Thirty years from now, a protestor stands alone on a corner. She is visibly pregnant. Her sign, written in blood red marker, says “I’m carrying my rapist’s baby! Thanks a lot, Jesus!” She has only been there for five minutes but has been called “slut” and “whore” by several passersby. One elderly woman stops long enough to tell her she deserved to be raped for not loving Jesus enough. Others look at her with sad eyes but quickly avert their gaze lest one of their neighbors notice.
Finally the police arrive to take the woman into custody. She has not spoken a word. She has no bullhorn. She has not accosted a single person on the street. Yet she is still arrested by men who barely contain their contempt for her. She has broken no laws that we would recognize but still, she is roughly handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser. Of course, they take great care not to harm the baby she is carrying; the bruises she’ll have later won’t be anywhere near life-threatening. In this, she is lucky to be pregnant; others do not fare as well.
She is not read her rights because she has none. She is a blasphemer against the Lord and has been stripped of all legal protections. Her pregnancy will ensure that she survives long enough to perhaps repent and beg forgiveness. If not, she will be stoned to death in a public square by devout followers. Her child will be raised by the State to be a patriotic, loyal and, above all, God fearing citizen.
This may seem like a scenario out of a bad science fiction film but you would be wrong. This is what the world should be according to Christian Dominionism.
What is Christian Dominionism? It’s exactly what it sounds like: a world dominated by Christianity. Not just under the control of Christianity but completely and utterly dominated by it. According to Dominionists, every aspect of our lives is subject to the strictures of the Bible. Our personal lives and social lives must be lived in accordance with the word of God. Economics, politics, science, the arts and the law are all to be placed under the auspices of Christianity. It is, in essence, exactly what people claim Sharia law is. Minus Islam.
Such a system is, by its very nature, a totalitarian one. There can be no freedom of expression. There can be no free press. There can be no freedoms of any kind except the freedom to obey the Word. This is a very appealing concept to those interested in power for its own sake. Such a concentration of power would be free of morality, ethics, decency or accountability of any kind. The ability to shape the world at will is very alluring and the perversion of religion is a powerful tool to reach that goal.
At the same time, to those without power or hope, the idea of surrendering to such total control is more than a soothing balm; it is something to be craved. The world remains cold and indifferent to the struggles and pain we all go through. Self-direction can be hard and messy. Deciding what is right and what is wrong by relying on your own moral compass can be exhausting. In an environment where a steady diet of pious, theocratic messaging can make it seem a virtue to let someone else tell you how to live and what to believe it is easy to surrender control. At that point, the absolute moral certainty of Dominionists becomes an anesthetic for the confusion and doubt of the everyday world. Is it any wonder the desperate seek it like an oasis in the desert?
Let us clear up two possible misconceptions; while I am an atheist, this article is not an “ATTACK ON CHRISTIANITY!!” as many on the Right, and no small amount on the Left, will claim. This is NOT about religion at all, that is, beyond its use as a means to an end. Dominionists do not care about the teachings of Jesus. They care about the control those teachings will provide over the desperate, the lost and the wounded. Their cries of persecution by evil liberal God-hating heathens like me are camouflage. By wrapping themselves in the trappings of piety, they deflect, successfully if you allow it, any direct critique of their agenda.
This creates an obstacle on both ends of the political spectrum. First, while Dominionists are always found among conservatives, not all conservatives are even remotely Dominionists. The problem is that many on the Right use religion in much the same way: as a prop to claim a moral high ground they have laughably failed to reach. This makes it difficult for Right Wing opportunists to separate themselves from the Christian Dominionism movement. In fact, it is nigh impossible to reveal Dominionists for the power hungry hypocrites they are without leaving themselves open to the very same charge. How does the wolf in sheep’s clothing denounce the other wolf hunting the same flock and stay hidden?
On the other hand, the Left does what is ALWAYS does: refuse to make judgments. Oh sure, they’ll cluck their tongues and shake their heads but they won’t meet the threat because they are afraid of being accused of secularism or not being “tolerant” of diverse viewpoints. Excuse me, but that is load of bull puckey! Should we “tolerate” the Taliban? Or Eugenicists? Better yet, WHY should we “tolerate” a group that seeks to install a theocracy where democracy now flourishes? It is madness to think otherwise but that is exactly what liberals do. Terrified of offending someone, somewhere, many stand impotently by and wring their hands when faced with anything that falsely cloaks itself in piety.
Of course, we’re not ALL afraid of our shadow. Some of us are proud to be filthy liberal scum and we don’t give a sack of beans about hurting someone’s feelings. Sometimes it really is OK to yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. Particularly when the theater really is on fire!
The other most likely misconception is that this is a full on assault against the Right. Well, yes and no. Don’t get me wrong, I despise the Right Wing of this country and take pretty much every opportunity to knock the GOP as the greedy, selfish, corporate whores that they are, but this is less about the conservative movement than it is about a specific subset of it. You could write an entire book about how much you hate Catholics or Mormons and still not have anything negative to say about Christianity itself. In fact, Christians do this all the time. Dominionists, however, naturally gravitate to the Right because, among other things, that is where the anger and fear is. Christian Dominionism relies heavily on these two emotions to attract, shape and, ultimately, control their followers.
You may be thinking that such a small, radical group (and they are a small group in comparison to the overall conservative movement) would be marginalized and ineffective. Not a threat at all. Yet, somehow, in 2004, seven of the Bush White House’s interns were students from Patrick Henry College. Sound like a small number? It sure does! Until you consider the total number of interns was 100 and they can be picked from any of the thousands of colleges in the country. Also consider that Patrick Henry College accepts less than 100 students per year and specifically caters to homeschooled evangelicals. Suddenly, seven percent seems to be a remarkably high number for a college you’ve never heard of with such an incredibly small student body. Just to make you more uneasy, over twenty conservative Congressmen have had one or more Patrick Henry interns on their staff. And here’s the icing on the spooky cake: Patrick Henry College was only founded in 2000! So many interns attached to high powered conservatives is quite the achievement in so short a time.
In the same vein, caucuses are flooded with the furthest of the Far Right Wing ideologues. This forces would-be Republican candidates to veer wildly to the Right, usually on social issues, in order to even be nominated. This, in turn, drags the entire GOP to the right, not always willingly. We’ve seen a sharply accelerated version of this with the Tea Party but Dominionists have been at it much longer. You may recall the days when Jerry Falwell and his so-called “Moral Majority” exerted a tremendous amount of influence despite being, in reality, a small, widely dispersed group that merely made a lot of noise.
This is how a small, but highly organized and extremely well-funded, group of fringe radicals can control the entire process. Put the right pressure on the right spot at the right time and you elect Congressmen and women who do not believe in science and wholeheartedly support turning the country into one nation under a very specific God.