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Threat to America’s Freedom? It’s Not Islamic Law

31 August 2011 Loonwatch.com 19 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Statue of Liberty

Imagine, for a minute, that Muslims in America were openly advocating at meetings and conferences to take control of major sectors of public life, such as the government, media, and the law.

Imagine further that Muslims had built law schools, accredited no less, with the agenda to teach its students that America should be governed by Islamic law.

And imagine a little further that the leaders of this Muslim movement to Islamicize America were openly calling for America to become a Muslim nation.

And just imagine that all of the above was being absorbed into a major American political party and that some members of this Muslim mission were in Congress and were also looking to become the next President of the United States.

Of course, there would be mass hysteria and panic at such a notion. But none of the above is actually happening. Instead, replace Muslim with Christian and that is precisely what is currently occurring in America.

But of course, certain Islamophobes would have us worry about an imagined threat from Muslim-Americans–who make up a measly 2% of the U.S. population–rather than the Christian groups out there who are actively working to Christianize America, and who have been working at this for over three decades with the aid of one of the two main political parties.

Many of these evangelical Christian groups are actively looking to restrict the rights of women, members of the LGBT community, and to force their religious viewpoint on to the rest of the country.  Worse yet, advocates of Christian dominionism call for world conquest, to subjugate the infidel nations of the world to Christian domination.

Here is an excellent article from Sarah Posner on dominionism (emphasis added)–just imagine how utterly insane Islamophobes would go if Muslim were substituted for Christian here:

The Christian right’s “dominionist” strategy

by Sarah Posner

An article in the Texas Observer last month about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s relationship with followers of a little-known neo-Pentecostal movement sparked a frenzied reaction from many commentators: Dominionism! Spiritual warfare! Strange prophecies!

All the attention came in the weeks before and after “The Response,” Perry’s highly publicized prayer rally modeled on what organizers believe is the “solemn assembly” described in Joel 2, in which “end-times warriors” prepare the nation for God’s judgment and, ultimately, Christ’s return. This “new” movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, is one strand of neo-Pentecostalism that draws on the ideas of dominionism and spiritual warfare. Its adherents display gifts of the spirit, the religious expression of Pentecostal and charismatic believers that includes speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing and a belief in signs, wonders and miracles. These evangelists also preach the “Seven Mountains” theory of dominionism: that Christians need to take control of different sectors of public life, such as government, the media and the law.

The NAR is not new, but rather derivative of charismatic movements that came before it. Its founder, C. Peter Wagner, set out in the 1990s to create more churches, and more believers. Wagner’s movement involves new jargon, notably demanding that believers take control of the “Seven Mountains” of society (government, law, media and so forth), but that’s no different from other iterations of dominionism that call on Christians to enter these fields so that they are controlled by Christians.

After Perry’s prayer rally, Rachel Maddow featured a segment on her MSNBC show in which she warned,

“The main idea of the New Apostolic Reformation theology is that they are modern day prophets and apostles. They believe they have a direct line to God … the way that they’re going to clear the way for it [the end of the world] is by infiltrating and taking over politics and government.”

Maddow’s ahistorical treatment of the NAR, however, overlooked several important realities. For anyone who has followed the growth of neo-Pentecostal movements, and in particular the coalition-building between the political operatives of the religious right and these lesser-known but still influential religious leaders, the NAR is just another development in the competitive, controversial, outrageous, authoritarian and often corrupt tapestry of the world of charismatic evangelists.

Before the NAR came along, plenty of charismatic leaders believed themselves to be prophets and apostles with a direct line to God. They wrote books about spiritual warfare, undergirded by conspiracy theories about liberals and Satan and homosexuality and feminism and more (my own bookshelves are filled with them). They preached this on television. They preached it at conferences. They made money from it. They all learned from each other.

Before the NAR, Christian right figures promoted dominionism, too, and the GOP courted these religious leaders for the votes of their followers. Despite a recent argument by the Daily Beast’s Michelle Goldberg that “we have not seen this sort of thing at the highest levels of the Republican Party before,” it’s been there since at least 1980. Michele Bachmann is a product of it; so was Mike Huckabee. Ronald Reagan pandered to it; so did both Bushes; so does Perry.

