to break forth); and (6) the greatest miracles, supernatural
signs and wonders far exceeding that of the Apostles and
Prophets of old (will shortly take place)."
When Roy Moore, the Chief Justice of the Alabama State Supreme
Court, installed a two-and-one-half-ton granite monument to
the Ten Commandments in the Alabama state courthouse in Montgomery
in June of 2001, he knew it was a deeply symbolic act. He was
saying that God's laws are the foundation of the nation; and
of all our laws. Or at least, they ought to be. The monument
(wags call it "Roy's rock") was installed under cover
of night - but Moore had a camera crew from Rev. D. James Kennedy's
Coral Ridge Ministries on hand to record the historic event.
Kennedy then sold videos of the installation as a fundraiser
for Moore's legal defense.
They knew he would need it.
The story of Roy's rock epitomizes the rise of what many are
calling "Dominionism." It is a story of how notions
of "Biblical law" as an alternative to traditional,
secular ideas of constitutional law are edging into mainstream
As readers of The Public Eye know, Dominionism-in its
"softest" form the belief that "America is a
Christian Nation," and that Christians need to re-assert
control over political and cultural institutions-has been on
the rise for a long time. Since The Public Eye first
began writing about Dominionism ten years ago, the movement,
broadly defined, has gained considerable power. Recently however,
the term has become fashionable with some lumping every form
of evangelical Christianity and every faction in the Bush White
House into one big, single-minded imperial dominionist plot.
Dominionism is narrower and more profound than that. It is the
driving ideology of the Christian Right.
It comes in "hard" and "soft" varieties,
with the "hard" or theocratic dominionists "a
religious trend that arose in the 1970s as a series of small
Christian movements that seek to establish a theocratic form
of government," according Political Research Associates
Senior Analyst Chip Berlet. The seminal form of Hard Dominionism
is Christian Reconstructionism, which seeks to replace secular
governance, and subsequently the U.S. Constitution, with a political
and judicial system based on Old Testament Law, or Mosaic Law.
Not all dominionists embrace this view, though most dominionists
look back to the early years of the American colonies to argue
that before the Constitution, "the United States was originally
envisioned as a society based on Biblical law."
Berlet's distinction between hard and soft dominionists is
clear and broad enough to describe the two main wings of the
movement. But these viewpoints, like the terms "theocrat"
and "theocracy," are openly embraced by few. They
are terms used by outside observers to understand a complex
yet vitally important trend. So for people trying to figure
out if a conservative politician, organization, or religious
leader is "dominionist," I notice three characteristics
that bridge both the hard and the soft kind.
Dominionists celebrate Christian nationalism, in that they
believe that the United States once was, and should once again
be, a Christian nation. In this way, they deny the Enlightenment
roots of American democracy.
Dominionists promote religious supremacy, insofar as they
generally do not respect the equality of other religions, or
even other versions of Christianity.
Dominionists endorse theocratic visions, insofar as they
believe that the Ten Commandments, or "biblical law,"
should be the foundation of American law, and that the U.S.
Constitution should be seen as a vehicle for implementing Biblical
Pieces of Dominionism spill out in the day-to-day words and
activities of our nation's leaders all the time. Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) routinely hosts tours of the Capitol
for constituents, Congress members and their staffs by Christian
nationalist propagandist David Barton. President George W. Bush
claimed during one of his presidential campaign debates with
John Kerry that the United States was founded as a Christian
nation. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has said the United
States should be governed under Biblical law.
And a dominionist- Sen. Sam Brownback (RKS) -is a hopeful
for the Republican presidential nomination for 2008, while other
dominionists are challenging the GOP through the Constitution
Party, the third largest party in the nation. Moore himself
is challenging a business-oriented incumbent in the GOP gubernatorial
primary in Alabama for 2006.
Hard dominionists like Moore take these ideas to their extremes.
They want to rewrite or replace or supplement the Constitution
and Bill of Rights to codify specific elements of Biblical law.
This would create a society that would be a theocracy. Soft
dominionists like Brownback, on the other hand, propose a form
of Christian nationalism that stops short of a codified legal
theocracy. They may embrace a flat tax of 10% whose origins
they place in the Bible. They are comfortable with little or
no separation of church and state, seeing the secular state
as eroding the place of the church in society.
Dominionism is therefore a broad political tendency-consisting
of both hard and soft branches-organized through religiously
based social movements that seeks power primarily through the
electoral system. Dominionists work in coalitions with other
religious and secular groups that primarily are active inside
the Republican Party. They seek to build the kingdom of God
in the here and now.
