Those words come from a 2006 seminar I developed about the threat to our nation coming from the Religious Right. That was 17 years ago. Few people listened because many thought the movement was coming to an end. And here we are.
Time published an article today with this headline: “Christian Nationalism’s Popularity Should Be a Wake Up Call.” This excerpt from The Midnight Kingdom: A History of Power, Paranoia, and the Coming Crisis by Jared Yates Sexton draws from his personal story and the history of similar religiously-based movements through the centuries. While he acknowledges that the current state of today’s movement is not yet there, he describes where it could go:
“The ‘solutions’ are appalling and unsurprisingly they echo the extreme measures necessitated by a looming apocalypse. The evil traitors must be stopped at all costs. Some want them in prison, others need to see them swinging from every light pole. Virtually everything, including our government, elections, economy, and popular culture, are controlled by a sinister conspiracy that is, depending on the day, either explicitly the domain of Jewish puppet masters or simply the Devil himself at the controls, and so seizing power and using cleansing violence and the muscle of the state are the only means of deliverance.”
You can pre-order the book at his website and watch this video interview with Jared Yates Sexton where he talks about part of what’s in the book.
Every day now, we learn of widespread efforts by governors and legislators, and many in the U.S. Congress, to enforce their religious and political beliefs on the nation. That was not true 17 years ago. The movement grew in power in the intervening years and now Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, and the Florida legislature, for instance, are forcing teachers and librarians to remove books and stop teaching what they consider to be wrong, including almost anything about racism and white supremacy, the rights of women for reproductive freedom, and LGBTQ rights.
“There is a small group of Christian fundamentalist leaders whose influence and power have grown over the past 30 years to the point that they play a key role in determining the laws and policies of our government.”
I wrote those words in 2006 as part of my seminar. This movement has now seized power from local school boards to many states to the federal government. Not all conservative Christians, of course, are part of the movement. I also wrote this in 2006:
“The Christian fundamentalism of the religious Right is what evangelical Christian activist, Jim Wallis (of Sojourners) calls “bad theology” and “bad religion” (in God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get it). What we are describing is not the Christian religion, not even Christian conservatives and evangelicals as a group.”
You may have seen by now a term I didn’t even know before I did that seminar – Dominionism. “The term may be unfamiliar even to many who support the values,” I wrote,
“but the ideas are widespread. D. James Kennedy, pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida (in 2006) heads a movement to Reclaim America for Christ.” Dr. Kennedy died a year later, but other leaders came to power and are far more zealous and unbending, and hungry for even more power.
Even though many who now claim with pride to be Christian nationalists may not be familiar with dominionism, their goals are similar. Some in public view (see my posts on the Reawaken America Tour) echo these words written in 1986:
“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.”
George Grant, The Changing of the Guard, Biblical Principles for Political Action: Biblical Blueprint Series, 1987, pp. 50-51.
Jared Yates Sexton, in this excerpt, issues the same “wake up call” I spoke about in 2006. The dangers have increased. The crisis is already here. If Christian nationalism remains a mystery to you, something you wonder about, and you would like to know more, you might want to take this “Introduction to Christian Nationalism” course.