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View Diary: Inside the Christian Right Dominionist Movement That's Undermining Democracy (310 comments)

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  •  a big part of the danger of dominionist (31+ / 0-)

    theology is the confusion it creates for everyday right-wing Christians.  OK the average conservative Christian may not be an active member of the Apostolic Reformation,  But they have been raised with the view that Christianity will eventually and triumphantly take over the the world in a geopolitical and social/cultural sense.  "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done..." are part of the Lord's Prayer offered in most Christian Churches every week.  In years past, that phrase of the Lord's prayer was considered to be a prayer for the Lord's Kingdom and will to reign in our hearts and those of our fellow man--the phrase did not mean to physically take over the world.  Even fundamentalist Christians had more the attitude of "be in the world but not of the world" rather than "take over the world."

    But since the advent of Falwell's Moral Majority and Robertson's candidacy more and more conservative Christians are subjected to preaching which tells them they must "take back" the culture for Jesus.  And since they have no effective way to do that but politics and Republicans have shown a willingness to advocate this program, right wing and even moderately conservative Christians are going to vote for Republican candidates who espouse the same thing as their Pastor does. Do they advocate a totalitarian/authoritarian regime instead of our democracy and would they like it if it existed?  Perhaps not.  But how many people have you heard saying that they don't care if their rights are abridged if it keeps the country safe?  And how many more people think that authoritarian policies are going to affect other people and not them?  

    So is it really correct to downplay the danger that right-wing Christians pose to American Democracy?  I don't think so.  They may not meet the definitions of a dominionist activist but they are certainly a willing, if uninformed part of their power base.

    A culture that exalts its own moral certitude and engages in uncritical self-worship at the expense of conscience commits moral and finally physical suicide--Chris Hedges

    by Tchrldy on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 11:08:32 AM PDT

    •  That is one of the most concise (10+ / 0-)

      and accurate analogies of what is transpiring within American Christianity and politics I have seen.

      Excellent synopsis.

      "The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism." Sir William Osler

      by wxorknot on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 11:33:31 AM PDT

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      •  within PART of American Christianity... (4+ / 0-)

        Happily, mainline Protestant denominations are busily at work ordaining gay and lesbian clergy, and continuing to ordain women; the Presbyterians (PCUSA) just jettisoned reams of micromanaging, domineering, hidebound rules of governance in favor of flexibility, simplicity, and accommodation; and the pedophilia scandals have shaken the paternalistic foundations of Roman Catholicism. There are still many millions of reformed and otherwise liberal Christians in the world. I like to think of us as a sea anchor against the dominionists, and I think our role is going to be increasingly important, even as our "footprint" shrinks.

        The world is entering an increasingly dislocated and scary era -- legions of poor migrants are on the move, bringing their skin color and culture and biochemistry and genetics to new lands that would prefer they bring only their capacity to perform lower-paying jobs; technological changes continue at breathtaking speed; neoliberal economics with its free trade, cheap labor, conglomeration, and unimaginable accumulation of wealth, has distorted and contorted the world's markets; we are just a few years away from worldwide shortages of food, fresh water, and oil -- no wonder people cursed [IMO] with a conservative nature are frightened out of their minds, and casting about desperately for some way to imagine a safe future and control their destiny.

        Moderate and liberal Christians will be on the front lines as compassion fatigue, resource adventurism, xenophobia, and despair -- my version of the Four Horsemen -- are loosed in the world. I would argue that we'll be well-positioned to model a version of Christianity unconcerned with earthly dominion for conservative Christians who can't quite stomach religious authoritarianism.

        •  as a liberal Christian myself (3+ / 0-)

          I wish I could be as optimistic as you are.  I don't see liberal Christian leaders taking much of a stand.  Perhaps we will become what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "the Confessing Church," but how often do you see a mainstream Christian leader standing up to a conservative dominionist preacher or calling out a conservative Republican candidate for misusing the Bible?

          A culture that exalts its own moral certitude and engages in uncritical self-worship at the expense of conscience commits moral and finally physical suicide--Chris Hedges

          by Tchrldy on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 05:13:25 AM PDT

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          •  The UCC and the UUA have done so (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tchrldy, Frederick Clarkson, raincrow

            But their efforts have gotten almost no media coverage, so very few people know about it.

            •  they need to change (0+ / 0-)

              in response to the world around them. Moored in their values of course, but change they must.

              •  The UUA? In what way? (0+ / 0-)

                We're already on the front lines of every progressive movement in this country.  We also have a strict no-evangelism policy.  

                •  UUA and UCC (0+ / 0-)

                  have no approach to citizen involvement.

                  I remember speaking at a large UU a few years ago, and reading on a wall tapestry of some sort, a long list of all the things one should do. Nothing there to disagree with.  And then I pointed out to the group that there was no call for engagement as a citizen.  

                  In a democracy, if you abandon the playing field to those who oppose you, lose.  The success of the religious right has been that they have been able to vastly increase the level of electoral participation of their constituencies at all levels in ways disproportionate to other sectors.  Its fine to have well honed positions on public policy, but if we lack the knowledge, skills and vision to figure out how to navigate electoral politics in ways consistent with our values, we end up betraying those values by having no plan to make those values real in public life.

                  We talk a good game, but I am sad to say that the religious right does democracy better than we do.  And they are using the tools of democracy to erode if not destroy it.  Throw in the growing dominionist factor, and you get more of the latter than the former.

                  This is nothing new in my thinking. I made a big point of this in my book Eternal Hostility in 1997.  

                  The book of essays I edited in 2008, Dispatches from the Religious Left:  The Future of Faith and Politics in America, was intended to open up conversations about these things. But it didn't work nearly as well as I had hoped.

