Political player and disgraced “Right Hand of God” Ralph Reed is now claiming Christian dominionism is “a conspiracy theory largely confined to university faculty lounges and MSNBC studios.” I’m uncertain why anyone even on Reed’s side of the aisle would believe him, given his history of leading his flock astray, but he has found a platform on Patheos Evangelical Portal in what it calls “the first in our Believers, Movers and Shakers series, which will publish original pieces from Christian leaders in the public square each month until the 2012 election.”
Of course, Ralph Reed is hardly the first denialist to surface. We saw A. Larry Ross claim “Christian Dominionism is a Myth” on the Daily Beast on August 21st, claiming it is nothing but a “scare tactic” of the “left” with little basis in truth. We have seen Lisa Miller, Newsweek‘s religion editor, use the Washington Post to reassure readers that, as AlterNet puts it, ” all this talk of dominionism and the GOP is just a paranoid fantasy of the left.”
Responding to Rachel Maddow’s words on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on August 10th – “Their goal, world domination, blah blah blah…” Miller says,
Evangelicals generally do not want to take over the world. “Dominionism” is the paranoid mot du jour. In its broadest sense, the term describes a Christian’s obligation to be active in the world, including in politics and government. More narrowly, some view it as Christian nationalism. You could argue that the 19th- and early 20th-century reformers – abolitionists, suffragists and temperance activists, for example – were dominionists, says Molly Worthen, who teaches religious history at the University of Toronto.
Extremist dominionists do exist, as theocrats who hope to transform our democracy into something that looks like ancient Israel, complete with stoning as punishment. But “it’s a pretty small world,” says Worthen, who studies these groups.
Miller doesn’t explain or disprove the connection, however, because she can’t make Rick Perry’s supporters disappear in a puff of denialist logic. She can’t suddenly make the connection between the New Apostolic Reformation’s apostles and Rick Perry, Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, and Jim DeMint, and Rick Santorum go away. They happened. They’re real. It’s pretty striking that Miller’s “pretty small world” has connections with such high-power Republican luminaries, including presidential candidates.
Neither can Ralph Reed, and oh by the way, what does he have to say anyway?
The notion that Bachmann, Perry or other candidates secretly harbor “dominionist” theology is a conspiracy theory largely confined to university faculty lounges and MSNBC studios. Returning domestic spending to pre-Obama levels, repealing Obamacare and opposing Roe are not without controversy, but they hardly represent an attempt to impose Biblical law upon an unwitting nation. Like the shock and awe that accompanied the media’s discovery of videos of Sarah Palin speaking in churches in Alaska as governor, what some in the secular media find appalling is greeted by most voters with a shrug.
Hardly a shrug, Ralph. Most voters are not like you. And we’re not shrugging. Not at all, as you will see.
It’s interesting that these Christian extremists put themselves in the spotlight by endorsing the likes of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich and when we notice what’s going on, and bring it to light, act outraged, denying they exist at all. But they do exist. They’ve made themselves known. We know who the New Apostolic Reformation is. We know who Lou Engle is. We know the AFA and Bryan Fischer and all the other players like Cindy Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner and the legion of others, and to steal a phrase, they are legion. These candidates have embraced the most extremist elements of the Religious Right, in public, in front of the camera, in print, in speeches, endorsed them and taken their endorsement.
It’s too late to put on the innocent act.
And we’re supposed now to believe that it’s a paranoid delusion? A myth created by a non-existent “liberal media elite” who is ignoring the problem in the first place by pretending these Republican candidates have mainstream appeal? Are you serious, Ralph Reed? No, you weren’t then either, when you were on the make and fleecing your flock and lying to the nation.
You can go to any bookstore and find their books, like C. Peter Wagner’s Dominion – How Kingdom Action Can Change the World. We’ve seen one of Wagner’s faithful followers, Apostle Alice Patterson (one of those hugging Brownback in the photo above), claim the Democratic Party is controlled by demons
…that an evil structure could be connected to and empowered by a political party … One strong fallen angel cannot wreak havoc on an entire nation by himself. He needs a network of wicked forces to restrain the Church and to deceive the masses. I asked the “Lord, Father, what is the demonic structure behind the Democratic Party?
But there is no such thing as dominionism even when dominionisms leaders are publishing blue prints for the takeover of the country that any journalist or literate American citizen can read? Is that the story you’re going with, Religious Right? It’s almost as though these people realized that we’re not all like them, but too late, the genie is out of the bottle. We see you know; you’re revealed; and we won’t forget you or listen to your denials.
Interestingly, Reed ends his diatribe with a warning to us all:
The media, which has been publishing the obituary of religious conservatives prematurely for a quarter century, will discover once again that social conservatives are here to stay. Their return from a long exile from civic engagement in the late 1970s was not a fad. Nor was their deep conviction that America needs moral and spiritual renewal to return it to its founding principles.
And that’s exactly what the dominionists say, that America “needs moral and spiritual renewal”, and the Seven Mountains are the way to achieve that. As more than one of them is on record as saying, democracy breeds immorality and wages war on “the Church” (whatever that is). Nice try, Ralph. Can’t wait to see what you try to sell us next time.
Ralph Reed’s bio, by the way, attached to the bottom of this piece of denialist tripe, startlingly leaves out his political disgrace and his connection with criminal elements. As Time Magazine said in 2006, writing Reed’s political obituary,
In the face of incredibly damning evidence, he insisted that he hadn’t done anything wrong and that he didn’t know he was consorting with a friend nicknamed Casino Jack or taking money from gambling interests. He thought he could convince his base that they shouldn’t believe their eyes and ears, that they should trust him instead. In the end, not enough did.
Now he wants us to again doubt the evidence of our eyes and ears and trust him instead. Reed’s word was not enough then, and it is not enough now.