Writing about the Dominionist reach in America is challenging – let alone referencing acts on foreign soil such as the Norway slaughter. We are seeing the spin by those like Laura Ingraham and her FOX cohorts in their attempt to make this an anti-Islam terrorist act rather than admit that it has ties to radical Dominionism with its feet firmly planted in the Christian Bible by the bible-based cult of Dominionism.
Not only do we have pure ignorance reporting on this tragedy, but we have purists who want to lambaste us for calling this what it is – a Dominionist influenced psychotic killing spree. I will tell you that we do not randomly point fingers at every atrocious incident that occurs crying, “Dominionist!”, “Dominionist!”. My researcher, Alex, and I both grew in up Dominionist households. We have lived with this theology fed to us over the course of our lives. We both watched it infest conservative politics and gain a stranglehold on one of the two major political Parties in America. We have researched this separately and then together for the past several years with hours upon hours of discussion with each other and outside consultations with scholared experts.
The outcome has been to coin this push for theocracy in a way that people can grasp by using the umbrella term “Dominionism”. When we do this, and as our work attracts higher visibility, we get pushback. Not just from the Dominionists themselves, but by those who insist on semantic purity and spend time diverting the conversation into arguments about how ‘Dominionism’ can or cannot be used. We don’t have time for this.
With the expressed encouragement of the ‘experts’, we decided years ago to use a single identifying term that we could make a “brand” of the collective efforts by divergent religious groups who all seek to take “dominion” over secular institutions and society in their quest to establish a theocratic government rooted in biblical law. It is working. Even 4 years ago if you Googled Dominionism no more the a few pages would appear. Today there are 1,580,000 results. THAT is progress! And it has taken the efforts of many of us to generate this branding.
With that said, I will share with you a response that Alex wrote to an email that I received criticizing us for improperly applying the term “Dominionism”….
I’ve discussed it before, and will gently remind again: We are using “dominionism” as “dominionism sensu ‘Christian Nationalist’”–which is the definition that the anti-dominionist research community (as opposed to theological communities) use and have used since 2005, and includes not only promoters of “Kingdom Now Theology” (now most recently having renamed itself the New Apostolic Reformation) but Christian Reconstructionism, ultramontaine Catholicism with tendencies towards religious nationalism (such as Opus Dei), and other “Bible-based” groups that claim the “Dominion Mandate” to conquer the earth (per Genesis 1:26-28).
This is broader than the general use in stricter apologetics circles (who have generally restricted the use to postmillenial-dispensationalist groups descendant from Manifest Sons of God theology) but there is even an understanding in apologetics circles researching Christian-nationalist movements that the three major branches of these movements cross-pollinate to such an extent (and on a worldwide basis) that it may be no longer functionally useful to “split hairs” (in particular, the NAR and Christian Reconstructionism have extensively cross-fertilised, NAR theology is increasingly being recognised as being quasi-premillenial or “conditionally premillenial” in practice in many neopentecostal denominations, and a fair amount of cross-fertilisation has occurred between ultramontaine Catholicism and NAR-linked groups starting with the “pro-life” movement and expanding into other spheres–most recently and notably with anti-Moslem and anti-LGBT hate speech).
This has been the general use of the term for the past seven years or so, since there has been a cohesive modern anti-dominionist movement (at most, proposals have been made to differentiate theological dominionism–that tied with a specific denominational creed mandating dominion over earthly spheres of government–and “political dominionism”, that is, organisations operating primarily on a political-activism level (such as Family Research Council, American Family Association, and the like).
The term has been used for some seven-odd years to refer to Christian Reconstructionists, to NAR promoters, to political groups part of the “Religious Right” (in fact, the term “dominionism” was chosen from their own terminology in an attempt to get *away* from the term “Religious Right” waaaay back in 2004-ish), to ultramontaine Catholics (one of the major research forums on dominionism, Talk to Action, has a researcher who primarily focuses on ultramontaine Catholicism and IRD-linked “steeplejacking” groups trying to turn mainline Christian denominations dominionist–and yes, he does use the term “dominionism” in the sense “dominionism ‘sensu Christian Nationalist’” for this).
Even one of the primary researchers on dominionism in apologetics circles (Sarah Leslie of Discernment Ministries, a conservative, evangelical, *anti-dominionist* org) has noted the “premillenial/postmillenial” distinction is no longer functionally useful, and she has come out in favour of a broader definition of dominionism (similar to that in use by secular researchers) that largely defines dominionism by the use of the “dominion mandate” and use of coercive tactics within the congregation.
In this case, you will probably just have to accept that we–and the vast majority of the anti-dominionist research community–accept a broader definition of dominionism that covers all Christian-nationalist groups that use some form of the “dominion mandate” to justify taking over earthly governments (whether it be strictly from Genesis, from an interpretation of “Word-Faith Theology” (which is actually a fairly common NAR permutation), because of belief they are regents of Christ (not uncommon in Christian Reconstructionist groups), because a critical mass of countries must be converted (another common NAR “conditional premillenialism” permutation), and so on.
