Christian Nationalism

In this election cycle, both major party tickets are talking about their Christian faith. Obama has been discussing his since 04. McCain has been not been comfortable discussing his–and he has had some controversy with his own party over the religious right. Even Biden and Palin discuss their faith, and it is only a matter of time before both Vice Presidential candidates receive additional scrutiny for their faith. In fact, I believe before the election cycle has finished, a conservative catholic bishop will inform his diocese that voting for Obama is a sin, and they will not be eligible for Communion . In fact, its already started.

The discussion of the candidates faith led me to this article, a discussion of Christian Nationalism. Two years ago, the author, Michelle Goldberg, appeared on Fresh Air. I plan on listening to that when I get home tonight, because the teaser she has on the Talk 2 Action site is unbelievable. Michelle talks about Dominionism, which she summarized on the website as:

The goal of Christian nationalist politics is the restoration of the imagined Christian nation. As George Grant, former executive director of D. James Kennedy’s influential Coral Ridge Ministries, wrote in his book “The Changing of the Guard:”

“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.”

This is terrifying. The core idea–that the US is fundamentally a Christian Nation–is wholly incorrect and inappropriate.

If we swap Jesus Christ for Allah, we’d have language fit for radical fundamentalist Islam. Why is the language okay for JHC, but not for Allah?

I am not anti-religion. I firmly believe that everyone has the right to worship, or not worship, as they see fit. When I don’t want to hear it, I’ll walk away. When they want to make it state law, I’ll put up a fight. This language of the Dominionists make it clear that they want religious law in place of secular law. This view is incompatible with the constitution–and individuals who hold on to this view of Church and State have no business in any government office where they swear to uphold the Constitution.

59 thoughts on “Christian Nationalism

  1. Ah, a conservative or Christian (or both) must be in the spotlight. It’s time to trot out the dominionist arguments again. Very few, if any, in the Christian community actually have the guts to hold such an extreme position, but we keep hitting the panic button as if it were a real issue. Don’t we have better arguments?

  2. You mean totally fringe nobody-ever-pays-attention-to-them figures like James Dobson, who surely only has a half dozen followers and who politicians never pander to?

    Interesting choice of words, too: “actually have the guts.” Am I to understand that the only thing keeping more christians from embracing dominionism is fear? I don’t know about you, but I usually say “have the guts” when I refer to an idea which the subject oughta find worthy of supporting.

  3. While I agree that many might not want to see this carried out to its fullest extent, the idea that Xians should be in office and the America as a Xian country founded on Xian principles is not only alive, but it thrives in the Xian community.

    To ignore this is to fail to understand how people like Bush manage to get an upswell of support.

  4. There’s a great difference between the false canard of dominionism (i.e., a strict theocracy) and the notion that America was founded on and should be run on Christian principles. (It’s okay, you can say the word.)

    Real Christian principles have more to do with love and concern for one’s neighbor than with systems of governance. If Christians want their voices heard, then they better be involved in politics, but again, that’s not the same thing as dominionism.

    When I say that most Christians ‘don’t have the guts’ for such a venture, I mean to say that they are intimated by the possibility that they might need to live their lives like Christ did.

  5. I disagree. Since I was raised in a Xian home. My parents were Moral Majority. They believed a lot of this stuff. They worked towards it. My mother still believes that America should be helmed by Xian leaders.

    The “real” Xians (emphasis yours) you talk about do just what you say. But there are plenty “unreal” Xians who believe that they are doing God’s work by promoting the idea that until America gets its act back together and back in line with God’s word, that it is doomed to suffer.

    Those peope are more afraid of God’s judgement than Christ’s love. And, having spent so much time in the presence of people like them, they are the reason I no longer consider myself a Xian.

    Also, I can say the word, sweetheart. I say it every time I type Xian. I type what I do for the expeidency, because I already screw up enough words when I type.

  6. So, first you say “It’s time to trot out the dominionist arguments again. Very few, if any, in the Christian community actually have the guts to hold such an extreme position” and then you say “When I say that most Christians ‘don’t have the guts’ for such a venture [venture being dominionism, going by your previous statement], I mean to say that they are intimated by the possibility that they might need to live their lives like Christ did.” I am reading this as Dominionism is a direct consequence of living your life like Christ did, which may be a daunting prospect.

