Who are the Dominionists?

Ed Brayton over atDispatches from the Culture Wars has a thoughtful article about theocracy. He writes in response to a Joe Carter essay: http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com/archives/002939.html

Here’s an excerpt. It’s well worth reading the whole thing.

So who are the theocrats? They are people who hold to a position called, variously, Christian reconstructionism, dominionism (aka dominion theology), or theonomy. Generally speaking, they are post-millenial in their eschatology, though not always. They divide the Old Testament law into two types, moral and ceremonial. Ceremonial law, they argue, was made obsolete by Christ’s coming to earth, but moral law they view as applicable in all times and all places. Thus, they would institute the Mosaic moral law as the civil and criminal law in the US and around the world, unless such law was explicitly overturned in the New Testament.

The leaders of this movement include: Greg Bahnsen (though he is now dead, he remains enormously influential in Calvinist circles in particular); Andrew Sandlin, head of the National Reform Association; Gary North of the Institute for Christian Economics; Gary DeMar, head of American Vision; RJ Rushdoony of the Chalcedon Foundation (in many ways, the founding father of reconstructionism); John Lofton, Howard Phillips and the Constitution Party leadership; and Howard Ahmanson, a billionaire philanthropist whose money funds a wide range of religious right organizations. As we will see, these are not obscure men; they are deeply involved in religious right groups across the nation and prominent in politics as well.

One of the primary religious right groups that few have heard of is the Council for National Policy. The CNP acts as a sort of central steering committee for other religious right organizations. Founded by Tim LaHaye, who also co-founded the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich, the CNP’s behind-the-scenes influence among the religious right can hardly be overstated. To give you an example of how this all integrates with politics, consider that Weyrich is also the co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation.

The list of members of the CNP reads like a Who’s Who of conservatives, especially religious conservatives, from Jesse Helms to Jack Abramoff to Ollie North to Pat Robertson. But it also includes a large number of reconstructionists. The CNP Board of Governors and executive committes have included Howard Ahmanson (also a major funder of the Discovery Institute), Howard Phillips, Weyrich and many others with close ties to theocracy movements.

Some of these men are also high officials in the Republican Party itself. David Barton, who has very close ties to reconstructionism, is the vice chair of the Texas Republican Party and was a key advisor to the 2004 Bush campaign. Many others, including DeMar, are regular guests on conservative talk shows like Hannity and Colmes, or write columns for influential conservative outlets. So while it may be unfair to consider most religious right folks as theocrats, they at least make common cause with them often.

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