This definition, of note, does *not* include secular writers opposed to Islamism (as it is, I’m opposed to ANY form of religious nationalism or extremism, and find once one strips away the “holy book covering” they tend to have the same “core of coercion” underneath.
That said–there has been an ongoing conspiracy theory that has had its home in dominionist circles (and I’ve witnessed its evolution over the years) that Islam is somehow a Communist plot, or that the Soviets and Moslems are being guided together by a third puppetmaster, or that the UN is a Soviet plot or part of a Moslem conspiracy. (This, actually, is one of the things that jumped out at me when watching the “manifesto video”–I’m quite familiar with various flavours of conspiracy theories popular in the far-right and racist-right (being raised in an NAR-linked anti-LGBT hate group, and starting in my teens being very active in anti-fascist and anti-racist groups)…the particular conspiracy theory he goes on about is one that is pretty exclusive to American dominionist groups (particularly American dominionist groups heavily influenced by the John Birch Society or “end of the world” theology promoted by Hal Lindsay and Tim LaHaye–I even heard the specific “Soviets and Moslems set up the UN as a plot and will work together to destroy Israel” thing in the NAR church I grew up in, and in my experience THAT particular variant of the “UN conspiracy theory” *is* a pretty exclusive one to American dominionists).
The “Knights Templar” influence I honestly think he may have gotten from one of two sources–either racist ultramontaine Catholic groups (these do unfortunately exist)…or, more likely, he may have borrowed the concept from the Freemasons and used the “Crusader” ideology often promoted by dominionists (and usually these ARE dominionists, rather than secularists). There are different branches or “rites” of Freemasonry, and some of the European rites do play rather heavily on Knights Templar imagery which he likely found attractive to begin with (being an association of Christian knight-militant fighting Moslems in the Holy Land).
In the PZ Myers article (and in the manifesto), the differentiation between “secular Jews” and observant Jews *also* stands out to me; there is but one Christian group I have found an identical differentiation which has been used as the basis of demonisation of one and tolerance (if not outright idolisation) of the other…dominionists tied with the NAR and “Christian ZIonist” groups outside of the NAR proper. (Usually “Bible-based” groups tend to be accepting of all of Judaism including non-observant Jews or members of liberal denominations of Judaism such as Reform or Restoration Judaism, or they tend to be broadly anti-Semitic.
The only ones that really differentiate at all that I’ve ever seen are Christian Zionist groups that consider observant Jews to be essentially an end-time pawn and secular and non-Orthodox Jews to be “apostate” at best and servants of the Devil at worst…and the state of Israel itself, which does not consider Jewish conversion to be legitimate unless it is through an Orthodox synagogue (which is because you have a lot of Orthodox Jews, particularly Haredim and Hasidim which constitute a powerful political lobby preventing allowing other Jewish denominations the right to be legally accepted as Jewish (and hence eligible for the Right of Return) unless they convert to Orthodox Judaism).
The instructions on what to do for a martyrdom operation also remind me of material I am personally familiar with–the Army of God domestic terrorism manual, which includes a section on martyrdom operations recommended for “termites” (their term for monkeywrenchers and domestic terrorists) who have a terminal disease or otherwise wish to go on a suicide mission–there is similar emphasis on religious preparation (less the Eucharist–the Eucharist is not seen as terribly important in NAR churches in the US from where the Army of God primarily operates, but are of much more importance in European churches, even NAR churches).
I also have seen some striking similarities between laws proposed by the shooter (and noted in the PZ Myers article) and explicit proposals for bans on birth control, abortion, women’s education and sex education proposed by “Quiverfull” groups (this is a dominionist activist movement promoting having as many children as possible to grow up to be future “God Warriors”) and particularly by ultramontaine Catholic groups. (In the US, the bogus claim that “The Pill” and other hormonal contraception are abortifacients are usually included, but there is a strong push to pretty much restrict women to the home and intensive childrearing.)
I hope this makes it clear as to why – in the case of the Norway killer – we are very comfortable referring to the myriad of ideological influences that drove this killer’s actions as – DOMINIONIST.
In regards to dominionist linkages to the bloody slaughter in Norway, here are our findings so far:
a) In particular, with a video manifesto (which has been linked on Youtube until it was pulled there, and which has since shown up on Liveleak) the shooter makes some very specific references that show he has familiarity with, and probably shares terminology with (if not overtly sharing intel with) “Christian patriot” militia groups in the US (including material that has been posted on racist and far-right-wing forums in the US, use of particular catch phrases associated with the “Christian Patriot” movement in the US, and others). I’ve just spent nine hours typing up an extensive analysis of the video; he is clearly connected with religious-nationalist groups in Europe and in the US. The degree of references to material originating in the US, in fact, indicate he has been in somewhat regular contact with anti-Muslim racists in the “Christian Patriot” movement in the US, rather than obtaining racialist material from racist groups elsewhere in the world.
