Guest Post by Sunnyjane
Full Disclosure: Lest readers of this post assume that I am anti-Christian or anti-religion, I am taking the liberty of sharing a little of my religious background. I was born to Christian parents, baptized in the Episcopal church when I was four months old, went through Episcopal Catechism and Confirmation, and received my first Communion when I was twelve years old. On my Confirmation Day, the Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia presented me with a small white leather-bound Book of Common Prayer. When I married in 1967, I carried this prayer book, covered in white silk with a white rose pinned on it, in lieu of a traditional bridal bouquet.
When he was of the two appropriate ages for these traditional Episcopal customs, my husband and I had our son baptized and Confirmed in accordance with our own beliefs.
I was, am, and always will be a Christian. And I fully and unconditionally support the Separation of Church and State for my country, and will do whatever I can to keep it from becoming a nation governed by theocracy.
What is Theocratic Governance?
Theocracy, from the Greek “rule of God,” is a form of government in which a country is run by divine guidance, especially one ruled by clergy or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. The most obvious examples of theocratic governments today are those of Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Oman and Iran.
“But,” you might protest, “those are Islamic countries practicing extremist Sharia Laws! That has nothing to do with America!” Ah, but it does.
Christianity is A Victim – It is NOT the Villain
Like moderate Muslims who are tarred with the brush of Islamic extremism, many conventional Christians in America today are reeling from the unjust onslaught of rage against our religion that has been brought to us courtesy of the far-right Fundamentalists and Evangelicals who would have America be ruled by a Dominionist government in the form of a Theocracy.
Dominionists desperately want this. To them, the Constitution and Bill of Rights are merely annoying add-ons to Old Testament Biblical law, with some careful pick-and-choose morsels from the New Testament. Dominionists claim that Christian men with specific theological beliefs are ordained by God to run our society. In this form of government, they are the Superior Class and the rest of us – Christians, non-Christians, people of no particular organized faith, or no faith at all – are merely second-class citizens.
Theocracy Watch Theocracy Watch tells us that the term Dominionist is used in a generic sense to discuss a tendency toward aggressive political activism by Christians who claim they are mandated by God to govern according to his word. As the Reverend Rod Parsley, a regular ole champion of theocracy, told his Columbus, Ohio congregation, Theocracy means God is in control, and you are not.
The late D. James Kennedy, former pastor of Coral Ridge Ministries in Florida, lectured his followers at a "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference in February 2005, that, As the vice-regents of God, we are to bring His truth and His will to bear on every sphere of our world and our society. Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost…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.
This is the essence of the 7 Mountain Mandate, an absolutely chilling prescription for having Dominionism rule our lives.
And, of course, Dominionist extraordinaire Sarah Palin has her own perverted beliefs on this form of governing. (Caution: this sort of drivel from Palin has known to cause temporary but dangerous spikes in blood pressure!)
I believe our country has been touched by God because when we formed our union, leaders back then dedicated our country to God and said that we would seek His will for our great nation. [Odd that no one I know remembers reading about the Founders doing any such thing.]
I think if we could get back to that, that humbleness, with that kind of contrite spirit, I think that we would be able to be provided more of the answers to so many of the great challenges that we’re facing, and these are huge challenges. Whether we’re talking about health care, whether we’re talking about energy independence, whether we’re talking about national security measures, no one person has all the right answers.
How Did America Get to this Point?
A brief history: It was during the mid-1980s that Dominionists targeted the Republican Party as the vehicle through which they could advance their agenda. At the same time, a small group of Republican strategists targeted fundamentalist, Pentecostal and charismatic churches to expand the base of the Republican Party. What better platform than the pulpit from which to spread “the Word” that the GOP was inviting extremists into their rapidly shrinking tent?
Dominionists are no longer the far-right fringe of the Republican Party. The fringe has become the core. For America, it is an unholy alliance that is currently the most serious threat to our democracy.
On the level playing field of a democratic system of government, progressives and most independents believe that opposing teams should respect their opponents, follow the rules, share willingly, and take turns.
