While the People Sleep, Critics Weep
O'Connor, Frances, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets,,, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. [Matt. 24:24]
How Should a Diverse and Democratic Society Deal with Issues of Religion?
In the past fifteen years much has been written about both the fundamentalist evangelical Christian movement and the conservative element of the Republican Party. More recently there has been a focus on the efforts of leaders of the two factions to merge their respective movements, name George W. Bush their leader and emblaze their "Christian" imprint on all three branches of government. Once these goals are accomplished their stated intent is to make inroads internationally. (1) This paper will examine the strategy for merging the two factions, Bush's emergence as leader and, most importantly, the influence an underestimated movement of ideas has had as a catalyst for an historic shift in American religion and politics. For the first time in American history a sitting president has openly acknowledged that his personal faith beliefs significantly influence his policies and politics. Perhaps of greatest significance is the power the president's endorsement adds to fundamental evangelical Christian ideas, and their widespread rate of acceptance in the Republican Party.
Political scientists have presented a detailed accounting of how the conservative element of the Republican Party and the fundamentalist evangelical Christian movements evolved, how they have advanced their respective agendas and how George Bush was selected as the deified "Prince" to lead the theocracy called Dominionism. (2) What merits exploration is why the electorate has rallied to support Dominionism and George Bush as its anointed leader. By all indication, few Americans understand the depth and breadth of the melding of Christian Fundamentalism and Conservative Republicanism.
In order to comprehend the impact Dominionism is having on U.S. domestic and foreign policy, it is necessary to examine what the movement is, how and why it developed along with its inherent dangers. Dominionism is a form of divine-right theory that pictures the seizure of earthly (temporal) power by the people of God as the only means through which the world can be rescued. (3)
It is the eschatology that Bush has imbibed; an eschatology through which he has gradually (and easily) come to see himself as an agent of God who has been called by him to 'restore the earth to God's control' a 'chosen vessel' so to speak, to bring Restoration of All Things. (4)
S. R. Shearer of Antipas Ministries, calls this delusion "Messianic leadership"--that is to say usurping the role usually ascribed to the Messiah. (5)
Dominionism seeks to reverse the liberalization of society through the last century and the long-standing separation of church and state dictated by the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution. (6)
Our founding fathers wisely left this notion behind and chose to establish a secular state, clearly setting forth its basis and philosophy of religious toleration and lack of established religion, the dominionists despair that, without a common religious authority and due to the creeping influences of liberalism and humanism, society is somehow in decay. (7)
In the early 1980s leading televangelists Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, et. al., began using the media to rally Christian followers to accept a new political religion, initially with the intent of amassing a following and infiltrating the Republican Party at all levels. (8) This political religion originally called Political Reconstructionism has also become known as Dominionism. Journalist Frederick Clarkson, who has written extensively on the subject, warned in 1994 that Dominionism "seeks to replace democracy with a theocratic elite that would govern by imposing their interpretation of Biblical law. …