Commentary By Ron Beasley
The Evangelical Christians are a large group but there is fringe group of that movement that is small but well represented in the Republican primary contest - Dominionism.
With Tim Pawlenty out of the presidential race, it is now fairly clear that the GOP candidate will either be Mitt Romney or someone who makes George W. Bush look like Tom Paine. Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn�t optional.
Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America�s most radical theocrats, it�s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outr�getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult. Most writers, myself included, who explore it have been called paranoid. In a contemptuous 2006 First Things review of several books, including Kevin Phillips� American Theocracy, and my own Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote, �the fear of theocracy has become a defining panic of the Bush era.�
This has come up recently when The Washington Examiner�s Byron York asked Michele Bachmann a question about her relationship with her husband - specifically would she submit to her husband's wishes as president. One of the tenants of Domionism is that wives must submit to the wishes of their husbands.
But it's not just Bachmann:
But it�s only recently that one group of Pentecostals, the New Apostolic Reformation, has created its own distinct Dominionist movement. And members see Perry as their ticket to power.
�The New Apostles talk about taking dominion over American society in pastoral terms,� wrote Wilder in the Texas Observer. �They refer to the �Seven Mountains� of society: family, religion, arts and entertainment, media, government, education, and business. These are the nerve centers of society that God (or his people) must control.� He quotes a sermon from Tom Schlueter, New Apostolic pastor close to Perry. �We�re going to infiltrate [the government], not run from it. I know why God�s doing what he�s doing ... He�s just simply saying, �Tom I�ve given you authority in a governmental authority, and I need you to infiltrate the governmental mountain.�
According to Wilder, members of the New Apostolic Reformation see Perry as their vehicle to claim the �mountain� of government. Some have told Perry that Texas is a �prophet state,� destined, with his leadership, to bring America back to God. The movement was deeply involved in The Response, the massive prayer rally that Perry hosted in Houston earlier this month. �Eight members of The Response �leadership team� are affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation movement,� wrote Wilder. �The long list of The Response�s official endorses�posted on the event�s website�reads like a Who�s Who of the apostolic-prophetic crowd, including movement founder C. Peter Wagner.�
So why is this important?
For believers in Dominionism, rule by non-Christians is a sort of sacrilege�which explains, in part, the theological fury that has accompanied the election of our last two Democratic presidents. �Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ�to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness,� wrote George Grant, the former executive director of Coral Ridge Ministries, which has since changed its name to Truth in Action Ministries. �But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice ... It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time ... World conquest.�
If this doesn't sound familiar it should. It sounds a lot like the Islamic fundamentalism that spawned al Queda. Religious extremism is crazy and dangerous regardless of the species. Both Perry and Bachmann are part of this movement.