    Now, I’m sure we can all agree that living your life the way Christ did is the goal (effectively reachable or not) of every Christian, right?

    It really sounds to me like you’re just trying to say real, ture Christians need be by extension, dominionist. But you know, not really, because that sounds scary to some people, so I’m just gonna focus on the love part.

    I am curious to hear what you see as the difference between “theocracy” to “running a country on religious (i.e. Christian) principles,” as well.

  7. It was stated that George Washington never based this country on the Christian religion in his treaty to Tripoli, Texas calls itself a masonic country. There is a seperation of church and state, but not of freemasonry and state. I am from South Africa, and the day Nelson Mandela took over, is the day that South Africa was converted to the Jewish faith – and believe you me all hell broke loose, there was a mass killing of black on white, and then black on black, who knows if that will happen here?? hope not

  8. JCemmanuel: That’s factually inaccurate and well beyond good taste. Please filter your thoughts before posting them on the internet.

    Steve: Torteya has asked a number of questions that I would have asked; however, to be clear, are you saying that the Dominionists are a fringe element that are being invoked by liberals to scare others?

  9. It may be a bogeyman, but it is a legitimate inquiry to seek out whether elected officials are interested in or sympathetic to breaking down barriers between church and state. This is especially true of the executive branch, which has the power to appoint judges who will interpret the law. It might not be a decisive issue, but it is worth consideration. Anything can be dismissed as fear mongering, Steven. However, when a candidate explicitly asserts that their faith is operative in their formulation of policy, it becomes legitimate for us as voters to ask, “in what way?”
    On a slightly different note, I have heard the assertion of what “real” Christians, or Muslims, or whatever ought to believe too many times to give it much credence. Without a valid external authority to validate such claims, there is little to distinguish them. With that said, the idea that someone should have religious or ethical beliefs and NOT carry them into office is ridiculous. As voters, it is incumbent upon us to determine the placement of that fine line between religiously informed ethics within the public sphere, especially government, and a desire to rewrite the rules of the public sphere. What Marty indicates is that Dominionists, in their desire to rewrite the laws of this country to conform to their vision of christian ethics, have placed themselves firmly accross the secular divide. That camp having made their opinions public, it is fair game for us to ask…who’s been visiting over there for a sip of the Koolaid?

  10. By the way, there’s still nothing that Steve has said that leads me to believe anything but that it is his view that the only thing keeping a real christian from the path of dominionism is lack of commitment.

    He sure tried to focus on the gentler parts of dominionism (love, etc), but I honestly can’t read what he’s said and reach any other conclussion.

  11. As voters, it is incumbent upon us to determine the placement of that fine line between religiously informed ethics within the public sphere, especially government, and a desire to rewrite the rules of the public sphere.

    I’m with you all the way. I’m a firm believer that Christians (and muslims and atheists) should be involved at all levels of the political process, but not with the goal of establishing either theocracy or ‘atheocracy’.

    You missed my point. Dominionism is a red herring. There may be a few adherents, even among popular evangelicals, but it’s a sideshow at best, and not in keeping any reasonable interpretation of Scripture. That said, there will always be those across the spectrum who are simply interested in power for the sake of power, Christian or not.

    The ‘lack of commitment’ I referenced was in regard to a real biblical lifestyle, as opposed to giving lip service to Christian principles.

  12. Steve:
    Thank you for sticking around and debating this out with me and my commenters.

    According to the folks at Talk to Action, Sarah Palin and the church she belongs to, are not explicitly Dominionist, yet they use their rhetoric. Fringe or not, this shows the rise of Dominionist language in the Religious Right. Are you also saying that this is not troublesome?

  13. Look, you can go with whatever definition of “fringe” you like. Not to mention that you haven’t offered a single argument as to why I should believe this is indeed “fringy.”

    But here’s the thing, however mainstream you want to call it, the main face of Dominionism today, Rev. James Dobson, is a quite prominent figure within the religious conservative movement which has been crucial to having conservatives in power for over two decades.

    Even McCain who once called him a negative force has come around and asked for his support, knowing that no Republican can get elected for President without the support of this segment of the base. A base who seems to still today, grant considerable legitimacy to this person.

    So, as fringe as you may want to call it, it -is- an underlying pillar in the christian conservative movement. Every single conservative preacher I’ve ever heard off has talked about the need to putting real christians in office, and enact christian values into laws (I assume you’ve heard about the whole Ten Commandments on Govt. Buildings, for example).