In 2007, I saw Cindy Jacobs and other “apostles” lay hands on Shirley Forbes, wife of Rep. Randy Forbes, the founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, which boasts some Democrats as members and many of the GOP’s leading lights. “You are going to be the mother of an army,” they told Forbes, prophesying that she would “speak the power of the word into politics and government. Hallelujah!”

The idea that Christians have a sacred duty to get involved in politics, the law and media, and otherwise bring their influence to bear in different public spheres is the animating principle behind the religious right. If you attend a Values Voters Summit, the annual Washington confab hosted by the Family Research Council, you’ll hear speakers urging young people to go into media, or view Hollywood as a “mission field.” That’s because they insistthese institutions have been taken over by secularists who are causing the downfall of America with their anti-Christian beliefs.

A few days ago, the Washington Post’s religion columnist, Lisa Miller, took Goldberg and Maddow to task for overhyping dominionism as a plot to take over the world. Miller, though, misses the boat, too, by neglecting to acknowledge and describe the infrastructure the religious right has built, driven by the idea of dominionism.

Oral Roberts University Law School, where Bachmann earned her law degree, was founded with this very notion in mind: to create an explicitly Christian law school. Herb Titus, the lawyer converted by Christian Reconstructionism who was instrumental in its launch, describes his mission in developing a Christian law school as a fulfillment of a “dominion mandate.” After ORU was absorbed into Regent University in the 1980s, Titus was the mentor to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who last week was elevated to chair of the Republican Governors Association and is widely speculated to be a possible vice-presidential pick.

Christian Reconstructionists, and their acolytes of the Constitution Party, believe America should be governed by biblical law. In her 1995 book, “Roads to Dominion: Right Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States,” Sara Diamond describes the most significant impact of Reconstructionism on dominionism:

“the diffuse influence of the ideas that America was ordained a Christian nation and that Christians, exclusively, were to rule and reign.” While most Christian right activists were “not well-versed in the arcane teachings” of Christian Reconstructionism, she wrote, “there was a wider following for softer forms of dominionism.”

For the Christian right, it’s more a political strategy than a secret “plot” to “overthrow” the government, even as some evangelists describe it in terms of “overthrowing” the powers of darkness (i.e., Satan), and even some more radical, militia-minded groups do suggest such a revolution. In general, though, the Christian right has been very open about its strategy and has spent a lot of money on it: in the law, as just one example, there are now two ABA-accredited Christian law schools, at Regent (which absorbed the ORU law school) and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. There are a number of Christian law firms, like the Alliance Defense Fund, formed as a Christian counterweight to the ACLU. Yet outsiders don’t notice that this is all an expression of dominionism, until someone from that world, like Bachmann, hits the national stage.

John Turner, University of South Alabama historian and author of “Bill Bright and the Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America,” said that the NAR’s “Seven Mountains” dominionism is “just a catchy phrase that encapsulates what Bright and many other evangelical leaders were already doing — trying to increase Christian influence (they would probably use more militant phrases like ‘capture’) in the spheres of education, business and government.”

Bright, like Perry’s prayer cohorts, believed America was in trouble (because of the secularists) and needed to repent. One of the most well-known evangelicals in the country, Bright had agreed to let Virginia Beach preacher John Gimenez, a charismatic, organize the rally, despite evangelical discomfort with charismatic religious expression. In his book, Turner describes the Washington for Jesus rally of 1980:

From the platform, Bright offered his interpretation of the source of the country’s problems, asserting that “[w]e’ve turned from God and God is chastening us.” “You go back to 1962 and [196]3 [when the Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer and Bible-reading],” Bright argued, “and you’ll discovered a series of plagues that came upon America.” Bright cited the Vietnam War, increased drug use, racial conflict, Watergate, and a rise in divorce, teenage pregnancy, and alcoholism as the result of those decisions. “God is saying to us,” he concluded, “‘Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!’” … “Unless we repent and turn from our sin,” warned Bright, “we can expect to be destroyed.”

