In the hands of fanatics with a radical socio-political agenda, there is no more lethal weapon than religion. History is quite clear about that, and history is again repeating itself as the leaders of the Christian Right muster their well financed organizations to work toward their ultimate socio-political goal: dominionism.
In his book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Chris Hedges provided a working definition:
Dominionism is a theocratic sect with its roots in a radical Calvinism. It looks to the theocracy John Calvin implanted in Geneva, Switzerland, in the 1500s as its political model. It teaches that American Christians have been mandated by God top make America a Christian state. … Dominionism preaches that Jesus has called on Christians to build the kingdom of God in the here and now … America becomes, in this militant biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are view, quite simply, as agents of Satan. Under Christian dominionism … the 10 Commandments for the basis of our legal system, creationism and “Christian values” form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Labor unions, civil-rights laws and public schools will be abolished. [links added; the three “dominionism” links are to different reference sources]
Theocracy Watch offers extensive information about dominionism, its history and its advocates. The links in this excerpt provide a summary:
The theocratic right seeks to establish dominion, or control over society in the name of God. D. James Kennedy, Pastor of Coral Ridge Ministries, calls on his followers to exercise “godly dominion ... over every aspect ... of human society.”
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“Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors – in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”
Why do so many otherwise sane Americans send money to theofascist dominionist organizations hell bent on promoting and codifying hate and discrimination? History clearly teaches that such pathologies are forever hungry and in need of new victims. Gays and lesbians Americans are today’s targets, but new ones will be needed. Shouldn’t the message of Pastor Martin Niemöller come immediately to mind?
Perhaps the answer is as simple as “fear” – the primary weapon of religion – and the sheeple mentality it engenders and exploits in the political arena.
There are two primary players in the campaign to turn America into a despotic Christian state: James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council. Both have been identified as dominionist by Theocracy Watch. Slightly less prominent, but no less fervently dedicated to dominionist goals are Don Wildmon’s American Family Association and Louis P. Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition.
James Dobson lords over the Focus on the Family empire which, according to People for the American Way, has included eugenics proponent Albert Mohler on its Board of Directors. PFAM details the extent of Dobson’s dominion:
Finances: $137,848,520 (2004 Focus on the Family revenue); $24,988,036 (2004 Focus on the Family Action revenue)
Staff: approximately 1,300 employees
Publications: 2.3 million subscribers to ten monthly magazines. Magazine titles include: Focus on the Family, Citizen Magazine, Parental Guidance, Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. Focus on the Family also publishes a wide variety of books, tapes, films and videos.
Media: Dr. Dobson is heard daily on more than 3,400 radio facilities in North America, in 15 languages, on approximately 6,300 facilities in 164 countries. Dobson’s estimated listening audience is over 220 million people every day, including a program translation carried on all state-owned radio stations in the Republic of China. In the United States, Dobson appears on 80 television stations daily.
(For a more thorough analysis of the finances and expenditures of organizations in the Christian Right, see Funding the Culture Wars, a report prepared by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.)
Like all dominionists, Dobson has singled out gay and lesbian Americans for social ostracism and civil inequality. Fighting the so-called “homosexual agenda” –
Specifically, we want all people in the United States to enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else, unless they have forfeited them by violating the rights of others. We believe this should include some things that are, apparently, very controversial.
They include the right to serve, fight, and even die on behalf of our country in the military; the right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work; the right for teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched, or otherwise attacked; and, yes, the right to express not only love for another person but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being.
– U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, Democratic National Convention, Thursday, July 29, 2004
– has been a mainstay for FOF. They use it to scare the sheeple into sending money. And Dobson milks that fear for all it’s worth. For example, in his 2004 book Marriage Under Fire: Why We Must Win This Battle, he claimed that if gay and lesbian Americans were allowed to enter into the state-sanctioned civil union called “marriage,” the world would end. In other words, in order to ward off Armageddon, send your donations, now.
The Netherlands legalized same-sex marriage in 2001, Belgium in 2003, Spain, South Africa and Canada in 2005. At last check, these countries still exist, as does Massachusetts, and the world has not ended as the false prophet predicted.
Focus on the Family, like its dominionist allies, also oppose civil unions and domestic partnerships that grant legal recognition and economic benefits to same-sex couples. Some version of civil unions or partnerships for same-sex couples are lawful in Denmark, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungry, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, and Sweden. These countries, as well as Vermont, California, Connecticut and New Jersey, are all still there, and the world hasn’t ended as the false prophet predicted.
