This afternoon, Associated Press Religion Writer Rachel Zoll devoted over 1,600 words to "dominionism," spending much of it attempting to cast Rick Perry as their guy, even though, as she admitted, "Perry has never said anything that would directly link him to dominionism." Oh, but he's sorta said some things that might hint at such sympathies, and he's been on stage with people who are supposedly "dominionists." Zoll even cited MSNBC's Rachel Maddow as a supposedly authoritative source.
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Election-year goals of Christian group questioned
In the 1940s, an argument erupted among a group of American Christians far from the mainstream.
Pentecostals, the spirit-filled worshippers known mostly for speaking in tongues, were at a crossroads, divided over the extent of God's modern-day miracles. If God made apostles and prophets during the New Testament era, did he still create them today?
Most Pentecostals said no, and went on to build the movement's major denominations.
A minority disagreed — and amazingly, their obscure view is now in the crosshairs of a presidential race. Some critics, fearing these little-known Christians want to control the U.S. government, suspect that Republican Rick Perry is their candidate.
... These preachers believe demons have taken hold of specific geographic areas, including the nation's capital. They also promote a philosophy of public engagement known as the "seven mountains," which urges Christians to gain influence in business, government, family, church, education, media and the arts as a way to spread righteousness and bring about God's kingdom on earth. The language seems close to dominionism, the belief that Christians have a God-given mandate to run the world.
Ever since Perry gave the leaders a broader platform (at a prayer rally Perry hosted in August), religion scholars and activists have been debating whether these church leaders represent a real threat, an apocalyptic vanguard maneuvering to establish a Christian government.
... MSNBC's Rachel Maddow warned that dominionists want to prepare the world for Jesus' return by "infiltration and taking over politics and government." Michelle Goldberg, author of "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism," wrote at The Daily Beast, "We have not seen this sort of thing at the highest levels of the Republican Party before."
... Perry has never said anything that would directly link him to dominionism. However, he fueled speculation about his views at the rally by quoting from Joel 2, a Bible book the preachers favor, which tells of a prayer assembly of spiritual warriors as the world ends. On stage with the governor was Alice Patterson, author of "Bridging the Racial and Political Divide: How Godly Politics Can Transform A Nation," who believes there is a "demonic structure behind the Democratic Party."
Robert Black, a Perry campaign spokesman, said the GOP governor is an evangelical who attends Lake Hills Church in Austin.
So if you read from a book of the Bible dominionists like, you're part of the grand conspiracy to make the U.S. a Christian-controlled nation. Wow, and they say some people on the right are paranoid?
Making sure not to leave another devout candidate behind, Zoll also spent a paragraph on "whether Michele Bachmann's religious and political views have crossed a line into dominionism." After all, the woman attended Oral Roberts University. Oh the humanity! But Zoll concludes that the Minnesota congresswoman doesn't have "the definitive marker of someone who thinks only Christians should govern" -- which I guess is supposed to make us think that Rick Perry might.
From what I can tell, Zoll doesn't even get the definition of "dominionism," such as it is, right. She writes, as seen above that it's "the belief that Christians have a God-given mandate to run the world." Not that it's the most authoritative source, but Wikipedia, which sometimes leans toward being hostile to religions, describes it thusly:
Dominionism is a term used to describe the tendency among some politically active conservative Christians to seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action, especially in the United States, with the goal of either a nation governed by Christians, or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law.
The use and application of this terminology is controversial. Apart from a handful of social scientists who first coined it, the term is almost exclusively used by journalists and bloggers, and "there’s a lively debate about whether the term is even useful at all."
Zoll's definition appears to unjustifiably paint dominionism in far darker terms than it deserves -- assuming that it's even worth any bother at all. I'm leaning towards the idea that even dealing with it -- except to caution others that doing so is a waste of time is, as Wiki indicates, "not useful at all."
Given that the nation's Founders can in large part be described as having had a belief that the country was based on a "conservative (i.e., freedom, federalism, limited government) Christian understanding of biblical law," it's more than a little difficult to see what the fuss is about -- unless you're an establishment press religious writer who has been tasked with concocting some kind of smear against openly religious conservative or Republican candidates.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.