Dominion Theology in American Politics: The Radical Christian Right Agenda–Threat to Peace? (Part 8)

Submitted by RWMaster on Sat, 11/26/2016 - 07:31
 
lynching of blacks (1930)

Lynched Blacks (1930)

(Note: This is the concluding part of an 8-part series: See Part 1:Dominion Theology in American Politics: The Radical Right Under Spotlight

See Part 7: Dominion Theology in American Politics:  The League of the South and the Theological War Thesis of the American Civil War

Many have commented on the success of the Christian Right in entrenching itself in power. It has been explained that individuals identifying with the Christian Right take great interest in contributing action to promoting the agenda of the Right. They have a high turn out rate at the polls and their commitment to Christianity motivates them to work, even without pay, for the electoral success of candidates of the conservative Right. Churches, in-spite of their tax-exempt status, often get themselves overtly involved in politics. A notable example is the widely reported case of the pastor of East Waynesville Baptist Church, North Carolina, who forbade his congregation to vote for Democratic candidate John Kerry or face the prospects of expulsion from church. Nine church members who were known to be Kerry supporters were later expelled. Such extreme manifestations of political activism among Christians identifying with the Right contrasts sharply with the general political apathy of individuals identifying with left wing progressive  ideology, especially at the polls at which they tend to a low turnout rate.

Writers like Stanley Kurtz have castigated left wing writers describing their views of conservative Right political activism as "conspiratorial nonsense," and "political paranoia." Kurtz severely criticized what he considers, among left wing critics of the Right,  "a highly questionable picture of a virtually faceless and nameless 'dominionist' Christian mass."  He was critical of the tendency among liberals to conceive of a link between the average Christian Evangelical and extremist groups such as the Reconstructionists. According to Kurtz, the idea that conservative Christians are working to re-institute slavery and racial segregation is not only "crazy (but also) downright dangerous." He referred to a story by Chris Hedges in which the writer attempted to link Christian conservative ideology with Nazi fascism. He argued that "wild conspiracy theories" which link the Christian Right with fascism, slavery and genocide are only "excuses for the Left to disregard the rules of democracy and defeat conservative Christians–by any means necessary."

But in this series of articles, we have examined the hard evidence of a growing convergence among the leaders of the Christian Right, especially between the Christian Reconstructionists and extremist League of the South; evidence which challenges the argument that growing concern in the Left about the political activities and influence of Reconstructionists among Evangelical Christian Right leaders is merely "political paranoia." The convergence of Reconstructionism influenced Right activist groups like Coral Ridge Ministries,  Focus on Family, Concerned Women for America and the Eagle Forum, beginning with Roy Moore's highly controversial drafting and  promotion of the  Constitution Restoration Act bill justifies what writers like Kurtz considers "wild conspiracy theories."  The fact is that the "innocent" masses of the Evangelical Christian Right will be led like sheep as their Reconstructionist theology influenced leaders direct, with or without their conscious consent. The history of religious groups like Jim Jones' Peoples Temple sect emphasizes the almost hypnotiod susceptibility of religious followers to leadership agenda, however radical. Thus, it is sociologically naive for writers like Kurtz to criticize the linking of the "average" and supposedly "innocent" Evangelical Christian masses "who have never heard of dominionism" or Dominion Theology with Christian Reconstructionism.

The roots of the Christian Right in active opposition to Civil Rights is most instructive on what it stands for in American politics–the preservation of an archaic and racist WASP order now under threat in a new era of enlightenment. The outmoded cultural heritage of slavery, racism and jingoistic race nationalism–not just Christianity–is what is meant by the term "conservative." What the Southern elite terms "Christianity" really is the religious tradition legitimizing a clannish and exclusivist racist social, cultural and political heritage.The Christian Right, in the admissionof one of its early leaders Paul Weyrich (co-founder of the Christian Voice), arose in opposition to the attempt by the IRS to rescind the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University which had banned admission to white candidates in interracial marriage or dating, though it became usual for Christian Right leaders, deferring to prevailing standards of political correctness, to claim that the Right was provoked to activism by the Roe vs. Wade decision which legalized abortion (Paul Weyrich one of the founding leaders of the Christian Voice explicitly denies this).

The realization that the culturally conservative Christian South was in need of a political forum to represent its interest informed the founding of the American Christian Cause by RobertGrant in 1974. The founding of the Christian Voice in 1978 by Robert Grant, Paul Weyrich, Terry Dolan, Howard Phillips and Richard Viguerie was intended to mobilize the South for greater involvement in elections and defend its core conservative values. Jerry Falwell who, in a 1958 sermon, had opposed desegregation, claiming that it threatened the survival of the "white race" founded what he called the Moral Majority in 1979 (commentators often date the origins of the New Christian Right to the founding of Falwell's Moral Majority). The Christian Right influence in American politics grew in leaps and bounds after the founding of the Moral Minority. Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition became very influential in American politics in the late 1980s and 1990s and with the Republican activist Ralph Reed opened the era of Christian activists working within the Republican part to influence legislation and political nominations. The pivotal argument in Christian Right political activism was voiced unambiguously by Jerry Falwell when he  claimed, after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, that feminists,homosexuals, abortionists and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) were responsible for turning God against America and opening her up to terrorist attacks.The argument that America needs a constitution which aligns it with "God's standard" and thus preserve its national greatness is one that the "innocent" Evangelical christian masses will always find compelling, while ignoring its far reaching implications to civil liberties and rights in a pluralistic society.

While radical Christian Right leaders continue to downplay the full political significance of their actions, it is in accordance with political wisdom for the Left to read the "signs of the times" and act pro-actively (the Left simply cannot afford to be merely reactive in the attempt to avoid being accused of "political paranoia"), for if nothing else is certain, one thing is: Regardless of the appeal of Right extremists groups as the League of the South to the legitimizing word "Christianity," what is ultimately being subtly promoted in mainstream Christian circles is return to the old exclusivist WASP ideology which only promoted ethnic-racial intolerance, conflict,the crime of slavery and genocidal dispossession of Native Americans. A nation which crossed the Atlantic Ocean to settle race nationalism induced mayhem in Second World War Europe cannot afford to nurture such grotesquely atavistic ideological leanings represented in neo-Confederate "Christian Nationalism." The United States assumed the mantle of world leadershipin opposition to the atavistic resurgence of Germanic tribal militancy in the Nazis and thus may only justify its world leadership by setting an example to the rest of the world in its present choice of pluralistic liberal ideology which promotes racial, ethnic and cultural pluralism which we all know (from the example of Nazi Germany,Old Yugoslavia and Rwanda) is the best way to peaceful and prosperous future, not just for a "God-fearing, Bible Reading, hymn-singing," slaveholding, Southern "Chosen People" clannish grouping of a section of mankind, but for mankind as a whole: white, black, yellow and brown…

The struggle between the forces of theocracy and democracy in the United States is one that liberals world over are watching with keen interest and maybe even with some trepidation at its possible outcome.

JohnThomas Didymus is the author of "Confessions of God: The Gospel According to St. JohnThomas Didymus" (Read a Free Three Chapters Excerpt Here).

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