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An Introduction to the Christian Theocratic / Nationalistic Movement

 

 

 

 

“I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good… Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called on by God to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.” Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, in The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana 8/16/93

“So let us be blunt about it: 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 be get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”
–Gary North,
quoted in Albert J. Menendez, Visions of Reality: What Fundamentalist Schools Teach, Prometheus Books, 1993

"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less... Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ." From The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action by George Grant, published in 1987 by Dominion Press

Some Christians do not like democracy. As Betty Fischer, director of Kids in Ministry International and founder and director of Kids on Fire summer camp in North Dakota, noted in the Jesus Camp documentary, democracy is a problem because it "treats everyone as equals." Therein lies the fundamental reason why Christian Nationalists are striving to turn America into a theocracy (literally, "rule by God"): the belief that (certain) Christians should receive preferential treatment in America and control the judicial system. What do they view as the greatest obstacles in elevating Christians to elite, ruling status?  Pluralism and "secular humanism."

Who are these Christians who would replace democracy with theocracy? 

Firstly, the theocratic movement assumes a variety of nuances and labels, including Christian Theocracy, Christian Reconstructionism, Christian Dominionism, Dominion Theology, and Theonomy.

Theonomy is the broadest of terms, positing rule by God's laws (Old Testament), which itself is a foundation for theocracy. In general, Christian Dominionism and Dominion Theology are overarching constructs demanding the enforced rule of God over the world, thus intersecting with theocracy proper. Christian Theocracy / Christian Reconstructionism, in turn, are the specific, concrete manifestations of the rule of God and God's laws in government and society. Theocracy / Reconstructionism does not necessarily mean that clerics rule or reign over government, but more typically is expressed in civil (state) "Christian" leaders allied with clergy in the enforcement of God's laws (Old Testament laws, inevitably) upon a nation or state at large. The colonial theocracies in early America were an example of this type of government.

Today, the ideological founders and leaders of these related movements at large include(d) Rousas John Rushdooney, Francis A. Schaeffer, Gary North and Gary DeMar (see History links below). The origins of Christian Reconstructionism are traced to Orthodox Presbyterian pastor Rushdoony's 1959 publication of By What Standard?, developing into a formal movement with the establishment of the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. Rushdoony's publication of The Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) made inroads among evangelicals and solidified the Recontstructionist movement.

Many leaders among today's Religious Right, although certainly not all, have embraced Christian Reconstructionism. Many conservative Christians at large advocate theocratic principles in a quest to conquer America, convinced that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and (now) needs to return to her "Christian heritage." Pseudo-historian David Barton, through his Wall Builders organization, has perhaps done the most to propagate the myth of America founded as a Christian nation. The theocratic movement is based on historical falsehoods (for example, the erroneous claim that most of America's founding fathers were evangelical Christians) and a belief that Old Testament laws should apply to American governance.

How can one distinguish Christian theocrats from the larger Religious Right?  Look for certain code language and phrases, such as "Biblical Worldview," "Christian Worldview," "Reconstruction," "Dominonist," and "Theonomy." In addition, phraseology such as "protecting America's moral compass" or "preserving America's family values" is often coded language utilized by theocratic-leaning organizations and individuals.

How are Christian theocrats spreading their views? In addition to private Christian schooling, Christian home schooling is one of the primary avenues of teaching Dominionism and Christian theocracy. The Christian home school movement is led by the national Home School Legal Defense Association. Even otherwise seemingly-respectful Christian home school organizations are actively advocating theocratic views. For example, the Georgia Home Education Association (GHEA) headlined Reconstructionist founder Gary Demar at their 2007 annual conference. Note the many homeschool-related entities listed below. For more information, read "Turning Our Children Into God's Warriors."

In addition, journalist Jeff Sharlet offers an intriguing and well-researched inside look at a secretive fundamentalist group called The Family, a high-level and political cadre of militant, capitalistic, elite fundamentalists with fascist foundations who for decades have quietly manipulated politicians and political parties and worked alongside some of the greatest mass-murdering dictators of all time, in an effort to effect theocracy and unregulated free market economics worldwide. Sharlett's particular contribution to the discussion of Christian theocracy is his documentation of the marriage of unfettered capitalism to religious fundamentalism. In short, the elite fundamentalists and their capitalistic gospel that Sharlet identifies set the tone and arrange the playing field for popular expressions of fundamentalism.

Below is a partial listing of entities that espouse Christian theocratic tenets, defined, at the minimum, as the belief that Christians should receive preferential and privileged treatment from the American government and in the public square, and conservative Christian morality should be enforced by judicial law. Some would go much further by entirely revoking democracy in favor of governing according to Old Testament Law.  Finally, read Gary DeMar's apologetic for Christian Theocracy.

Theocratic Organizations

Alliance for Marriage
America's Foundation - Rick Santorum's Political Action Committee
American Center for Law and Justice
American Family Association
American Vision - founded by Gary Demar, leading theocratic ideologue
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
Center for Arizona Policy
Chalcedon Foundation - led by R. J. Rushdoony
Christian Action Network
Christian Business Men's Committee
Christian Coalition of America
Christian Exodus
ChristianAmerica.Com
Citizens for Excellence in Education - arm of National Association of Christian Educators
CitizenLink.Com - an arm of Focus on the Family
Coalition on Revival -
Applying Biblical Principles to Every Sphere of Life and Thought
Concerned Women for America
Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens
Coral Ridge Ministries - led by D. James Kennedy
Council for National Policy - secret government council policy formed by Tim LaHaye
Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Creation Resource Foundation
Eagle Forum
Family Policy Network
Family Research Council
Free Congress Foundation
Home School Foundation - funded by the HSLDA
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
Institute for Christian Economics - led by Gary North
National Association of Christian Educators (NACE)
Joshua Generation - aimed at 11 to 19 year olds; affiliated with Patrick Henry College
National Center for Home Education - affiliated with HSLDF

National Clergy Council
National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI)- funded by HSLDF
Operation Rescue

Restore America
Rutherford Institute
Traditional Values Coalition
Vision America - founded by Rick Scarborough, Baptist
Vision Forum Ministries
Wall Builders - led by David Barton
Worldview Weekend

Theocratic Educational Institutions

Patrick Henry College - for homeschooled children, partner of HSLDF

Regent University - "Regent" refers to Christian rulers who will govern the nation

Theocratic Publications and Media

A Christian Manifesto - address by Francis A. Schaeffer; summary of theocratic views
A Manifesto for the Christian Church - endorsed by the major theocratic players
American Vision Home School Online Store

Biblical Worldview Magazine
Citizen Magazine - published by Focus on the Family
Civilized Revolt (Formerly Virtue Magazine)
FreeBooks - from the Institute for Christian Economics
Generations - Radio Program
Home School Heartbeat (Radio program)
LifeWay Homeschool, Southern Baptist Convention - affiliated with HSLDF & NHERI
WorldView Magazine

History of Reconstructionism /Domionism

A Brief History of Christian Reconstruction (1994, by the Public Eye)
The Despoiling of America (2004)