The three-shared Dominionist characteristics of religious supremacy,
Christian nationalism, and theocratic visions are on vivid display
in the politics of Moore's ally, Rev. D. James Kennedy, the
prominent televangelist. In early 2005, Kennedy displayed Roy's
rock at his annual political conference, "Reclaiming America
for Christ" in Ft. Lauderdale. "For more than 900
other Christians from across the United States," reported
the Christian Science Monitor, "the monument stood
as a potent symbol of their hopes for changing the course of
"In material given to conference attendees, [Kennedy]
wrote: 'As the vice-regents of God, we are to bring His truth
and His will to bear on every sphere of our world and our society.
We are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods,
our schools, our government ... our entertainment media, our
news media, our scientific endeavors-in short, over every aspect
and institution of human society."
Kennedy, the Monitor noted, "regularly calls the United
States a Christian nation that should be governed by Christians.
He has created a Center for Christian Statesmanship in Washington
that seeks to evangelize members of Congress and their staffs,
and to counsel conservative Christian officeholders."
The Monitor story shows Kennedy manifesting all three
characteristic of a dominionist: he is a Christian nationalist;
he is a religious supremacist; and his politics are decidedly
theocratic. But of the three characteristics, Kennedy would
embrace the first, but deny the second and third.
Moore and the Separation of Church and State
The notion we often hear in public these days-of the supposed
suppression of Christian expression by an alleged secular humanist
conspiracy-stems largely from the works of Reconstructionist
R.J. Rushdoony and those of the Reconstructionist- influenced
writer, Francis Schaefer. Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, and Pat
Robertson also echo these claims.
The charge can be heard across the decades in Christian Right
claims that "secular humanism" is being taught in
the public schools and that Christians are "persecuted"
in America. A recent variation of this claim was made by soft
dominionist, Dr. Richard Land, a leader of the Southern Baptist
Convention. "The greatest threat to religious freedom in
America," Land declared, "are secular fundamentalists
who want to ghetto-ise religious faith and make the wall of
separation between church and state a prison wall keeping religious
voices out of political discourse."
Virginia Reconstructionist Rev. Byron Snapp maintains, "religious
pluralism is a myth. At no point in Scripture do we read that
God teaches, supports, or condones pluralism. To support pluralism
is to recognize all religions as equal." This is, of course,
exactly what the U.S. Constitution requires. It is because this
is so, in part, that there is such a desperate push for what
Rushdoony called "Christian revisionism" of history.
Arguably, Moore is emerging as the leading Christian Reconstructionist
politician in America. So let's return to the story of Roy's
A few years ago, Moore was an obscure Alabama county judge.
He gained notoriety when the American Civil Liberties Union
sued because he insisted on hanging a hand-carved Ten Commandments
plaque in his courtroom and opening the proceedings with a prayer.
While the case was ultimately dismissed because the plaintiff
lacked standing to sue, Roy Moore became a nationally known
as the "Ten Commandments Judge." Moore, 58, turned
his notoriety into election as chief judge of the Alabama Supreme
Court in November 2000. Six months after his inauguration, he
installed the now-famous monument. The ruling by Federal District
Court Judge Myron H. Thompson in the inevitable lawsuit declared
that the display constituted "a religious sanctuary, within
the walls of a courthouse." He ordered Moore to remove
it; Moore refused, and he was ultimately removed from the bench.
NOTE FROM CLARKSON:
What is Christian Reconstructionism?
While Rev. D. James Kennedy of the Coral Ridge teleministry
appears to represent "soft Dominionism," he is a borderline
case. Some of the political agenda he, Moore and their allies
pursue strikes me as hard dominionist. And by this I mean rooted
in Christian Reconstructionism, a theology that arose out of
conservative Presbyterianism in the 1970's. It asserts that
contemporary application of the laws of Old Testament Israel
should be the basis for reconstructing society towards the Kingdom
of God on earth.
Led by the movement's seminal thinker, the late Rev. R.
J. Rushdoony, Reconstructionism argues that the Bible is to
be the governing text for all areas of life, art, education,
health care, government, family life, law and so on. They have
formulated a "biblical worldview" and "biblical
principles" to inform and govern their lives and their
politics. Reconstructionist theologian David Chilton succinctly
described this view: "The Christian goal for the world
is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics,
in which every area of life is redeemed and placed under the
Lordship of Jesus Christ and the rule of God's Law."
It has been difficult for many Americans to accept the idea
that a theocratic movement could be afoot, let along gain much
influence in 20th century America, but Robert Billings, one
of the founders of the Moral Majority once said, "if it
weren't for [Rushdoony's] books, none of us would be here."