                  •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

                    The UUA has been on the front lines of every single progressive or liberal cause since the 1840s.  Individual UU's are out there volunteering and fund raising and picketing and writing letters.  I have never seen a socially or politically uninvolved group of UU's, and I've belonged to UU congregations for over thirty years.

                    I don't think it's the UUA per se that's the problem.  I think it's more that liberals and progressives have a lamentable tendency to argue and nitpick so much that they end up doing nothing.  

                    •  being on the front line of "issues" (0+ / 0-)

                      or many individuals being active in certain ways, is not the same thing as having an approach to power.  This is not unique to the UUA. It just happens to be who you asked about.

                      It would be wrong to think of this as in any way nit picking. Think of it as my being willing to state what I see as a significant obstacle to success, and one effectively exploited by the religious right.  Disagree if you must, but really, nit picking?

          •  I'm not sure I'm "optimistic" (0+ / 0-)

            I'm just saying that, as segments of society cozy up to open notions of feudalism, anarchy, regression, corporatocracy, fascism, theocracy, and other tyrannies -- supported by the corporatocracy's multi-billion$$$$ propaganda machine --there will remain millions of reformed Protestants and liberal Catholics ready to provide terra firma (coelus firmus?) to people mindlessly caught up in these secular and religious movements who eventually take a good damned look at what they're doing and reconsider.

            We are going to have to be relentlessly mindful of the powerful; relentlessly forgiving of the weak; and courageous in the face of the hatred, fear, and massive dislocation we'll be facing in the 2nd half of this century, when Earth becomes very un-fun.

        •  And are bleeding members to the evangelicals (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tchrldy
          •  Evangelicals per se are not the problem (0+ / 0-)

            particularly as an increasing cut of these born-again, proselytizing Christians realize the right wing is out of step with the two commandments of the New Covenant, and Jesus' specific instructions to care for the poor and weak and eschew the pursuit of material wealth.

            We dry-cleaned, saved-only-by-grace, born-just-once, Satan-schmatan Reformed types don't have all the evangelical flash and sizzle, but that's style rather than substance. It does not necessarily imply different core beliefs concerning our duty to God and neighbor.

            The problem is the rise in authoritarianism, both religious and secular, by the most radical (ok, regressive) elements of the right wing; and the fact that, because they have invested 40 years and billion$$$ saturating society with right-wing propaganda with almost no competition, Joe and Jane Blow don't even blink twice when the RW spews hatred, lies, and an open desire to disenfranchise large segments of the polity.

        •  Thanks raincrow. It should go without saying, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raincrow

          that it is indeed a portion of Christianity that has been on the forefront of division. A small but growing portion that are setting  fires that both Christian and non-Christian alike are attempting to prevent as well as put out.

          Also, I think it is important to note that many good Christians exist with no doubt, but instead have been carried up in a whirlwind without their choosing.  It is what I and others have termed a hijacking of the Christian religion.

          I hope you are correct "

          Moderate and liberal Christians will be on the front lines as compassion fatigue, resource adventurism, xenophobia, and despair -- my version of the Four Horsemen -- are loosed in the world. I would argue that we'll be well-positioned to model a version of Christianity unconcerned with earthly dominion for conservative Christians who can't quite stomach religious authoritarianism."

          I too am not optimistic that things will be changing for the better anytime soon.

          In my opinion there is escalation taking place and that is a real concern I share with a growing and escalating number of non-Christians.

          The animosity appears to be increasing on both sides now, as the rift becomes wider.
          Meanwhile the moderates are left in the lurch but I think you already caught that.

          "I like to think of us as a sea anchor against the dominionists, and I think our role is going to be increasingly important, even as our "footprint" shrinks."

          The far right Christian movement (dominionists) will never listen to the other side; that will only add fuel to this fire. It must come from within the Christian religion community itself as I believe you allude to.

          Challenge lies ahead.

          "The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism." Sir William Osler

          by wxorknot on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 08:52:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  yes and the rise of end times (8+ / 0-)

      doctrine has seriously mucked up their thinking.

      Many modern day Christians have no clue that the cottage industry built on rapture theology is primarily a cultural phenomena marketed through big publishing and speaking tours since the advent of "Late Great Planet Earth" and have somehow come to believe this is what has been taught since the beginning of the faith.

      Christianity has always taught that Christ will return.  It has not always taught this elaborate doctrine the pretends to know the time and place and events and it has warped many contemporary Christians so they don't care what becomes of the planet or anyone on the planet.  It is a doctrine that appeals to a sense of personal vanity (I know the secret - you poor slobs can all suffer).

      One night I went to the grocery store and saw a small group of older people standing in the meat section having a serious discussion about attending some sort of revival meeting on Revelations and they were standing around seriously debating whether or not the President might be the anti-christ.

      It was an Alice down the rabbit hole moment for me.

      •  yes and it is an important point you raise (8+ / 0-)

        about the publishing industry.  Christian publishing is very big business--and I'm not talking about Bibles.  The religion section of the local bookstore has an ever expanding collection of Christian books.  Almost all of them have a conservative right-wing Republican perspective and present this perspective as the ONLY Biblical perspective further reinforcing the preaching and teaching they hear in church.  

        A culture that exalts its own moral certitude and engages in uncritical self-worship at the expense of conscience commits moral and finally physical suicide--Chris Hedges

        by Tchrldy on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 03:08:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Tchrldy, this was sent-in ..... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tchrldy

      ..... to the Top Comments diary this evening.

      "We should pay attention to that man behind the curtain."

      by Ed Tracey on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:14:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks :) n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ed Tracey

        A culture that exalts its own moral certitude and engages in uncritical self-worship at the expense of conscience commits moral and finally physical suicide--Chris Hedges

        by Tchrldy on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 05:16:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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