b) One thing that stands out (if one is unaware of racialist movements in Europe)–most racist activity in Europe so far has been from “odinists” and “Satanists” in the black-metal community (and are largely doing it in a pattern of occasionally bloody attention-whoredom) or from blatantly neo-Nazi groups. A group or person claiming a “Conservative Christian” basis for this, especially in Europe, stands out like a sore thumb; generally (unlike the US) there has not been a tradition of “racist right” churches like Christian Identity that claim to be “Bible-based”.
c) One thing that stands out in the killer’s videos and writings is a certain obsession with the Knights Templar, the Third Crusade, and the idea of setting up what amount to European “Christian Patriot militias” (often using the very same terminology, of note, as “Christian patriot” groups associated with dominionism and the racist right use in the US) to foment a revolution in the same way as planned by “Christian Patriot militias” here in the US.
d) In particular, the killer is a known guest writer on the site “Jihad Watch”, which has had very close linkage with Dominionist groups (including NAR groups). Jihad Watch is sufficiently infamous (and sufficiently tied to Dominionist activity, particularly among the NAR) that it is one of those groups that Southern Poverty Law Center keeps a very careful watch on (and is on verge of listing it formally as a hate site), and writers to that site almost inevitably have ties to NAR groups.
e) There is a known NAR movement in Norway, which is similar in extremism to the US and which has known linkage to NAR extremists in the US, particularly in C. Peter Wagner’s network (in particular, Jan Torp who has known linkage to Sarah Palin via the Wagner NAR network among others); Norway, a relatively religiously conservative country, has been aggressively targeted by the NAR in an effort to establish a bench-head in Scandinavia. (Of note–Wagner’s lineage of NARasites is the most closely connected to the “racist right” along with Christian Reconstructionists; there is clear evidence that Christian Identity groups and NAR groups have traded theological terminology related to domestic terrorism as recently as the late 1980s and early 1990s.) I wrote about Torp’s connection to Sarah Palin at God’s Own Party? in November 2008.
It is important to recognize that C. Peter Wagner who we are speaking of is one of the main endorsers of Governor Rick Perry’s “The Response” event in Houston.
f) No less than two other researchers have independently confirmed and made the connection that the murder is likely to have been a dominionist (sensu Christian Nationalist, which is the sense we have used and will be using in our writing). Bill Berkowitz and–notably–Christian Reconstructionism expert Chip Berlet have explicitly noted that the killer is a “Christian nationalist”.
Berlet has even noted (and I have noted to an extent as well) that his writings indicate he has been at least influenced by ultramontaine Catholicism even though he is supposedly a Protestant, that he has been apparently influenced by noted Dominionist Paul Weyrich, and explicitly notes likely American Dominionist influences in the killer’s writing. (Of note, he also seems to be directly influenced by writers for Accuracy in Academia, a “political Dominionist” group pushing for censorship of higher-education curricula; links where the specific term “Cultural Marxism” (a new euphemism for what was referred to as “Secular Humanism” in the 1980s, and is apparently a slur directed towards secular multicultural societies) has been used particularly by Holocaust-revisionist groups connected with “Christian Patriot” militias.
g) Much of the news on the shooting (particularly the links with “Christian nationalist” theology) are in fact coming from non-US sources; some of my initial sources of info were from Norwegian/English bilingual persons who were translating reports from aftenposten.no in live time on a news forum (when most of the news was primarily available from Norwegian-language sources).
So far, the best sources have STILL been foreign media (which speaks much on how the US media is no longer aggressive at investigation): the Australian Broadcasting Company has been a surprisingly good source of info.
We do ourselves and no one else any favor by arguing semantics. My position is and has been that ‘dominion’ is a word in the English dictionary and it means “to control; to dominate”. That is precisely what these dangerous religious zealots are seeking and achieving here in America and across the globe. None of this is new. While they have essentially used Third World countries as their Petri dishes to practice and grow their efforts before bringing it to our shores…we have been dozing off and are about to be caught unaware if we do not have an awakening.
We understand why those who, even unwittingly, have joined forces with Dominionists (i.e. those who still think that being a conservative is about fiscal policies). They are as clueless about the Dominionist Movement as the rest of us. Random events – such as the upcoming Rick Perry Dominionist gathering in Houston, Texas on August 6th are seen as individual occurrences. A ‘Sarah Palin’ is seen as a self-aggrandizing, narcissistic anomaly. But, one of the most harmful time-consumers of getting this message out is to have to respond to and convince those who are seeking the same end that we are in this effort – the separation of church and state. There is no time for hair-splitting. While we argue semantics we lose precious time to educate.
I thank those who have reached out to me over the years who are truly “experts”. The researchers (like Alex); the theologians like Dr. Anthea Butler of the University of Pennsylvania; Sarah Leslie who is a noted author on Discernment Ministries; Elizabeth Sholes, Publis Policy Director of the California Council of Churches and many more – all giving me their blessing to carry the message of Dominionism in American politics forward in my own voice – under the single term – DOMINIONISM.
People are beginning to listen.
** NAR (New Apostolic Reformation)