    If you would like to persuade me otherwise, I’d like to hear what you are basing your opinion on, that one ought dismiss this line of thinking as unimportant. It just doesn’t match what I see, sorry.

  14. According to the folks at Talk to Action, Sarah Palin and the church she belongs to, are not explicitly Dominionist, yet they use their rhetoric.

    That’s like saying that because I flew through Rome once I must be a Catholic, or I went to New York, so I must be a Mets fan.

    Because Sarah Palin is a Christian, she presumably acknowledges the Bible. You can take words and concepts from the Bible and use them in the wrong context to say just about whatever you want. I can do the same thing with the Bhagavad Gita or the New York Times.

    Again, I wouldn’t say that Palin’s words show ‘the rise of Dominionist language in the Religious Right’, but rather, she professes Christianity. Some on the left are afraid of Christianity, so it’s time to dust off the concept of dominionism to instill a little fear of religion.

  15. According to the folks at Talk to Action, Sarah Palin and the church she belongs to, are not explicitly Dominionist, yet they use their rhetoric.

    That’s like saying that because I flew through Rome once I must be a Catholic, or I went to New York, so I must be a Mets fan. ,
    No, that is a -terrible- “analogy” (it’s not an analogy).
    An analogy would be:
    “That’s like saying that because I went to mass at St. Peter’s basilica I must be a Catholic, or I went to Shea Stadium, so I must be a Mets fan.”

    She is appropriating actions and words related to being a Dominionist. She is not just coincidentally living in the same town as a Dominionist, or reading the same fiction novel as some Dominionist pastor.
    Sure, it doesn’t prove that she is one, just like going to catholic mass doesn’t make you catholic or going to a mets game doesn’t make you a fan, but she -is- actively using their symbols. And while not sufficient to reach a conclusion, it is not a good sign for somebody who thinks Dominionism is not good.

  16. Steve, I’ve never been afraid of a real Christian. I have devout aunts and uncles, my first supervisor on my first job was a born again evangelical and both of my parents lived a life dedicated to Catholic Church.

    I have a number of liberal and lefty friends. Not a single one of them is afraid of Christianity. While they may not be accepting of any religion, they do not fear it.

    It is Christians who use religion as a weapon, or try to instill their morality into secular law, that scare me and my friends. Those same Christians are the ones who have deemed my devout Catholic family members as “heathens.”

    Her professed version of Christianity uses rhetoric from another denomination of christianity that has expressly stated that their goal is Dominion over the US. She is, while not a professed Dominionist, using their language. while those words are borrowed, those are her words.

    If she does not believe in the language, then she needs to clarify it, just as you clarify your belief in the Nicene Creed. Even though Catholics repeat those words on Sunday, you explicitly state that your belief in the Creed is not the same as your typical Catholics.

  17. torteya,
    This may ramble a bit, so bear with me.

    I think you’re confusing several distinct concepts: Christianity, ‘Dominionism’, and conservative politics. They are separate ideas. As a Christian, I think everyone would benefit by sharing my faith, and I have an obligation to share it. But I wouldn’t use the platform of a public office to impose my religious beliefs, and I don’t see Palin doing that. Should she display Christian values in office? Absolutely. Serve others, treat others with respect and compassion, confront injustice – those are all Christian values.

    But neither I, nor Sarah Palin nor James Dobson can impose Christianity or theocracy on anyone. And, yes, people do cross the line and use religion to further their political aims on occasion.

    The fact that Palin may be a Christian is a far cry from the notion that she’s a dominionist, but that’s how I see it being interpreted.

    Dobson and Focus on the Family occasionally produce voter guides that show how various candidates stand on key issues. That’s distinct from telling people who to vote for. I don’t owe allegiance to him and I don’t think any religious figure should be in the business of endorsing specific candidates. That doesn’t stop them from doing so, or stop candidates from seeking their endorsement.

    I would redefine dominionism as the fear of public religion. By that definition, it’s endemic today. It’s a banner people wave a little too freely.

  18. Steve, I think you are minimizing Dobson and Focus’ voting guide; furthermore when pastors (like my old one or Palin’s) say, “If you vote for the other guy, I question your salvation” they are telling people how to vote.

    Also, there is no need to redefine Dominionism. The theology as described is as stated in my post. Don’t go changing definitions in mid-debate.

