Thursday, August 25, 2011

The GOP, Dominionists and Evangelicals - What Happens to Relgious Freedom?

While Christianist apologists like Michael Gerson continue to whine that there is no movement to establish a theocracy in the United States, a new NPR piece looks further at the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement and similar far right Christian movements that ought to terrify anyone who cares about the U. S. Constitution and religious freedom for all faiths. What's equally disconcerting is the fact that, as noted by Warren Throckmorton, many evangelicals don't understand that the policalization of their religious beliefs/agenda through the slavish obedience they demand of Republicans to their demands makes them part of the push toward theocracy. While it's true that not all evangelicals are dominionists, far too many of them knowingly or not are supporting that cause. First these highlights from NPR:

An emerging Christian movement that seeks to take dominion over politics, business and culture in preparation for the end times and the return of Jesus, is becoming more of a presence in American politics. The leaders are considered apostles and prophets, gifted by God for this role.

The international "apostolic and prophetic" movement has been dubbed by its leading American architect, C. Peter Wagner, as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Although the movement is larger than the network organized by Wagner — and not all members describe themselves as part of Wagner's NAR — the so-called apostles and prophets of the movement have identifiable ideology that separates them from other evangelicals.

Tabachnick says the movement currently works with a variety of politicians and has a presence in all 50 states. It also has very strong opinions about the direction it wants the country to take. For the past several years, she says, the NAR has run a campaign to reclaim what it calls the "seven mountains of culture" from demonic influence. The "mountains" are arts and entertainment; business; family; government; media; religion; and education.

[T]hey teach not just evangelizing souls one by one, as we're accustomed to hearing about. They teach that they will go into a geographic region or a people group and conduct spiritual-warfare activities in order to remove the demons from the entire population. This is what they're doing that's quite fundamentally different than other evangelical groups."

This is a movement that's growing in popularity, and one of the ways they've been able to do that [is because] they're not very identifiable to most people. They're just presented as nondenominational or just Christian — but it is an identifiable movement now with an identifiable ideology."

"[Their issues are] anti-abortion, anti-gay rights — but they also have ... the belief that government should not be involved in social safety nets, that the country is becoming socialist, if not communist ... — all of what we've come to call 'Tea Party issues' of very small government. In the case of the apostles, they believe this because they believe that a large government that handles the safety net is taking away what is the domain of the church and of Christianity."

LGBT citizens should be very concerned by this movement since we are one of the top targets in their widely cast net of hatred. Here's a sample of Throckmorton's thoughts:

Recently, some evangelicals have reacted strongly against accusations of Linkdominionism, even going so far as to deny it exists (e.g., this Christian Post op-ed). It exists for sure but as Tabachnick says, many evangelicals wouldn’t recognize it as being “them.”

What has been concerning to me is the marriage of traditional evangelicalism with the New Apostolic Reformation through right wing politics. For instance, Cindy Jacobs speaking at Liberty University’s Awakening conference was an odd combination of beliefs. The focus becomes societal change as opposed to proclaiming the religious message of the gospel.

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