The March of Christian Dominionism 3: How Christian Dominionists Combat Reality
Or “Take your stinking evolution off my kids you damn, dirty liberal!”
So how is the Christian Dominionist movement different than the regular old Religious Right? On the surface they seem pretty much identical: both pursue social politics, both proclaim that family values are of prime importance, both encourage divisive bigotry of one form or another and both raise millions by appealing to the baser instincts of their followers. It is not easy to discern where they separate because Dominionists are not very vocal about their deeper plans for the country with outsiders.
The Religious Right is many things, but they do not actively work towards the destruction and replacement of the government with a Theocracy. Of course, this is exactly what Christian Dominionists want and the Religious Right is complicit in their drive to obtain it. These last two sentences might seem to be actively at odds with one another. They are not. The Religious Right is more than willing to make nice with groups they would ordinarily despise to further their agenda. One need look no further than the pro-Israel stance of the GOP for evidence of this. The vigor with which the Right defends Israel is a wonder to behold until you realize that the whole point of supporting Israel is so that the Israelis can rebuild the temple of Solomon and fulfill one of the key requirements of the end time prophecies. By the way, these prophecies also clearly state that most of the Jewish race will be exterminated at that time. I’m guessing the Religious Right doesn’t discuss that part too much with the Israelis.
In any event, Christian Dominionism is very much like the dreaded threat of “creeping Sharia” that has so many on the Right supposedly scared silly. A way of life that is antithetical to a secular democracy is slowly being enacted throughout the country. We shouldn’t even give a second glance to the “threat” of Sharia in this country when a much clearer and more present danger is among us. This is not to say that there aren’t people who would love to see Sharia law implemented in the United States. There certainly are. They simply don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it happen. Even in the dreaded Dearborn, Michigan. These religious fanatics do, however, make an excellent boogeyman for all manner of unscrupulous people. To the Dominionist, it is a way of forcing people to make a false “choice”: Will you allow Sharia to overrun the country or will you embrace God’s Law like all good Christians do?
This is, of course, ridiculous. One simply needs only embrace the Constitution to ward off the eeeeevils of Sharia. That doesn’t work well for Christian Dominionists for reasons that should be self-evident at this point. The Constitution explicitly states that religion and government are not to be mixed, and so it has become a Crusade among Dominionists to rewrite history. This is, perhaps, the single most dangerous aspect of their agenda, the wholesale erasure and replacement of reality and history with a more, shall we say, divine interpretation.
There are a number of reasons history and, to an almost equal extent, science are a threat to the “Christian” future. History tells us who we are and where we came from. George Orwell was entirely too aware of the need tyrants have to control over this information. In his seminal work, “1984,” Orwell called the apparatus put in place to accomplish this task the “Ministry of Truth.” They were in charge of making sure “history” reflected whatever current day agenda was in effect. With a push of a button, a war that had been raging for years with one enemy becomes a war that had been raging for all that same time with a completely different one. The State must be infallible.
In the same fashion, after centuries of understanding the First Amendment, specifically the Establishment Clause, of the Constitution in a very specific manner based on the words and intent of the founding Fathers, there are now questions. Despite numerous examples of most of the Fathers being Deists (not ascribing to a particular organized religion or even, necessarily, a supernatural force) or even actively derisive of Christianity, Dominionists insist that not only was the country founded on Judeo-Christian principles but that the Constitution is expressly a religious document despite it not containing a single word to that effect.
Once sufficient doubt is cast upon the secular nature of our country’s founding document, everything and anything becomes malleable. Please note that I use the word “sufficient” instead of “legitimate.” “Legitimate” would mean that there is a real debate over the facts. There is not. We have handwritten letters that explicitly state the original intent (there’s a reason Texas is trying to remove Jefferson from history text books) and they leave no room for doubt about their intent towards government and religion. But this is beside the point. Dominionists are more than happy to tell their flock whatever they want, secure in the knowledge that they will not question. To question is to lack faith. Ignorance is strength.
This is the genius of politicized religion. Once a person is a true “believer,” regardless of whether they actually believe or are too terrified of expulsion to admit they do not, they will consequently accept any lie they are fed. This serves the dual purpose of making any claim about how the country should be run seem perfectly normal and also of further isolating the flock: Of course the United States should be run according to Biblical law, the Constitution was divinely inspired, and who could possibly doubt that? Anyone that says otherwise is a liar and probably an atheist Communist Marxist unpatriotic traitor. It doesn’t matter how much evidence they provide or how solid their argument.
They MUST be lying.