  19. It depends how you define it. If you define dominionism very loosely to include anyone who wants to spread Christianity, then sure, it’s all over the place. You’ll see it wherever you look.

    My dad was a conspiracy buff. He thought that the Freemasons, or Jewish world bankers, or socialists, or the UN, or [fill in the blank] were engaged in deep plots to achieve one world government. Seeing that, I tend to take any suggestion of a conspiracy, dominionist or otherwise, with a big grain of salt.

    But I guess I’m part of the conspiracy. I think that practicing – as opposed to professing – Christians make the best public servants and elected officials. Not because they hold to a particular religion, but because they are in a position to do the most good. On the other hand, I don’t give a rat’s hindquarters for someone who seeks election simply on the grounds that he’s a Christian or Jew or Hindu. there’s a concept from Scripture that says, “they will know you are Christians by your love for one another.” If that spirit is missing, the rest is just words.

    Should we allow prayer in school? Sure. Should we mandate it? Absolutely not.

    Should we allow the 10 Commandments to be displayed on public buildings? Sure. Should we mandate it? Of course not.

    If you look closely at those you claim to be dominionist conspirators, they are probably in the ‘allow’ camp rather than the ‘mandate’ camp.

    And yes, I would be opposed to a pastor who said “If you vote for the other guy, I question your salvation” or “White folks invented AIDS”.

    I was tossed out of a church we belonged to for eight years – and my salvation was questioned – because I suggested that the earth was more than 6000 years old, so I know what you’re talking about. No pastor can judge whether or not someone is saved, but that’s another discussion.

  20. But pastors do, and those pastors are not on the fringe of the faith.

    Like you, Steve, I faced a pastor that had veered off the path, so to speak. I had been told that I asked too many questions.

    There’s a quote from Palin’s pastor (and I have heard the sentiment myself many times) that it is wrong to question your pastor. The problem is that scripturally, there is no one between you and the Almighty except for Jesus Christ.

    Dobson is part of the problem. He says things that are hateful and down right unchristian. last year he said he would never vote for McCain under any circumstance, but with Palin as his running mate he will.

    Dobson has outright condemened teen pregnancy and yet praises Palin and her daughter’s “choice” to bring the child to term. Dobson has been a political animal for many years. Quite frankly, he makes me sick.

  21. Itanya,
    I’m with you, almost. As for Dobson, I think he crosses the line when he endorses candidates. Voter guides, fine. Endorse candidates, not his job.

    I think you’re wrong to say that he ‘has outright condemned teen pregnancy’, at least as I think you mean it. Teen pregnancy should be condemned, because generally speaking, teens aren’t mature enough to parent. Once that line has been crossed, though, teen pregnancy is infinitely better than teen abortion. That’s where he seems to be coming from.

    From a Christian perspective, the Palins (and their daughter) made the right choice. Dobson has been consistent on the pro-life line.

    What has he said that is hateful or unChristian? Is it his opposition to homosexual rights? There’s a difference between ‘hateful’ and ‘different from what I believe’.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think he has way overstepped his bounds by making endorsements of political candidates, but be careful of implying motives to him.

  22. But I wouldn’t use the platform of a public office to impose my religious beliefs, and I don’t see Palin doing that

    So you don’t see funding anything but abstinence only sex-ed programs as using public office to impose religious beliefs? What about denying spousal benefits to same-sex couples?

    Personally, right now I can’t say I think Palin is a dominionist. But that was not what I’ve been arguing about. I’ve been arguing about the idea that Dominionism does not seem to me as a fringe flavor. Certainly not when looking at important figures in the religious right movement, who after all are the ones who would get to influence politicians.

    I would also agree with OPB that Dobson does far more than offer “guidelines.”

  23. torteya,
    Look at it this way: suppose a congressman votes for earmarks that bring a new water treatment plant to his district. Why did he do it? Was it:

    a) his constituents needed the facility
    b) his constituents needed the jobs it would bring
    c) his brother-in-law owns the land it’s to be built on
    d) he feels a need based on Christian desire to help the less fortunate
    e) some combination of all the above?

    I would contend that he did it because he could. Does it matter if he’s a Christian?

    Now suppose it was an earmark to fund abstinence education. The same motivations may apply, but now the guns will come out because the object is supposedly in line with Christian values. It’s not a dominionist plot, it’s simply an elected official acting according to his own (or his constituents’) desires.