This does not, of course, mean that everyone influenced by Rushdoony's
work is a Reconstructionist. Rather, as Billings indicated,
it provided a catalyst and an ideological center of gravity
for the wider movement of ideas that have percolated throughout
evangelical Christianity, and parts of mainline Protestantism
and Catholicism for the past three decades.
The original and defining text of Reconstructionism, is
Rushdoony's 1973 opus, The Institutes of Biblical Law - an 800-page
explanation of the Ten Commandments, the Biblical "case
law" that derives from them and their application today.
"The only true order," he wrote, "is founded
on Biblical Law. All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical
law-order represents an anti-Christian religion." In brief,
he continues, "every law-order is a state of war against
the enemies of that order, and all law is a form of warfare."
The Chalcedon Foundation, a Reconstructionist think tank
under whose auspices Rushdoony did most of his writing, recently
celebrated its 40th anniversary with a conference on the life
and work of Rushdoony.
Interestingly, the Chalcedon Report, the journal of the
Chalcedon Foundation, recently reported that Roy Moore's Foundation
for Moral Law is preparing "to hold seminars that will
teach judges, lawyers, and law students about Biblical Law as
the basis of America's laws and Constitution." "There
is a lot more being written and said about this than there was
a few years ago," Moore told Chalcedon Report. "The
truth that's been cut off for so long is being brought out into
the open, and it will prevail."
Judge Thompson was additionally troubled by Moore's partnership
with Rev. Kennedy. He wrote that it "can be viewed as a
joint venture between the Chief Justice and Coral Ridge, as
both parties have a direct interest in its continued presence
in the rotunda.... In a very real way, then, it could be argued
that Coral Ridge's religious activity is being sponsored and
financially supported by the Chief Justice's installation of
the monument as a government official."
Moore became a cause celebre and a popular speaker at
major gatherings of such organizations as the Christian Coalition
and Eagle Forum. He was publicly courted to head the national
ticket of the overtly theocratic Constitution Party in 2004
and he appeared at numerous state party conventions while being
publicly coy about his intentions. (Founded in 1994, it was
originally called the U.S. Taxpayers Party.) The GOP was rightfully
concerned that Moore might divide Bush's conservative Christian
constituency and threaten his reelection.
But he was able to use this leverage to move elements of the
GOP in his direction. Moore and his attorney Herb Titus (vice-presidential
candidate of the Constitution Party in 1996) drafted the Constitution
Restoration Act, which would allow local, state and federal
officials to acknowledge "God as the sovereign source of
law, liberty, or government" and prevent the U.S. Supreme
Court from gagging them. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Sen. Sam
Brownback (R-KS), and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) signed on
as the bill's main sponsors, and announced its introduction
at a press conference in Montgomery, Ala., in February 2004.
That same day, a conference sponsored by Moore's Foundation
for Moral Law drew a who's who of dominionists and dominionist-influenced
Christian rightists, including Howard Philips, Herb Titus, John
Eidsmoe, Phyllis Schlafly, Alan Keyes and representatives from
such leading Christian Right organization as Coral Ridge Ministries,
Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and Eagle
Forum. One of the featured speakers was Rev. Joseph Morecraft,
a leader of the theocratic Christian Reconstructionist movement.
Both the House and Senate held hearings on the bill in 2004,
and Sen. Shelby reintroduced it in 2005 (S.520). As of September,
it had eight GOP cosponsors. In the House (H.R.1070) Rep. Aderholt
had 43 cosponsors. It is a classic and pioneering "court
stripping" bill, stripping the Supreme Court of its power
of oversight. The clear presumption of the bill is that God's
law is, once was, and should always have been the cornerstone
of law and jurisprudence in the United States. While at this
writing, the bill has not, and may never progress out of committee,
the depth of support for a bill of such profound consequence
is one fair measure of how far the most overt dominionist agenda
The rhetoric of Roy Moore, David Barton and other Christian
Right leaders not withstanding, the framers of the U.S. Constitution
explicitly rejected the idea of a Christian Nation. The framers,
seeking to inoculate the new nation against the religious persecution
and warfare that had wracked Europe for a millennium, made America
the first nation in the history of the world founded without
the blessing of an official god, church or religion. They were
leaving behind local theocracies that had governed the colonies
for the previous 150 years in which only white propertied men
who were members of the correct, established sect were able
to vote and hold public office. One of the formative experiences
of the young James Madison was witnessing the beating and jailing
of Baptist preacher who preached-it was against the law in Anglican
Madison went on to become the principal author of both the
Constitution and the First Amendment. Among the many historical
issues faced by dominionists who embrace Christian nationalism
and seek to revise history in support of their contemporary
political aims, one is so clear and insurmountable that it is
routinely ignored: Article 6 of the Constitution bans religious
tests for holding public office-no more swearing of Christian
oaths. By extension, this meant that one's religious orientation
became irrelevant to one's status as a citizen. It was this
right to believe differently, that set in motion the disestablishment
of the state churches-and set the stage for every advance in
civil and human rights that followed.
