Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Dominionist hues and tones 

I am not suggesting that fundamentalists are running the government, but they constitute a significant force in the coalition that now holds a monopoly of power in Washington under a Republican Party that for a generation has been moved steadily to the right by its more extreme variants even as it has become more and more beholden to the corporations that finance it. One is foolish to think that their bizarre ideas do not matter. I have no idea what President Bush thinks of the fundamentalists' fantastical theology, but he would not be president without them. He suffuses his language with images and metaphors they appreciate, and they were bound to say amen when Bob Woodward reported that the President "was casting his vision, and that of the country, in the grand vision of God's master plan." ~ Bill Moyers, Welcome to Doomsday

Frederick Clarkson asks: "Who is America's Top Theocrat?" See blog post for Saturday, March 05, 2005
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the biggest theocrat of all? There sure are a lot of candidates for top theocrat these days.

Clarkson offers up Tom DeLay and star chamber judicature Anton Scalia as potential victors.

I have another candidate. Marvin Olaskey told me about him a few days ago. His name is George W. Bush. Or at least that's in part the implication. This is what Marv told me:
Who's the major figure behind the election and re-election of George W. Bush? On one level, the visionary Karl Rove. At a deeper level, a theologian most Americans have never heard of: Francis Schaeffer, who 50 years ago this month founded an evangelistic haven in Switzerland, L'Abri. ~ Link

Francis Schaeffer ay? Talk about dropping code word bread crumbs around the park for the pigeons to peck at. (For more on the topic of coded language and George W. Bush's inaugural address - as well as dominionist language contained in textbooks - check out the Yurica Report.

What's so interesting about Olasky's citation of Schaeffer is the well known recognition among Christian Reconstructionist and Dominion theology adherents of Schaeffer's role as a kind of founding "philosopher" emissary extraordinaire to the modern Dominionist movement and worldview.

Olasky doesn't come right out and specifically state that Schaeffer is or has ever been a personal guiding light for Bush but the implications are interesting nonetheless. And I'd be surprised if Bush wasn't familiar with Schaeffer especially considering his previous close working ties to Olasky and the Christian Right in general. The suggestion Olasky is making is that - "at a deeper level" - those who helped put George W. Bush into office are latter day champions of Francis Schaeffer's writings and teachings. Connection implied: Francis Schaeffer and George W. Bush share a common philosophical, ideological, and practical base of support. And, George W. Bush, and the Republican party better not forget it.

"Jesus Feaks" and Dominion Theology

Who is Francis Schaeffer? Sara Diamond writes:
An earlier source of dominion theology was an evangelical philosopher named Fracis Schaeffer, who died of cancer in 1984. Schaeffer's 1981 book A Christian Manifesto sold 290,000 copies in its first year, and remained one of the Christian Right's most important texts into the 1990's. The book's argument was simple: America began as a nation rooted in Biblical principles. But as society became more pluralistic, proponenets of a new philosophy of secular humanism gradually came to dominate debate on policy issues. Since humanists place human progress, not God, at the center of their considerations, they pushed American culture in all manner of ungodly directions, the visible results of which included abortion and the secularization of the public schools. At the end of A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer advocated the use by Christians of civil disobedience to restore Biblical morality, which explains Schaeffer's popularity among activists. Operation Rescue leader Randall Terry credited Schaeffer as a major influence in his own life and among fellow "rescuers." In the 1960s and 1970s, Schaeffer and his wife Edith ran a retreat center called L'Abri (Hebrew for "the shelter") in Switzerland. There young converts to Christ came to study with Schaeffer and learn how to apply his teachings to the political process back home. ~ Source: Roads To Dominion, by Sara Diamond; page 246; The Guilford Press, 1995.

In addition see: Sects and Schisms, by Sara Diamond.

Schaeffer also made a great impression on such individuals as appocalyptic end time howler Tim LaHaye (co-author of the Left Behind series), who, like so many others, parrots Schaeffer's boo-scare stories about secular humanism and liberals and homosexuals and and the usual checklist of right-wing and Religious Right cult-warrior scapegoats:
In 1980 Tim LaHaye published a book, The Battle for the Mind, which amplified on the conservative Christian evangelical critique of secular humanism articulated by popular theologian Francis A. Schaeffer. The LaHaye book is dedicated to Schaeffer ~ Source: Public Eye; see link below.

More on Schaeffer's influence on LaHaye, and others, from Public Eye.

Schaeffer himself may have remained publically aloof from the strict Reconstructionist and Dominionist movements but his philosphical influence on these groups and their evangelical leaders working today is no secret among true believers. And Olasky knows this too. Convieniently he omits any mention of Schaeffer's influence on dominionist thinking and goes to great lengths to distance him from such matters. Which comes off as none to little disingenous considering the historical and currently operational realities.

In any case, any mention from someone like Olasky, pointing to Francis Schaeffer's influence on the election of George W. Bush sends a pretty clear message of support to those among the Theocratic Right who are familiar with, and understand this ideological wink, and the importance of Schaeffer's relationship to the Dominionist cause. Implied communication: "the truth" is stealthily marching on under the banner of George W. Bush's re-election. Or it damned well better be if ya know what's good fer ya, GOP. So, don't forget to acknowledge the "truth" each night before beddy-bye time. Nighty night. And so forth.
Schaeffer (and his son Franky) influenced many of today's theocratic right activists, including Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, and John W. Whitehead, who have gone off in several theological and political directions, but all adhere to the notion that the Scriptures have given dominion over the Earth to Christians, who thus owe it to God to seize the reins of secular society. ~ Source: Public Eye

For a little more on Schaeffer and his ideological relationship to the Kingdom theology, Reconstructionist, and Dominionist movements you can read this article written by Alan Torres for something called Biblicist.or:
The idea of taking dominion over secular society gained widespread acceptance with the 1981 publication of evangelical philosopher Francis Schaeffer's book "A Christian Manifesto." Schaeffer, who died in 1984, ran a Christian retreat/training center in Switzerland during the 1960's and 1970's. He and his wife worked with young people who were searching for spiritual answers to life, faith and God . They came from all over to study the Bible and learn how to apply Schaeffer's evangelical methodology, which included his version of Dominion Theology, to their cultures back home.

Rule the world for God.
Give the impression that you are there to work for the party, not push an ideology.
Hide your strength.

Advice contained in a memo offered by Pat Robertson, "distributing at an Iowa Republican County caucus..." and titled "How to participate in a Political Party."

Meanwhile: Dr. Bruce Prescott, "Host of "Religious Talk" on KREF radio and "Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists," offers another candidate for top tier theocrat honors: Senator James Inhofe


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