America doesn’t need a Christian ayatollah


For decades, reference was made to the Christian right and its political influence in the Republican Party. Although she is often associated with the anti-abortion movement, reducing her agenda to this one issue is a mistake. Their goal is nothing less than the replacement of constitutional law in favor of biblical law.

The idea of ​​replacing or directing all laws and other facets of society under a single Christian focus is advocated by a movement called Dominionism. It is sometimes referred to as Seven Mountain Dominionism because it seeks to control family, education, religion, media, entertainment, business, and government with fundamentalist Christian ideas and doctrinal requirements.

At the root of this movement is the work of RJ Rushdoony (1916-2001), who passed on the idea of ​​Christian Reconstructionism and provided its biblical rationale for political action throughout American society. His work began to encourage others to move from the pulpit to the public square, and by the 1980s the movement had taken root firmly within the Republican Party and was recognized by none other than Ronald Reagan.

Although the Catholic Church has long had veteran members who have sought influence on political discourse, known as Catholic Integralists, Dominionism is primarily a Protestant movement that has found common cause with Calvinists and Pentecostals and others. In her effort to dissolve denominations with a single effort, she created the New Apostolic Reformation to coordinate and mobilize Dominionist efforts. It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump sought her support in 2016 when he was running for president.

There is not enough space in this column to describe all aspects of Dominionism and its ever-growing influence on American politics. Nor can a Protestant denomination be used as a basis for Dominionism’s fundamentalism, as there are divisions over ideas related to the Second Coming. But there are some core aspects that can be seen.

Dominionism believes that the United States is and should be a Christian nation, with no tolerance for other religions or beliefs; that biblical law based on the Ten Commandments is the sole basis for all law; and that the Constitution should be interpreted solely on that basis. Importantly, proponents believe the United States should be a theocracy, also governed by religious leaders rather than popularly elected leaders.

An example of this type of government is Iran with its ruling ayatollah. And a dive into the beliefs of Dominionism reveals a contempt for democracy in favor of minority rule by Christian leaders. In summary, the Dominionism movement would replace your voice with its leaders’ interpretation of fundamentalist Christian teaching as applied to law and politics.

If that seems a little far-fetched, the following politicians favor Dominionism at the core of what they do: Michelle Bachman, Ted Cruz, Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin. And there are more right-wing politicians and preachers who are heavily influenced by, or at the center of, Dominionism.

One area where Dominionism has been very visible is in education. The explosion of home schooling and private Christian schools is evident. Hillsdale College has grown in influence by creating Christian curricula that are used as the basis of instruction in conservative states, while churning out teachers to indoctrinate students in Christian nationalism on campuses across the country.

Under the guise of “parental rights,” this outright anti-gay effort reduces educational vitality and effectiveness by whitewashing slavery, banning books, and redirecting teachers to speak only with accepted forms of Christian nationalism. And those who resist this hard hand of Christian fundamentalism are accused of denying “religious liberty” to those who would impose their will on government, education, business and American life.

What we are witnessing from the United States Supreme Court is the coming of Dominionism made into law. What pro-life individuals have often failed to appreciate is that when a particular religious tenet becomes law, the door is opened to more and more theocratic decisions that threaten the very foundations of democracy. That is why the separation of church and state was and is the key to continuing the history of our country as the largest democracy in the world.

Understand what has been unleashed by the Christian right and ask yourself whether you will vote to save democracy or, like Iran, let our country fall into theocracy. Ask yourself if those who would use their church as a political platform are still entitled to an exemption from paying income tax.

The United States does not need a Christian ayatollah, but the danger of that happening is more real than you have led to believe.

Robert Schwaninger lives in Alton and can be reached at [email protected]


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