Granite Rock Begets a Slate of Candidates
Moore has taken his show on the road, speaking about his alternative
view of American history at major and minor Christian Right
conventions, and displaying the monument. It is typically cordoned
off with velvet ropes and viewed with reverence, awe and rubber
Moore leveraged this notoriety beyond the lecture tour into
a campaign for governor of Alabama. Not only is he given a (long)
shot at winning the June 2006 GOP primary against the incumbent
business oriented GOP governor Bob Riley, The Atlantic Monthly
reports Moore is assembling "an entire slate of candidates
to run under his auspices in the Republican primary… Moore has,
in effect established a splinter sect of religious conservatives
bent on taking over the Republican Party, and his reach extends
to every corner of the state." This has establishment types
in both parties worried. "In style in if not in substance,"
the article concludes, "Moore's religious populism is a
lineal descendant of the race-baiting that propelled Wallace
to the statehouse a generation ago."
Moore evidently set out to provoke a confrontation with the
federal courts over the Ten Commandments monument-one he was
destined to lose, much as Alabama Governor George Wallace lost
in his defense of legal segregation 40 years before.
Some GOP strategists fear that if Moore wins, he may set up
a confrontation with the federal government by once again installing
the Ten Commandments somewhere the federal courts are likely
to rule violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Puritanism in America
The sudden rise of a Christian Right agenda in many states
and the federal government has taken many by surprise. It may
be tempting to see Roy Moore as an exception, but his rise is
reviving old coalitions. In 2004, his former spokesman and legal
advisor, Tom Parker, was elected as an Associate Justice of
the Alabama Supreme Court. At Parker's request, U.S. Supreme
Court Justice Clarence Thomas made the trek to Montgomery to
swear him in. Exjudge Moore then also swore him in. "The
Chief's courage to stand for principle over personal position
inspired me and animated voters during my campaign for the Alabama
Supreme Court" said Parker. "So, I have been doubly
blessed to have been sworn into office by two heroes of the
judiciary." But Parker's politics has additional roots
in the politics of the Wallace era. He has longstanding ties
to neoconfederate organizations such as the Council of Conservative
Citizens and the white supremacist League of the South and calls
his home "Ft. Dixie."
While Alabama has its distinctive politics, we can also see
dominionist politics in the mix of the aggressive efforts to
restrict access to abortion and to deny equal rights to gays
and lesbians-and in the efforts to teach creationism and its
variant "intelligent design" in the public schools.
Naturally, people look for explanations for how it has come
to this. There are many factors for this trend, just like any
other important trend in history. But many Americans, regardless
of their political orientation, seem genuinely baffled and obsessed
about one or another factor in the rise to power of the Christian
Right: they look to issues of funding, mass media, megachurches,
dominionism, and so on. It is all of these and more. However,
following the logic of Occam's Razor, that the best explanation
is usually the simplest, I offer this: the Christian Right social
movement, fueled by the growing influence of dominionist ideology,
gained political influence because it was sufficiently well
organized and willing to struggle for power. And now they are
While most dominionists would say they favor the U.S. Constitution,
and merely seek to restore it to the original intentions of
the founders, in fact, their views are profoundly anti-democratic.
The dominionist worldview is not one based on the rights of
the individual as we have come to know them, but on notions
of biblical law. Among the political models admired by the likes
of D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson and Reconstructionist writer
Gary North is the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a government ruled
by the intensely Calvinist Protestant sect, Puritanism. In the
dominionist worldview, the biblically incorrect (and those of
other religious views) are second-class citizens at best. While
few would admit to the clear implications of Christian nationalism,
dominionism in the short run necessarily means, as a matter
of theocratic public policy, reducing or eliminating the legal
standing of those who do not share their views.
Indeed the dominionist movement and its allies in Congress
are actively seeking to eviscerate the capacity of the federal
courts to protect the rights of all citizens. Developing a coherent
understanding of the ongoing role of dominionism in the dynamic
growth of the Christian Right movement will be integral to any
effective counter strategy in this, one of the central struggles
of our time.
Frederick Clarkson has researched and written about the
religious right for going on 25 years. He is the author of Eternal
Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, and
is a member of The Public Eye editorial board. He blogs at www.FrederickClarkson.com
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