The Separation of Church and State

N.C. voucher school embraces controversial ‘Seven Mountains’ theology

  Rob Boston

Private school vouchers are a bad idea for several reasons. One of them is that, inevitably, taxpayer money ends up in the hands of extremists.

Consider North Carolina, where a massive voucher program is funneling millions to private schools, 88% of which are religious. Among them is the Daniel Christian Academy in Concord. As writer Justin Parmenter pointed out recently, the school, which has received nearly $600,000 in voucher aid so far, boasts that its purpose is to “raise the next generation of leaders who will transform the heart of our nation” by equipping students “to enter the Seven Mountains of Influence.”

Now, you might read this and think, “Huh? What are the Seven Mountains of Influence?”

Anyone who tracks Christian Nationalist groups knows this is an ominous term. It refers to an extreme form of theology whereby “dominionist” Christians – that is to say, literal theocrats – work to take over American society by seizing control of seven key institutions: family, education, media, government, business, arts/entertainment and religion.

As Parmenter noted, Seven Mountains theology has been around since the 1970s but didn’t really take off until 2013 when evangelist Lance Wallnau published a book titled, Invading Babylon: The Seven Mountains Mandate.

The goal of these dominionists is to run all facets of society, but they often don’t say that out loud. As Parmenter notes, Wallnau gave a speech in 2011 advising his followers, “If you’re talking to a secular audience, you don’t talk about having dominion over them. This … language of takeover, it doesn’t actually help.”

Parmenter asked Frederick Clarkson, senior research analyst at Political Research Associates, to comment on why we ought to care that Daniel Christian Academy is receiving taxpayer support through vouchers.

“North Carolina taxpayers should be concerned that they are helping to underwrite an academy for training children to become warriors against not only the rights of others but against democracy and its institutions,” Clarkson responded. “The idea of the Seven Mountain Mandate is for Christians of the right sort to take dominion – which is to say power and influence – over the most important sectors of society. It is theocratic in orientation and its vision is forever.

“This is not something that is about liberals and conservatives,” Clarkson added. “Most Christians including most evangelicals, Catholics, and mainline Protestants are deemed not just insufficiently Christian, but may be viewed as infested with demons and standing in the way of the advancement of the Kingdom of God on Earth. And they will need to be dealt with.”

(For more on Seven Mountains theology, see this piece by Clarkson.)

America’s grand vision of religious freedom gives people the right to align with extreme versions of Christianity (as long as they abide by the law and don’t engage in violence). But it shouldn’t require the government to fund institutions whose views are inimical to the very democracy we seek to preserve.

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The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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