Unlike Perry’s rally, Ronald Reagan the candidate wasn’t present at the Washington for Jesus rally. At a 2007 gathering at his church, Gimenez recounted how he and Bright later met with President Reagan, and Bright told him, “You were elected on April 29, 1980, when the church prayed that God’s will would be done.”

In August 1980, though, after Reagan had clinched the nomination, he did appear at a “National Affairs Briefing” in Texas, where televangelist James Robison (also instrumental in organizing Perry’s event) declared, “The stage is set. We’ll either have a Hitler-type takeover, or Soviet domination, or God is going to take over this country.” After Robison spoke, Reagan took the stage and declared to the 15,000 activists assembled by Moral Majority co-founder Ed McAteer, “You can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.”

That was also a big moment for Huckabee, who worked as Robison’s advance man. It was even imitated by then-candidate Barack Obama, who met with a group of evangelicals and charismatics in Chicago and repeated Reagan’s infamous line. Obama’s group included publisher Stephen Strang (an early endorser of Huckabee’s 2008 presidential bid) and his son Cameron, whose magazines Charisma and Relevant help promote the careers of the self-declared modern-day prophets and apostles. Huckabee appeared with Lou Engle at his 2008 The Call rally on the National Mall (like Perry’s, billed as a “solemn assembly”) in which Engle exhorted his prayer warriors to battlesatanic forces to defeat “Antichrist legislation.”

When I interviewed former Bush family adviser Doug Wead for my 2008 book, “God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters,” he gave me a lengthy memo he compiled for George H.W. Bush in 1985, to prepare him for his 1988 presidential run. In the memo, he identified a thousand “targets,” religious leaders across the country whose followers, Wead believed, could be mobilized to the voting booth.

In my book, I examined the theology and politics of the Word of Faith movement (also known as the prosperity gospel) and how Republicans cultivated the leading lights of the movement. Primarily because of television, but also because of the robust (and profitable) speaking circuit these evangelists maintain, they have huge audiences. All that was in spite of — just as the scrutiny of NAR figures now is revealing — outlandish, strange and even heretical theology. What’s more, Word of Faith figures have endlessly been embroiled in disputes not just with their theological critics, but with watchdogs and former parishioners who charge they took their money for personal enrichment, promising that God would bring them great health and wealth if they would only “sow a seed.”

At Gimenez’s 2007 event, Engle and the other “apostles” were not the stars; rather, the biggest draw was Word of Faith televangelist Kenneth Copeland. In 1998, writing to Karl Rove, Wead called Copeland “arguably one of the most important religious leaders in the nation.” At Gimenez’s church, Copeland, who has boasted that his ministry has brought in more the $1 billion over his career, preached for two hours. The sanctuary was packed, with the audience hanging on every word. Gimenez introduced him as “God’s prophet,” and Copeland urged them to “get rid of the evening news and the newspaper,” study “the uncompromised word of the Holy Ghost,” and take “control over principalities.”

The commenters who have jumped on the NAR frequently overstate the size of its following. Engle’s events, for example, are often smaller than advertised, including a poorly attended revival at Liberty University in April 2010, where one would expect a ready-made audience. When I’ve covered these sorts of events, including smaller conferences by local groups inspired by figures they see on television, it’s often hard to see how the often meandering preachers are going to take over anything, even while it’s clear they cultivate an authoritarian hold on their followers. I meet a lot of sincere, frequently well-intentioned people who believe they must be “obedient” to God’s word as imparted by the “prophets.”

Most chilling, though, is the willingness to engage in what’s known in the Word of Faith world as “revelation knowledge,” or believing, as Copeland exhorted his audience to do, that you learn nothing from journalism or academia, but rather just from the Bible and its modern “prophets.” It is in this way that the self-styled prophets have had their greatest impact on our political culture: by producing a political class, and its foot soldiers, who believe that God has imparted them with divine knowledge that supersedes what all the evil secularists would have you believe.

Last week CNN’s Jack Cafferty asked, “How much does it worry you if both Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have ties to dominionism?” That worry crops up every election cycle. If people really understood dominionism, they’d worry about it between election cycles.

However, it’s the Moozlums we’re supposed to worry about.

