Sep 22, 2011

Do Religious Right zealots want to take “dominion” in America and govern according to their version of biblical law?

Of course they do. But all of a sudden, leaders of the movement say they don’t. Stung by a series of articles exposing the dominionist agenda, they are desperately trying to rebrand themselves as moderates.

Take Chuck Colson, for example.

In a Sept. 7 column, Colson heatedly denied that he and his camp want a fundamentalist Christian theocracy.

“Now, there are such things as Christian theocrats, usually called ‘theonomists,’ but they’re a tiny fringe,” he wrote. “The people being labeled ‘theocrats’ and ‘Dominionists’ by the press today don’t want the United States governed by a Christian equivalent of sharia law. Like, Dr. [Martin Luther] King, they simply believe that their religious positions and moral convictions don’t disqualify them from the public square.”

A week later, Colson returned to the topic. He accused progressives of playing “six degrees of separation” with Religious Right leaders. Just because raging Christian Reconstructionist theocrat Rousas J. Rushdoony influenced Religious Right guru Francis Schaeffer who in turn influenced everyone in the modern-day Religious Right doesn’t mean, Colson says, that they all are Rushdoony-style theocrats.

“The people playing this game,” Colson asserted, “must appreciate how unfair this is…. Yet, they play on. Instead of engaging us on the level of ideas, they impugn our motives. Instead of asking us what we really think, they find some obscure crank and then draw lines linking us to him or her.”

Colson, of course, is partly right. Guilt by association is wrong. But when he claims that he and his fellow Religious Right leaders are not dominionists, he’s merely covering his tracks.

Colson knows that Americans overwhelmingly oppose the politicization of churches and support the separation of church and state. If he and his cronies are too candid about their agenda, Americans are certain to reject it.

But that doesn’t mean Colson isn’t a dominionist. In friendly settings, he has freely admitted it.

In June 2007, Colson addressed the pastors conference of the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination dominated by fundamentalists. (The speech was reported at

“What is our purpose in life?” Colson asked. “It is to restore the fallen culture to the glory of God. It’s to take command and dominion over every aspect of life, whether it’s music, science, law, politics, communities, families – to bring Christianity to bear in every single area of life.”

Hmmm. “Take command and dominion over every aspect of life.”

Now, forgive me for taking Colson’s own words seriously, but that sounds like dominionism to me.

And Colson is no “obscure crank.” He’s the reigning elder statesman of the Religious Right, a major player whose books, columns and training programs have widespread influence in the movement.

Other Religious Right leaders have used similar theocratic language.

I don’t think all of them want to impose a Rushdoony-style theocracy on America. Frankly, too many of them have strayed to favor the death penalty for acts of adultery and homosexuality.

I do think they want to tear down the wall of separation between church and state so they can fund religious schools and other ministries with taxpayer dollars, pervade public schools with their religious perspective, ban all abortions, deny basic civil rights to the LGBT community and festoon courthouses and other public buildings with the symbols of their faith.

That may not be the definition of full-blown theocracy, but it’s too close to it for my tastes. Sorry, Chuck. We aren’t mischaracterizing your agenda. We’re exposing it.

And one more thing, Chuck: You’re no Martin Luther King. Dr. King worked to expand civil rights for all Americans. He didn’t try to impose a sectarian agenda that denied basic liberties to others. Stop comparing your movement to his. It’s offensive.