The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy lists the Family Research Council as one of the leading organizations sponsoring the activities of the Christian Right. FRC is headed by Tony Perkins whose handsome, smiling face belies the organization’s menacing, snarling agenda.
Family Research Council was the prime mover behind the three “Justice Sunday” events (JS, JS II, JS III). The speakers at these pep rallies for dominionism lashed out at those who believe in civil rights and civil equality for all Americans. They were dubbed “equality tyrants.”
Speakers at the Justice Sunday events also heaped praise on “persecuted” Christian politicians who fought for and supposedly embodied “Christian values”: politicians like dominionist Tom DeLay, who once proclaimed he was on a messianic mission from God to embed the “biblical worldview” into American politics.
As Rick Cohen, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, noted in his article “Nearsighted Ethics,” Tony Perkins was a DeLay supporter and had signed up as a “host committee members to the Tom DeLay salute without a blush of concern about the relationship of DeLay’s and his friends’ questionable ethics and their self-righteous pique against government oversight of their charities and foundations. Other signatories to the charity oversight protest were reported to be counted among the DeLay admirers, including Rev. Louis Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition.”
PFAW’s rundown on the FRC is also illuminating:
Membership: 455,000 members.
Finances: $10 million (2000 revenue)
State groups: 40
Publications: Washington Watch (monthly) and Family Policy (bimonthly). Ed Facts (available via fax, e-mail or internet on a weekly basis). CultureFacts (available by fax or e-mail). I.E. (Ideas & Energy) monthly newsletter provides articles on political, social, and cultural trends for high-school students. Also produces numerous issue papers.
Affiliate groups: American Renewal, Family Policy Councils
Not surprisingly, demeaning gay and lesbian Americans – their children and families – is primary among FRC’s efforts. And also not surprising are the common sources of “expertise” used by dominionists in their campaigns against civil equality.
The name of one common “expert” is discredited psychologist Paul Cameron. In his article “The Fabulist: Anti-gay researcher Paul Cameron’s falsehoods are well known… The incredible thing is the people who still cite them,” David Holthouse noted that “religious right action groups including Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition promote Cameron’s statistics on their Web sites.” Cameron’s unscientific, unethical “research” was recently in the news in relation to yet another unprofessional hoax and fraud.
Cameron has long advocated a “final solution”:
At the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference, [Paul] Cameron announced to the attendees, “Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals.” According to an interview with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Cameron was recommending the extermination option as early as 1983.
– Mark E. Pietrzyk, News-Telegraph, March 10, 1995.
Under Don Wildmon’s shrill guidance, the American Family Association launches boycotts against any company that treats its gay and lesbian employees equally or advertises in gay-oriented media. Disney, Kraft Foods, K-Mart, Sears, and Yahoo are only a few of their recent targets. Currently, AFA is hammering away at Ford Motor Company.
The AFA website continues to brag about how its boycott of Ford is hurting the company: “The AFA boycott of Ford Motor Company continues to impact its sales.” How many families – including Christian and “traditional” ones – could be adversely affecting by AFA boycotts and the destructive social bigotry they inspire? Does Wildmon and the AFA care?
As card-carrying dominionists, they just don’t give a damn. That was made clear by Rev. Wildmon in his mid-June 2006 statement:
The American Family Association says that its boycott of Ford Motor Company over the automaker’s support for LGBT issues is having an impact. “The boycott of Ford Motor Company is working! Sales of automobiles made by Ford dropped 2% in May,” AFA chair Donald E. Wildmon said in an email to supporters.
What kind of man, what kind of “Christian” would take pleasure – note Wildmon’s excited exclamation point – in hurting people and their families? Wildmon and the AFA define schadenfreude.
PFAW details the extent of AFA’s tentacles:
Membership: AFA claims over 500,000 members
Finances: $14,186,203 (2004)
Staff: About 100 employees and five full-time lawyers
State chapters: State Directors in 12 states
Funding: From 1998 to 2003, the AFA received $90,000 from 6 grants contributed by the Bill and Berniece Grewcock Foundation
Publications: AFA Journal, published monthly, with a circulation of 180,000
Radio: AFA has its own 200-station network of radio stations across the United States
Media: AFA has produced videos entitled, “Excess Access,” “It’s Not Gay,” and “Suffer the Children”
Affiliate groups: AFA Foundation, Center for Law & Policy, American Family Radio, American Family News Network’s OneNewsNow.com (formerly Agape Press), and AFA Action - the legislative action arm of the American Family Association
Affiliated Websites: ValuesVoters.com – a voter registration and education site; Center for Law & Policy Case Note (blog); OneMillionDads.com; OneMillionMoms.com; AFA Internet Filtering; NoGayMarriage.com; and BoycottFord.com among others.
