The New Enemy?

Ken AshfordGodstuffLeave a Comment

Crusades Rolling Stone has a truly frightening article on a truly frightening movement:

It’s February, and 900 of America’s staunchest Christian fundamentalists have gathered in Fort Lauderdale to look back on what they accomplished in last year’s election — and to plan what’s next…But despite their unprecedented power, fundamentalists still see themselves as a persecuted minority, waging a holy war against the godless forces of secularism. To rouse themselves, they kick off the festivities with "Soldiers of the Cross, Arise," the bloodthirstiest tune in all of Christendom: "Seize your armor, gird it on/Now the battle will be won/Soon, your enemies all slain/Crowns of glory you shall gain."

Meet the Dominionists — biblical literalists who believe God has called them to take over the U.S. government. As the far-right wing of the evangelical movement, Dominionists are pressing an agenda that makes Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America look like the Communist Manifesto. They want to rewrite schoolbooks to reflect a Christian version of American history, pack the nation’s courts with judges who follow Old Testament law, post the Ten Commandments in every courthouse and make it a felony for gay men to have sex and women to have abortions. In Florida, when the courts ordered Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube removed, it was the Dominionists who organized round-the-clock protests and issued a fiery call for Gov. Jeb Bush to defy the law and take Schiavo into state custody. Their ultimate goal is to plant the seeds of a "faith-based" government that will endure far longer than Bush’s presidency — all the way until Jesus comes back.

The godfather of the Dominionists is D. James Kennedy, the most influential evangelical you’ve never heard of. A former Arthur Murray dance instructor, he launched his Florida ministry in 1959, when most evangelicals still followed Billy Graham’s gospel of nonpartisan soul-saving. Kennedy built Coral Ridge Ministries into a $37-million-a-year empire, with a TV-and-radio audience of 3 million, by preaching that it was time to save America — not soul by soul but election by election. After helping found the Moral Majority in 1979, Kennedy became a five-star general in the Christian army. Bush sought his blessing before running for president — and continues to consult top Dominionists on matters of federal policy.

"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost," Kennedy says. "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."

It helps that Dominionists have a direct line to the White House: The Rev. Richard Land, top lobbyist for the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, enjoys a weekly conference call with top Bush advisers including Karl Rove. "We’ve got the Holy Spirit’s wind at our backs!" Land declares in an arm-waving, red-faced speech. He takes particular aim at the threat posed by John Lennon, denouncing "Imagine" as a "secular anthem" that envisions a future of "clone plantations, child sacrifice, legalized polygamy and hard-core porn."

The Dominionists are also stepping up efforts to turn public schools into forums for evangelism. In a landmark case, the Alliance Defense Fund is suing a California school district that threatened to dismiss a born-again teacher who was evangelizing fifth-graders. In the conference’s opening ceremony, the Dominionists recite an oath they dream of hearing in every classroom: "I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands. One Savior, crucified, risen and coming again, with life and liberty for all who believe."

Not to worry, says Paul Weldman at The Gadflyer:

Please, my secular friends, don’t think that most Christians believe this stuff. The dominant trend in Christianity today is the Purpose-Driven, super-casual megachurch, where you can grab a latte on your way in, it’s OK if you wear shorts to Sunday service, and the sermon is more Oprah Winfrey than Oral Roberts. Take in a few minutes of a sermon by Joel Osteen, the hottest young pastor on the scene (just flick around at night at the top end of your cable channels – you’ll run into him), and you begin to think that accepting Jesus isn’t so much about eternal life and ultimate truth, but more about getting along with your spouse, being effective and happy in your job, and being smart with your money.

Paul, I agree that most Christians are not as fanatical and dangerous as the Dominionists.  That is because most Christians understand about humility and free will, and how government imposition of faith not only goes against the Constitution, but it goes against the tenets of Christianity as well.

The problem is that the fundamentalist Christian movement is well-financed and very vocal.  Look how much free press they got in the Schiavo matter, even though most of the country — including most Christians — disagreed with them.  And what happens is that you almost never hear about the religious left — you know, people who think Jesus was about helping the poor (instead of giving tax cuts to the rich) and not killing people (instead of going to war).

So, Pat — the Dominionists, traitors not only to the Gospel but to the founding principles of this country, must be stopped.  Not because I have a problem with the views they hold; but because they have a problem with the views everybody else holds.  Hell, they admit it.  If it were up to them, nobody would be a free thinker.  And when you remove the ability to think freely, you remove the esseence of what it is to be free.