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The New Religious Freedom

TimeWatch Editorial
November 28, 2016

Frederick Clarkson , on February 14, 2016 , published an article on the Political Research Associates website entitled “Dominionism is the New Religious Freedom.” In the Free Encyclopedia, Frederick Clarkson is described as an American journalist and public speaker in the fields of politics and religion . He is the author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, published in 1997; editor of Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America, published in 2008; and co-author of Challenging the Christian Right: The Activist’s Handbook. Published in1992, for which he and his co-author were named among the "Media Heroes of 1992" by the Institute for Alternative Journalism. They were described as "especially brave at taking on powerful institutions and persistent about getting stories out...journalists and activists who persevere in fighting censorship and protecting the First Amendment," and "understanding the Christian Right's recent strategy of stealth politics early on, and or doggedly tracking its activities across the U.S." His biography continues to describe him as the publisher of articles with, Ms. Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, and other publications. As of 2008, he served on the advisory board of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, an organization dedicated to opposing the religious right; and on the editorial boards of The Public Eye and In These Times magazines.

It is important that you understand his background and his orientation, so that you might understand that he has been fighting this battle for some time. His article as mentioned above, “Dominionism is the New Religious Freedom” reveals a clarity of vision concerning the forces at work today in the project to transform this nation and the world. Here is his opening paragraph.

“Historians may someday see the 2016 election season as the turning point in how our society understands the Dominionists movement that is seeking to recast society in its own image.  The herald of this new understanding is—ironically, as I will discuss below—a Washington Post commentary by historian John Fea, titled:  “Ted Cruz’s campaign is fueled by a dominionist vision for America.”  The Post’s publication of Fea’s piece follows years of both scholarly and journalistic tip-toeing around this elephant on the table of American public life – a dynamic modern theocratic religious and political movement that prior conventional wisdom notwithstanding is not fringe.” Frederick Clarkson , “Dominionism is the New Religious Freedom,” Political Research Associates, February 14, 2016 .

John Fea’s article identifies the varied elements of the Evangelical, Dominionists, and Reconstructionist far right Christians. John Fea is Professor and Chair of Early America; history pedagogy at Messiah College. Their website describes them as a nationally ranked private Christian college with a reputation for successfully integrating rigorous academics and Christian faith into all of our academic programs. Messiah’s faculty are outstanding teachers, scholars and researchers who will mentor and advise you as you expand your possibilities. Notice how John Fea puts it in his article entitled:  “Ted Cruz’s campaign is fueled by a dominionist vision for America.”

“Now that Ted Cruz has an Iowa victory under his belt, it is time to take a deeper look at his Christian approach to politics. What is his real vision for America? Cruz likes to talk about “taking back” or “reclaiming” the United States. What does he mean by this? Many Americans — Christian or otherwise — may find the answers to these questions disturbing. Cruz’s shoe leather campaign in Iowa targeted the state’s large number of evangelical Christians. But not all evangelicals are the same. Donald Trump appeals mostly to those connected with the Christian prosperity movement, a form of evangelicalism that celebrates the accumulation of wealth as a sign of God’s blessing. Marco Rubio appeals to suburban, educated, middle- and upper-middle-class evangelicals. These evangelicals normally avoid the Pentecostal prayer meetings of the prosperity crowd and change the channel when televangelists show up on their big screens. Cruz resonates with the evangelical culture warriors. He mixes what New York Times columnist David Brooks describes as political “brutalism” with a belief that he is engaged in a fight with the devil for the soul of the nation. It is only a matter of time before Cruz assumes the role of the Old Testament prophet Elijah and tries to cast down fire from heaven to destroy the “prophets of Baal” who oppose his campaign.” , “Ted Cruz’s campaign is fueled by a Dominionist vision for America,” The Washington Post, February 4, 2016

Frederick Clarkson continues his article by explaining what Dominionism is, and its origins.

“The term “Dominionism” was first popularized in the 1990s by researchers, including Chip Berlet, scholar Sara Diamond, and myself, who needed a term to describe the political aspirations of Christian Rightists who believed that they have a biblical mandate to control all earthly institutions –including government – until the second coming of Jesus. But the idea of conservative Christians gaining political power sufficient to take dominion over society predated our use of the term by decades.” Frederick Clarkson , “Dominionism is the New Religious Freedom,” Political Research Associates, February 14, 2016.

Clarkson continues his description of the belief system, revealing the ultimate goal of the organizations involved. The most revealing element of his article is the fact that he clearly recognizes the danger of the objectives of Dominionism and is prepared to identify its error. He continues:

“The two main schools of Dominionist thought include Christian Reconstructionism , founded by the late R.J. Rushdoony, which advances the idea not only of the need for Christians (of the right sort) to dominate society, but institute and apply Old Testament “Biblical Law.” The other, closely related form of Dominionism is advocated by the Pentecostal New Apostolic Reformation, which exuberantly advocates for Christians to “reclaim the seven mountains of culture”: government, religion, media, family, business, education, and arts and entertainment.” Frederick Clarkson , “Dominionism is the New Religious Freedom,” Political Research Associates, February 14, 2016.

There are many who are completely unaware of the powerful influence this kind of thinking will ultimately have upon the United States and the world. As we shall see in our future treatment of this matter, we are not far from this revelation.

Cameron A. Bowen