    The only thing certain in politics is that you’re going to piss someone off who doesn’t share your values or motivations. Next time, vote them out, but don’t claim conspiracy.

  24. I cannot believe you are making the argument that supporting -nothing- but abstinence only is not a religiously motivated action.

    Again, I’m not claiming Palin is a dominionist or that every christian politician is. Nor that abstinence only is the first step of christian domination, so you don’t need to go on those tangents.

    But don’t tell me with a straight face you doubt it’s a decision made based purely on religious beliefs. Are you honestly trying to make the case that abstinence-only is not a religiously motivated policy? She believes that -all- of her constituency wants this? Or she thinks maybe some of them don’t but they should suck it anyways? I mean, it’s not as if she’s governor for all of the inhabitants of the state, right?

    Really? I mean, really?

    What about the other example I gave? That one wasn’t even her proposing anything. It was her stating her disagreement with a State Supreme Court ruling.

  25. I can see your point, but I still find it rather hard to swallow Dobson praising the decision, when he has been quick to condemn other parents for “allowing” their teens to get pregnant. Where is the questioning of Palin’s parenting skills here? Instead, it is all praise.

    As for hateful?

    Dobson has compared justices on the supreme court to members of the KKK.

    He has done more than oppose homosexual “rights” (heaven forbid we treat people as lesser creatures because they think differently than they do). He has said that same-sex “marriages” will destroy the earth. God promised Noah that he would not destroy the earth due to man’s immorality again.

    If I recall correctly, Dobson asked his listeners to pray for Obama’s acceptance speech to be rained out.

    That’s not exactly the actions of a Christian man.

  26. Steve:

    Dominionism has been defined above. I don’t see a need for further definition or clarification. Furthermore, there is no need to say you, or any other practicing Christian, is part of a Dominionist Conspiracy. I don’t care if people accept JHC as their personal savior–I care when they decide to use their positions to make sure EVERYONE takes Him as their own personal savior.

    Your points about what we should allow or mandate ins in relation to the question of what should we allow in schools and on government property. The text of the first amendment reads:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. ” This has been interpreted to mean that the State and Federal Government may not endorse or support any religious domination. This means no 10 commandments (regardless of it is the Hebrew, Islamic or Christian version) in a court house.

    If an individual child wants to pray in school at their desk, the school cannot stop them. That is also protected in the 1st amendment. As for schools “allowing” school prayer (in a public school), this is an example of a state agency endorsing a particular religious belief. Again, this is prohibited because it endorses a religious belief.

    Steve, if you would like to present your case on how the Dominion element is a Fringe Scare Group created by Liberals (like myself) I’d be more than happy to start a new post dedicated to examining that question. I’ve posted some of what I have read, and I would be happy to read any counter-evidence that you have.

    In regards to Dobson “not being hateful” I believe you are minimizing his speech:

    “”Christians have made arguments on both sides of this question. I certainly believe that God is displeased with America for its pride and arrogance, for killing 40 million unborn babies, for the universality of profanity and for other forms of immorality. However, rather than trying to forge a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the terrorist attacks and America’s abandonment of biblical principles, which I think is wrong, we need to accept the truth that this nation will suffer in many ways for departing from the principles of righteousness. “The wages of sin is death,” as it says in Romans 6, both for individuals and for entire cultures. ” Blaming 9/11 on abortion and abandoning his version of Christianity is, at least, intolerance epitomized.

  27. gleason,
    Okay, I read your quote from Dobson. Was there something you found hateful there, because I missed it. Was it his opposition to abortion? He expresses a Christian viewpoint that sin has consequences – is it that you find the whole concept of sin to be hateful? Think of his view of sin as ‘actions have consequences.’ Nothing wrong with that. Help me to understand what you see in his words as hateful.

    As for dominionism, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. I still don’t see it as anything more than a smokescreen that “progressives” drag out occasionally. Are there people who want to establish a theocracy? I’m sure there are one or two, certainly not the multitudes you claim.

  28. gleason,
    Was there supposed to be a new paragraph at the end of his quote? Was that your addendum (“Blaming 9/11 on abortion and abandoning his version of Christianity is, at least, intolerance epitomized..”)?

