According to the arch-conservatives on the bench, “religious” corporations can use their beliefs as a reason to opt out of laws that apply to all other citizens.
The case in question, “Hobby Lobby vs Kathleen Sibelius,” was brought by the Green family who argued that providing several methods of contraception in their employer-based insurance coverage violated their deeply-held religious beliefs. In a 5-4 decision, the court upheld the Hobby Lobby position. One date later, the Court held that 100 other companies with similar lawsuits in progress were also able to limit contraceptive coverage.
Shock waves from this stunning change in our national understanding of “religious freedom” caused millions of Americans to wonder about the religious right. Who are these folks? How did they get so dominant in the Republican party? What do they want?
Let’s be clear.
The religious right dreams of turning America into a Christian nation.
This does NOT mean keeping “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” in our money. Turning America into a Christian nation is a sinister, dangerous effort to make America into a theocracy governed by strict biblical law.
The religious right has been building a base of support for this concept of theocracy since the 1970s when Francis Schaeffer activated the evangelical right to take up the cause of Christianizing the United States.
The purpose of this post to introduce readers to the basic idea of Dominionism and its connection to radical right-wing politics in the John Birch Society. Many people have written extensively about the beliefs and plans of the radical evangelicals. I’ve included some references to these sources at the end of this piece.
Church and state candidates
Day after day, some right-wing politician claims direct, personal communication with God. Apparently, God is quite busy instructing his chosen politicians to run for President, Senate or Congress. Here are just a few of the folks who’ve been called.
- Mitt Romney, a Mormon with his own Messianic ideas, admitted that God had sent him a direct instruction to run for president.
- This revelation was a bit awkward coming on the heels of similar directives handed down from the Almighty to Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain.
- Not to be outdone, former Speaker of the House, Tom Delay, slipped out of his prison sentence in time for a four-hour conference call with the Lord, who directed Tom to write a book.
- Sarah Palin has been lifted up by God according to her own testimony.
- Ted Cruz has been anointed as the great leader of the coming Christian revival by friends of his father.
- Rick Santorum has described his run for President as walking in the path God’s leading him on.
- Mike Huckabee insists that the US Constitution has to be amended so it fits God’s standards. He’s also sure that Republicans lose when Christians don’t vote.
- Rand Paul has declared that America needs a Christian revival.
All Christian, all the time
These days in the GOP, it’s all Christian, all the time. The separation of Church and State is out.
Many of these right wingers are part of, or at least sympathetic to, the Dominionist movement-a subset of evangelical theology that envisions an America ruled by Christians and governed by biblical law.
Dominionism was founded by and promulgated by Rousas John Rushdoony. This stern, rigid theocrat, who lead the Christian Reconstructionist Movement, had a close personal friendship with Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society.
Rushdoony said that he admired the John Birch Society but never became a member.“Welch always saw things in terms of conspiracy,” Rushdoony explained, “and I always see things in terms of sin. ”
In my book, Wrapped in the Flag, I write about Rushdoony. Here’s a snippet from Chapter 16, “Carrying the Cross.”
In his magnum opus, Institutes of Biblical Law,’ published in 1973, Rushdoony described the Old Testament laws that would be the backbone of the new justice system in a Christian America, along with the punishments he envisioned for those who broke them.
Criminals would be burned at the stake, hanged and stoned, depending on their sins. The folks facing such punishment included gays, blasphemers, unchaste women, and incorrigible juvenile delinquents. Of course, doctors providing abortions and their patients would also be executed.
John Rushdoony understood that it would take time and hard work to bring his vision for America to fruition. He saw home schooling as the way to “train up a generation of people who know that this is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government.”
It was Rushdoony who first urged Christians to take “dominion over the land as the Bible commanded them to do.”
Ron Paul, the former Congressman from Texas and a John Birch Society favorite, ripped a page from Rushdoony’s playbook and published his own home school curriculum. To get things rolling, he hired Gary North to write and market the program.
Gary North, the son-in-law of Rushdoony, sounds just like his father-in-law when he talks about schooling. “So let us be blunt about it,” says Gary North. “We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government.Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”
When you read about Ron Paul’s home school curriculum and trace its ideas back to Rushdoony, you’ll understand why Ron Paul is such a dangerous man.
When you hear the term “Dominionists,” know that these are NOT just Christians; these people intend to turn the US into a replay of the Spanish Inquisition, this time run by radical evangelicals.
Thisfusion of radical right wing politics and radical right wing religion has been fueled by Robert Welch, John Rushdoony, Gary North, and Ron Paul along with a cadre of radical right-wing evangelicals.
I’m terrified by these zealots. They are the most dangerous kind. They believe they are chosen by God to bring America under the boot of the Old Testament.
For more information about the topic of Dominionism and the role of evangelical Christianity in Republican Politics:
- Frank Schaeffer, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back (2008).
- Jeff Sharlet, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (2008).
- Max Blumenthal, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party (2009).
- Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism (2007).
Ed. Note: Claire Conner's father was one of the founding members of the John Birch Society. Her book, "Wrapped in the Flag" is an inside look at how they operate and who they are.