To clarify though, LoonWatch is not pressing the panic button: the threat from the religious right is very real, but we don’t think it’s a doomsday situation.  All we’re saying is that the threat from the Christian right is certainly greater than this imaginary threat from Muslims and all this Sharia-nonsense.

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19 Comments »

  1. I know Muslims who are like, bffl’s with Christain people, ok. Muslims don’t hate Christains or Jews for that matter.

    The Prophet was approached by a few Muslim men who told him that other Muslims were attacking a Jewish man living next to him. The Prophet halted the fight at once, asked forgivness from the Jewsh man and scolded the ‘Muslims’ and recited an ayah (verse) saying to give tolerance to everyone no matter who they believed in. He condemned their actions and made sure they never bothered that man again.

    Look, the Muslims havve no intention of making American a Muslim country. We have Muslim countries overseas and they’re overrun by nutty dictators. It’s hard back home anyway. And we just want to live comfortably with our families, keep our jobs, keep our kids in school, and no one cares if their neighbor is Jewish or Christain, and yes I’ve heard of some Muslim kids beating up Jewish kids and I know for a fact those are misled and angry Muslim kids and even though sometimes non-muslims might push it, no matter what a Muslim shouldn’t fight them cause of differenc in religion, cause we are equal in God’s eyes.

    In my neighborhood, we have about 4 Muslim families and we all are very calm and good people. We have Catholic and Christian neighbors, and none of them are prejudice against us or vice versa. Sure some people moved away after 9/11 but there was an elderly couple who came to our house that very day and said “We know your people aren’t like that, we believe you are good loving people who work hard, you are always welcome in our home” That made my mother and the elderly lady cry.

    I read once “They’ll either convert you or kill you”Sure we’d like it if someone converted, but wouldn’t you be glad if someone you loved became a Christain? But no matter what, we won’t kill you. We could care less if you believe in God, Buddha, Ganesh or nothing! Seriously these accustaions are out of line.

    (Color of Water, by James McBride. his mother was Jewish but she converted to Christianity because she felt happy, safe, etc. If she had gone Muslim, people woulda been ALL over her. It was a beautiful book that provides alot of good insight into religion and race in the 40’s-80’s)

  2. Of course extremism is going to be bad, no matter what the religion, because the extremism depurifies the faith. So, given that most of us can figure that out already, let’s move on from Christian and Republican bashing. It’s getting boring already and is an example of the stereotyping you people here claim to hate. Those who ARE the extremists aren’t going to care what you write, because to them followers of other religions are the enemy.

  3. Now France is a secular country, the have synagogues, and Churches…..people walk around wearing yarmulkas and nun outfits lie its nothing. Which is cool. people in A lot of Arabian and Middle Eastern countries all the time, but if a Muslim walked around with her Hijab, all hell would break loose. Did you know you can’t wear hijab if your in Public, going to school, going anywhere actually? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having a “secular” country, and the same goes with Russia too, my friend who’s part Russian is too afraid to wear her hijab in Moscow because she knows she’ll get shot. If you say your a secualr country, then ACT like a secular country. Jesus Christ people. Ha.

  4. …I’m not really bashing anyone. I dont believe in bashing other religions, cause all religions have somethig cool to offer. I like reading from the Psalms and I’m actually trying to learn hebrew (not just because Im PAlestinian) but because I wana see if I can read some torah verses, and I love reading about Hinduism, I find it really interesting. So don’t blame me.

    And I know extremists, no matter what relgion, will always be misled and ignorant fools, but you have to protest their beliefs no matter what. if people keep listening to them, this country, no this whole world, will be in mass chaos. It’s already starting.

  5. I love the image of the statue of liberty holding a crucifix in place of the torch (the torch being a libertine, Masonic reference to illumination).

    For all the countries who embrace Islamic principles, it is perfectly acceptable to display the emblems of their faith.

    All the more reason why Moslems will support America’s need to express our Christian origins and mainstream contingency.

  6. James D Chamberlain, i totally understand your perspective, but isn’t America the land where people practice ALL religions, so putting the cross everywhere and saying this is a theocracy would be somewhat hypocritical to what our forefathers said.

