You heard it at the Daily Beast first:
With Tim Pawlenty out of the presidential race, it is now fairly clear that the GOP candidate will either be Mitt Romney or someone who makes George W. Bush look like Tom Paine. Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional.
Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult. Most writers, myself included, who explore it have been called paranoid. In a contemptuous 2006 First Things review of several books, including Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy, and my own Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote, “the fear of theocracy has become a defining panic of the Bush era.”
Now, however, we have the most theocratic Republican field in American history, and suddenly, the concept of Dominionism is reaching mainstream audiences. Writing about Bachmann in The New Yorker this month, Ryan Lizza spent several paragraphs explaining how the premise fit into the Minnesota congresswoman’s intellectual and theological development. And a recent Texas Observer cover story on Rick Perry examined his relationship with the New Apostolic Reformation, a Dominionist variant of Pentecostalism that coalesced about a decade ago. “[W]hat makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government,” wrote Forrest Wilder. Its members “believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take ‘dominion’ over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the ‘Seven Mountains’ of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world.”
In many ways, Dominionism is more a political phenomenon than a theological one. It cuts across Christian denominations, from stern, austere sects to the signs-and-wonders culture of modern megachurches. Think of it like political Islamism, which shapes the activism of a number of antagonistic fundamentalist movements, from Sunni Wahabis in the Arab world to Shiite fundamentalists in Iran.
LOL. You know what tells me this is a bunch of over-sensationalized garbage? This: If Bachmann and Perry really were proponents of a a so-called Christian “political Islamism”, liberals like the ones who write for the Daily Beast would embrace it with open arms. After all, it’s liberals who’ve been telling us since 9-11 that we should be “tolerant” of Islam, right? You betcha.
Newsbusters’ Ken Shepherd points out that the writer – Michelle Goldberg – needs to get a clue … in more ways than one:
Goldberg set about trying to tar Bachmann and Perry by association with Dominionists, but in doing so, Goldberg exposed some of her ignorance about religious matters:
The Christian Reconstructionists tend to be skeptical of Pentecostalism, with its magic, prophesies, speaking in tongues, and wild ecstasies…
Pentecostalism has “magic”?! That would be news to millions of Pentecostals who strongly oppose any magic arts as counterfeit or demonic spiritual activity.
Apparently Ken hasn’t gotten the memo that the Daily Beast, home to Meghan McCain – among other esteemed and distinguished luminaries, is The Place to Go when it comes to insightful religious commentary …
Furthermore, what’s another good reason to consider this nothing more than a cheap, bigoted hitpiece against religious conservatives? The fact that the Daily Beast was co-founded by Tina Brown. The Daily Beast and Newsweek are now The Newsweek Daily Beast Company. Tina Brown is the editor-in-chief of both of them. Which means Tina Brown is responsible for what goes on the cover of Newsweek, like the “Queen of Rage” cover we saw last week which deliberately featured a picture of Congresswoman and Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann looking like a wild-eyed crazy woman. The Boston Globe’s Alan Wirzbicki writes of Brown:
If Brown’s chosen role is to outrage, she succeeded with the Bachmann cover. Right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin lambasted the magazine for “bottom-of-of-the-barrel moonbat photo cliches about conservative female public figures.” Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, called the cover sexist, saying it would never have been done to a man.
Brown has no problem using the sisterhood to reclaim the limelight she once commanded as editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.
As poynter.org recently pointed out, since Brown became editor, most Newsweek covers now feature women. She started with a decorously-dressed Hillary Clinton gazing out over the headline: “Hillary’s War.” Then she urged readers to “Meet America’s Next Billionaires” — twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen twins. A flattering take on “Kate the Great” set everyone up for this subsequent cover hullabaloo: Through the power of Photoshop, Brown imagined Princess Diana at 50 striding confidently next to her daughter-in-law, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
Creepy or provocative? Who cares, if it’s buzz you’re after. But, if readers are what Newsweek is after, Brown’s mission is still incomplete. According to the New York Times, Newsweek’s overall circulation fell 5 percent to just over 1.5 million since Brown took over. Sales of single issues have picked up, lending some crediblity to the cover shock strategy she is obviously embracing.
And apparently “shock covers” aren’t the only type of “shock” journalism Brown is embracing, as evidenced by the Daily Beast piece.
It’s funny how, in the nearly 30 years that Gov. Perry has been an elected official in one capacity or the other that the state of Texas has not become the Theocratic Bastion of America, isn’t it? Also funny is how Rep. Bachmann, who has served as an elected official since the year 2000, hasn’t used her various elected positions to push a theocratic agenda in either the Minnesota state legislature or the United States House. You’d think both of these savvy politicos who apparently are fanatical Christians would have figured out by now how to use their respective positions in government to bend their respective constituencies to their religious will via the form of “political Islamism” Michelle Goldberg suggests they practice, “stealthily” or otherwise.
Hate to say it, but Toldjah So. Be on the lookout for more of this “acceptable” mainstream/liberal opinion media anti-Christian bigotry as we get closer to GOP primary time. It’ll get even worse if Bachmann or Perry win the nomination, so gird your loins – and be prepared to explain to the casual political observer (or even the clueless ones, if you have the patience) how hit pieces like this one are nothing more than poisonous hyped-up scare tactics with not much truth to them, designed to smear the names of Christian conservative candidates in a way that would NEVER be acceptable were it to be a similar piece about an actual radical religion: Islam.