Not surprisingly, AFA’s “ex-gay” video It’s Not Gay has been the object legal action… for fraud.
Dobson uses his soft-spoken, down-home grandfatherly persona to advocate theofascism. Perkins relies on his handsome face and inviting smile. Wildmon uses on self-righteous boycotts. The Traditional Values Coalition and its uber-homophobic chairman Louis P. Sheldon vent raw, immoral, fanatical hate in their campaigns. This image from tidmus.com – occasioned by the publication of Sheldon’s latest book – tells the tale:
PFAW lists the Traditional Values Coalition’s 2004 revenue at $6,389,448. The TVC claims to represent 43,000 churches nationwide, but in reality the organization “appears to consist mostly of the Rev. Lou Sheldon and his daughter Andrea Sheldon Lafferty. Both are mainstays on the conservative circuit, though their reputation has been damaged by revelations that Lou Sheldon took money from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to help kill an anti-gambling bill that would have hurt one of Abramoff’s clients [eLottery].
“Lucky Louie” Sheldon and the TVC were stridently campaigning against Internet gambling at the time.
For the politically motivated leaders of the radical Christian Right, dominionism is a convenient credo to legitimate their quest for a hegemonic theofascist America where their pathological need to hate and hurt others would have free reign.
Religious fanatics are, by definition, dangerous. Armed religious fanatics are even more so. And armed is exactly what America’s Christian fundamentalists are being urged to be. In his book Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self Defense, Charl van Wyk “makes a biblical, Christian case for individuals arming themselves with guns.” From self-defense to aggression is a small step in this context.
It was wise – and prophetic – that school officials in Burlington, N.J. staged a “hostage situation” drill in which the terrorists were radical fundamentalist Christians of the dominionist kind.
An April 8, 2007 World Net Daily article criticized the Burlington schools district’s drill as “paranoia over biblical beliefs.” WND’s founder, editor, and CEO recently advocated religion-based violence of biblical (and likely nuclear) proportions:
Israel should retake control of the Temple Mount and the rest of Jerusalem and never let go again under any circumstances. Further, it should retake control of the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria and annex the Golan Heights. All of this territory should be proclaimed the eternal state of Israel. [link added]
The April 8, 2007 WND article also reported on a new website set up in response to the Burlington school district’s drill: “THE NEW CRUSADERS: WE’RE TAKING OVER THE WORLD FOR JESUS.”
The “New Crusaders” began with
Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye! The New Crusaders call on all Christians and churches to begin implementation of the ten planks of the following Agenda. Our goal is nothing short of taking over the United States of America and then the entire world.
PREAMBLE: We call for immediate unification of church and state. The church and government must function as a homogenous unit if victory is to be achieved. This would result in the gradual transition of the United States from a constitutional republic to a Christian monarchy. Democracy and juries have proven to be far too dangerous. We advocate the immediate replacement of the current American flag with the Christian flag.
Their ten “planks” – or commandments – begin with “We call on all churches to immediately replace Sunday schools and catechism classes with firearms training” and, of course, include “Immediate construction must begin on nationwide quarantine centers for homosexuals. The internment process would need to begin as soon as possible. If a quarantine center is not available, church gymnasiums can be converted.”
The website concludes with a disclaimer: “Attention FBI, Homeland Security, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Americans United, CAIR, Amnesty International, NOW, and the Stonewall Union – this website is satire…”
Recall the words of D. James Kennedy at the 2005 Reclaiming America for Christ conference: “Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors – in short, over every aspect and institution of human society” [italics added].
The New Crusaders’ “About Us” fits perfectly with dominionists’ rhetoric and goals. Indeed, it seems the next “logical” step:
After reading [about the Burlington drill], we asked ourselves the question why not formulate a more militant strategy for Christians to take over the country and in fact the world? The Great Commission of Jesus to teach and baptize the nations was a nice idea, but desperate times call for desperate measures. This nice-guy strategy has quite frankly failed, and now is the time for action. Christians have tolerated second-class treatment for too long! Therefore we call on all Christians in American to unite under our organization, The New Crusaders.
The Crusaders’ website also included this:
PLEASE SUPPORT THE NEW CRUSADERS:
We need your finances to start implentation! [sic] We will soon have a donation page setup to receive contributions via major credit card and Paypal. The New Crusaders is a 501c3 tax-exempt organization, all donations all tax-deductible.
You have to wonder how many are eagerly awaiting that “donation page”…
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