    By the way, the Statue of Liberty was originally designed by Muslims in Egypt, who tried to sell the design, th French took it ad sold it to the U.S. where it was built and stands so beautifully today. Whoever says Muslims hate liberty and freedom is full of sh*t, cause they designed it first.

  7. by th way, it’s “Muslims” not MOSLEMS. C’mon guys, if we can get the word “Christianity” right….

  8. Actually, i messed up on the history, but Muslims did originally have their design for the Statue of Liberty.

  9. look at that i got my history wrong too. it was in the 80s. anyways i see the whole leadership of the turkish army, the defenders of secularism, all stepped down a little while ago.

    http://www.care2.com/causes/turkey-ends-ban-on-headscarves-in-universities.html

  10. Ahh mike I knew you’d be here lol

  11. moderator cut down my first comment. but i’m learning i copied it to a word doc.

    elle,
    being secular only means that you don’t endose any religion. it doesn’t mean you can’t restrict religious observances. if you believed that your god demanded a sacrifice of a virgin on the summer solstice every year, do you not think that a secular state would outlaw such observances?
    here i posted a link to the french constitution?????????
    aren’t the turks a declared secular state? didn’t ataturk ban headscarfs from universities in 1923?
    here was the wiki page on the statue of liberty??????
    don’t think the eqytian designed it. but that ismail pashda looks like an interesting character. port said, that’s funny i just emailed iman said.

  12. omg i may have just figured it out…..you are only allowed one link per post?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Liberty

  13. I don’t think Islam ever commanded the scarifice of people, just sheep and lambs…possibly cows if the sheep aren’t available, but most religions (except hindus) eat and slaughter cows, right?

    Well it’s good you did, I prefer Imam Kifah or Zakariyah but hey, they’re all pretty great Imams, so good for you.

    And excuse me for thinking secular meant allowing all religions, guess we can’t ALL be America, land of the free. (rolling eyes)

  14. I think so, cause it’s spam…I think.

  15. If many articles like this pop up I will be able to start my own daily called Christianaphobia.

    No matter how unfair it is your not going to help people overcome distrust of Muslims by attacking Christianity.

  16. elle,

    i wasn’t claiming that islam has human sacrifice. its a hypothetical. i didn’t mean “you” as in you personally but you as in any person. sorry i will try to choose my words more wisely in the future. anyways (i’m just making this up as an exapmle) let’s say that the mayans worshiped a sun god and practiced human sacrifice, until the christian beat it out of them. let’s say that some guy in america says he is a descendant of the last mayan high priest and he has been studing mayan religion and he believes he can counter the mayan calender ending, and the end of the world on 12/21/2012 by sacrificing his 13 year old daughter. and she is ok with it. do you think the state would have a right to disallow such behavior?

    appearnently there isno easy definition of secular/Laïcité http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secularism

    don’t think it was spam? it’s the two links above. the french constitution and the statue of liberty wiki page. you just can’t put two links in the same comment box appearently?

  17. hey elle,

    i’m back

    btw MOSLEMS is an excepted spelling, a little bit old school by none the less….

    “A Muslim, also spelled Moslem,[1] is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Qur’an, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. “Muslim” is the Arabic term for “one who submits to God”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim

    someone once….more or lest called me uneducated for spelling koran as such. a quess it’s a translation thing again?

  18. Criley

    You should read my other comments, no muslim is attacking Christianity, this PAGE isn’t attacking Christianity, alright, even if this was a theocracy I wouldn’t really mind, so long as they don’t attack or jail Muslims or Jews for a different religion, but the Prophet said that Christianity was known for it’s fairness and kindness, so it’s pretty safe to say that even under a theocracy Muslims could be treated fairly. I just wish the goddamn countries back home with the corrupt Arab leaders could do the same. But then again, in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon christains and some jews wlk around freely. It’s the ones that claim their following Shariah law…..the Prophet didn’t need Shariah Law to lead the Muslims peacefully and judge them fairly, and if a Christian or Jew wanted to live there freely then by all means they could.

    ANYWAY, no one is attacking Christianity, this is just paranoia spreading like wildfire.

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