August 21st, 2011
On August 14, Michelle Goldberg sounded the alarm about the close ties that two GOP candidates for president, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have with extreme elements of far-right Cristianism known as Dominionism. Today, A. Larry Ross responds with a well-intentioned, but ultimately hopelessly informed counterargument that “Christian Dominionism is a Myth.” Ross’s argument rests on this crux:
Although her well-intentioned article may resonate in the echo chambers of her fellow East Coast media elite, Goldberg misapplies a broad label that few, if any, evangelicals use or with which they identify.
Ross identifies himself as “a lifelong evangelical who understands the foundational tenets of belief in the doctrine of love, according to the principles of Jesus in the Great Commandment and the Sermon on the Mount.” I take him at his word. I think that description applies to almost all who identify as evangelicals — as well as almost all who identify as mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Mormon. Which means that it doesn’t really tell us much. And if the particular individuals that Goldberg discussed held themselves to that relatively simple and expansive definition, then there would hardly be any cause for alarm. But they don’t. And instead of understanding what they do believe to be equally essential articles of faith, Ross dismisses the entire phenomenon as ghosts dreamed up by the “East Cost media elite” (his words; how’s that for misapplying broad labels?) to pump more excitement into cable news channels:
Most Americans today consume news less for information than for validation, and gravitate to media outlets that reinforce opinions and a worldview they already embrace. Despite today’s proliferation of 24/7 news networks and social-media platforms, as everyone retreats to these silos of validation, we seem to have lost our public square, or at least the former civility of it.
Sojourners president Jim Wallis has observed that network-television viewers need to hear the collegial, respectful discussions among marquee leaders with opposing views that take place in network greenrooms moments before they aggressively attack and demonize each other in heated debates broadcast on point/counterpoint news programs.
But in discussing Dominionism, Goldberg doesn’t misapply anything. To the very point that Ross misses, she is actually applying a label to identify a theology that few, if any, evangelicals use or with which they identify, and she applies it specifically to that exceptionally tiny minority for whom the label does applies. These are not the people within the broad spectrum of Christianity, nor are they even those within the outer ten percent of its fringes. We’re not talking about the Pat Robertsons, the Joel Olsteens, the Albert Mohlers or the Rick Warrens. No, we’re talking about people who are far, far more fringe than anyone whose name immediately comes to mind whenever most people think of Christian Evangelicalism. And that is exactly Goldberg’s point. And when Goldberg says, “If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional,” that advice applies to mainstream Evangelicals as well. I suspect most of them don’t understand Dominionism either. Ross certainly doesn’t appear to.
Pretending that the so-called New Apostolic Movement and Seven Mountains Theology don’t exist or that those influenced by the Kansas City Prophets have not gained influence among particular presidential candidates here at home and political leaders abroad doesn’t make them go away. Granted, these are probably not the kind of people Ross runs into in his church, his friends and colleagues’ churches, or in any other circles he hands with. But just because they can’t be found under Ross’s bed or alongside him in the pews — or in Wallis’s greenroom sojourns — doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And when they are identified as close advisers credited for a big win in Iowa, or when they act as main speakers and moderators at a huge televised rally for a candidate’s benefit, the proper response is to ask hard questions of what they want for the country, not whistling and quickly walking away.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.