But this is a different game. Like Sarah Palin and her belief that “Nobody would boo Piper,” the GOP and its fanatical dominionist Tea Party appendage, believe that real Americans would never boo the Word of God.
Bill Moyers, the well-known journalist and television host, understood this menace and spoke about it back in 2005: True, people of faith have always tried to bring their interpretation of the Bible to bear on American laws and morals ... it's the American way, encouraged and protected by the First Amendment. But what is unique today is that the radical religious right has succeeded in taking over one of America's great political parties. The country is not yet a theocracy but the Republican Party is, and they are driving American politics, using God as a battering ram on almost every issue: crime and punishment, foreign policy, health care, taxation, energy, regulation, social services and so on.
So, boo this threat we must – frequently and loudly.
Who is Acting to Prevent this Threat to our Nation?
Those who are fighting this scourge against democracy are many, and represent a wide variety of perspectives and experiences.
My personal go-to person on the issue is Leah Burton because I was first introduced to the subjects of Theocracy and Dominionism on her blog, God’s Own Party?
One of her latest posts is the excellent They are Most Dangerous When We Aren’t Listening… She also has a post called “Must Reads” by Experts on Dominionism, that recommends books for those who wish to learn more the subject.
Leah has a new book, God, Guns & Greed: A Dangerous Vision for America! scheduled for release on August 29, 2011. She describes it this way: This book is an introduction to Dominionism in American politics, the infestation of the Republican Party and how the Perrys, Bachmanns and Palins fit into this scheme.
Pastor Howard Bess: Leah has occasional guest posts by this amazing former minister because, as she says, …he does represent mainstream Christians and their concerns about the Dominionist faction who misrepresent the views and beliefs of most Christians. Frankly, Dominionists are giving Christianity a very bad rap!
In one post for God’s Own Party?, Pastor Bess takes on the Separation of Church and State, and has this to say about the rights of gays: Gay people would have had full legal rights years ago except for the attempt of religious people to force their theological beliefs on the nation. Legal rights for our gay citizens has nothing to do with any passage from the Bible. No interpretation of the Bible has any relevance to the laws of our land. Yet religious people insist their particular beliefs be established as the law of the land. Religious people can maintain their religious beliefs about sexual orientation and sexual behavior. I respect their decisions and commitments.
To ask government to force the convictions of one group onto all citizens is not compatible with First Amendment rights.
The United States is a great experiment. Central to that experiment is the encouragement of diversity, beginning with religion. May it ever be so.
Frank Schaeffer is the son of the late Francis August Schaeffer, an American Evangelical Christian theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor, whose ideas on religion helped spark the rise of the Christian Right in the United States.
In the mid 1980s, Frank Schaeffer left the Religious Right after he realized just how very anti-American they are, the theme he explores in his book Crazy For God.
PoliticusUSA, the web site of Real Liberal Politics ~~ No Corporate Money, No Masters
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein: …is the undisputed leader of the national movement to restore the obliterated wall separating church and state in the most technologically lethal organization ever created by humankind: the United States armed forces.
Theocracy Watch -- The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party
The ‘Gospel’ According to Sunnyjane
It is far past the time for Americans of every faith, personal belief system, and no faith to start paying attention and supporting those who have been fighting this battle for more years than you and I have been aware of this particular threat to our democracy. They are writing, speaking, and giving notice of this menace to our democracy. It is up to us to read, listen, heed those warnings, and spread “the word” to others who share the same concerns for our country.
We cannot be cowered by those who will call us anti-Christian, anti-religion, or anti-American. The next time you attend service at your particular house of worship, I suggest you ask one question of your spiritual leader: Where do you stand on the Separation of Church and State? If you don’t get the right answer, you might wish to consider finding another place, per Psalm 29:2, …to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Religion must not be used as a weapon against the citizens of our country. America is better than that, and it is exactly what the Founding Fathers clearly intended to prevent by prohibiting the making of “any law respecting an establishment of religion” in the First Amendment.