This artificial schizophrenia extends to the realm of science as well. I say “artificial schizophrenia” because, in the phantasmagorical world of the Dominionist, everyday life is completely divorced from empirical reality. Miracles and prayer will solve all problems and if your particular problem is not solved in this way, the fault lies with your lack of faith. Again, some of the less religiously inclined are snickering that all religious people think this way. Don’t make me hit you with a rolled up newspaper! Those thoroughly ensnared in the corrupt mythology of Dominionism have no choice but to believe that every aspect of their life is being directly controlled. Cause and effect are as illusory as free will.
Now is when the massive assaults on science and education come into play. I’ve written about this before as well (Why do conservatives hate science so much? Or “How I learned not to learn and trust my beer gut instead”) but it bears a re-examination in the light of Dominionism. Science is the natural enemy of Fundamentalism and, by extension, Dominionism. Science encourages critical thinking and free inquiry, concepts that are pure anathema to a totalitarian religious philosophy. Science also reduces mankind from a divine creature, put on the earth to rule, to a not exactly random result of natural processes. We’re still the top of the food chain but only due to our unique and innate intellect, not because we were “meant” to be.
Without the divine origins of man, Dominionism loses much of its self-granted authority. If the Bible is not literally true, then religion becomes merely a guide for living a moral life and not the source of all morality and knowledge as Dominionists claim. To combat this, there has been a war waged against science in general and public education in specific for decades.
As I’ve said before, an uneducated population is far easier to manipulate and control. It’s hard to think of how to make the world a better place when you don’t know HOW to think. When you’ve been raised to believe that there is ALWAYS a Biblical answer to every question, it becomes so easy to dismiss actual experts and only listen to the side that says what you want to hear. It doesn’t matter that the religious argument can provide no solid evidence or facts, you don’t know how to judge for yourself anyway. This is the point of the Right Wing’s war on education and it’s all about defunding schools and colleges.
The Right wants to divert tax dollars to for-profit charter schools that have not proven to be any more effective than public schools (and that are far less accountable). Not only does this starve public schools of vital funds, but it enables the Right to complain how terrible public education is. It’s an awesome racket: make schools dysfunctional by underpaying teachers and ensuring the schools are run down and then use this dysfunction as proof that public education is unworkable.
The assault on colleges is different. The goal here is to raise tuitions so high that the choice is either to not go at all or spend the next 20 years paying off loans. Why do you think Republicans howled in pain when Obama did away with subsidized loans and cut out the extremely unnecessary middle man? It was a one-two punch for the Right. Not only did banks lose billions in revenue they did nothing to earn, it made school loans less painful for those who need it the most. Notice that this was not important enough to make any real news. Most of you reading this didn’t even know it was part of the Health Care Reform package. Obama tacked it on so the GOP couldn’t block it. Yet, you know all about Anthony Weiner’s weiner. This should tell you something about the state of the country.
So, to wit: make public schools function as poorly as possible, especially in low income areas. Make college too expensive for most to obtain a degree and then use the resulting failure to justify further cuts and convince people that home schooling is the best option. When you break the system of public education, the public will look elsewhere to educate their children and home schooling is the “answer.”
Home schooling is a rapidly expanding movement among the Religious Right. And it is a huge part of their war on science and history. Over one million children are currently being educated outside of the public school system; many of them being indoctrinated into the world of religious fanaticism. Do I sound alarmist? How does an entire generation raised to believe “God said it. I believe it. That settles it” sound to you? Does that sound like a group of people capable of objectively assessing the challenges facing the country and the world? Do you think they will be capable of overcoming their conditioning to embrace any solution that is not fully “Christian?” Neither do I.
This kind of parallel education has reached frightening heights as (former) candidates like Michele Bachmann, and maybe-maybe-not-but-who-can-really-tell-if-she’s-running Sarah Palin spit out gems like ““The very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States,” and “He who warned uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh by ringing those bells…” on a regular basis. Mike Huckabee, another powerful voice in conservative politics even has his own cartoon series for home schooled children. In it, a group of plucky time travelling kids can be found saying “What we see and hear isn’t always the same as what we read in books or see on TV. So what? We know the truth and that’s good enough for us!”
God said it. I believe it. That settles it!
So we have an “army” of Christian Soldiers whose main weapons will be pure ignorance, rigid, uncritical thought and blind obedience. Dominionists have built an entire culture that is separated from the rest of the world by a shield of dogma. They know how to insinuate themselves into the government at some of the highest positions and they know how to influence elections to their benefit. They have massive financial backing from both their followers as well as corporations that may not be interested in Dominionists’ social agenda but are very supportive of their economic goals.
But how will you know if a particular policy from the GOP is simple conservative greed or something darker and more sinister? How will you recognize the Dominionist agenda? That’s the question I will attempt to answer in last part of this series of liberal slander: How Dominionists are trying to undermine our country Or “So THAT’S why the GOP’s been doing that!!”
Edited by Sherri Yarbrough