    If so, again, I think he is just restating standard theology. Actions have consequences. In my town I’ve seen neighborhoods degrade when you start seeing pawn shops, sex shops and liquor stores reaches a tipping point. (And, yes, I drink, have sex, and have used pawn shops, though not in that order.) The point is that when you allow and encourage certain types of behavior, neighborhoods – and societies – begin to decay. That’s all Dobson was saying. What’s hateful about that?

  29. Steve: Call me marty. I don’t make my clients call me Gleason.

    First, to Dominionism. I think you are arguing the level of impact and influence that particular theology has on the Right. I restating what that particular theology is. While we can debate numbers and influence, I will not agree to disagree on the definition itself.

    As for Dobson, if his standard theology is to blame America for the worst terrorist attack in our country’s history, then his standard theology is intolerant. He is saying, “because America does not follow my view of Christ, you guys are screwed. ” How is this tolerant? Actions have consequences–we agree on this–but if this is true, then shouldn’t Vegas or New York be dust? Shouldn’t “Dens of iniquity” like Amsterdam get the Sodom and Gomorra treatment? Dobson’s standard theology, at best, is intolerant if his beliefs follow that track.

    I do not want to get into a discussion of how neighborhoods fall into disrepair here. I can tell you it has more to do with failed government policies and historical events than it has to do with sin (I work in these neighborhoods, and the most devout people I know come from these neighborhoods). However, I will be putting up a post about that shortly.

  30. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” I hear that all the time… well, I hear the “wages of sin” part. The problem is that applying to something like the terrorist attack completely ignores the meaning of the verse.

    The verse is not refering to real death, but the death of the spirit.

    By saying that it is the apparent immorality that causes people to crash airplanes into buildings, is to ignore or deny that human beings have free will. If you hold that human beings have free will, then you have to agree that the people who crashed those plans also had the choice to do it.

    For God to intervene to save one person, he must deny the free will of another.

  31. I, too, have a problem with folks, generally Christians, who point to a specific event and call it God’s judgment on the nation, the sinner, the homosexual, whatever.

    We live in a fallen, broken world and sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes terrorists fly planes into buildings. That’s not necessarily God’s judgment. That said, those things wouldn’t happen if there were no sin in the world. That doesn’t negate free will, it simply means that if Adam (whether or not he was a literal figure) had chosen not to reject God, things would be much different. Same for us as individuals. If we choose a hedonistic lifestyle, we will bear the consequences of it. That’s standard Judeo-Christian theology, not hate speech. Live a homosexual lifestyle, you have an increased probability of contracting AIDS. Live a promiscuous heterosexual lifestyle, you have an increased probability of contracting other STDs. Abort your kids, who knows, but you accept an increased risk of breast and cervical cancers, not to mention the moral issues involved with killing the preborn. It’s not hate speech.

    Dobson may push the point a bit, but he’s not over the line by any stretch in terms of his theology.

    Yes, Itanya, I would say that “it is apparent immorality that causes people to crash airplanes into buildings”. A rational, moral person would do that and kill 3500 people? The morons that did it made a conscious decision to commit an immoral act.

    Look, it comes down to whether or not a person decides to follow or reject God. If you follow Him you are blessed, if you reject Him you have consequences.

  32. Wait, what!? Are you suggesting that alleged negative health implications involved in homosexuality, promiscuity, and abortions are the theological basis for churches’ rejection of these?

    I believe it is abundantly clear that if tomorrow somebody discovered a pill that makes you healthier every time you have sex with a different person (double bonus if it’s same-sex) or had an abortion, the churches who now oppose them would still oppose them just as vigorously.

    I hope I am confused as to the “theology” you’re referring to.

  33. Look, I can’t explain what “hateful” is unless I know what the word means to you. Right now, I cannot think of a single statement that you could consider hateful.

  34. So, you are saying that a believer’s free will trumps that of an unbelievers? Where is the foundation for that? If you are going to make that a proposition, then how can you even argue that free will exists? Paul does not claim that bad things will not happen, or that a believer will be protected from other people. All he says is that a believer will not be separated by the love of God, as granted by the blood offering of Jesus Christ (paraphrasing Romans here). That is the blessing granted to unbelievers.

    That blessing isn’t a get out of the World free card. Believers live in the same world as everyone else.

    It’s not necessarily God’s judgement? How is God even involved? Either people have free will, or they don’t. Are you saying that God manipulates people to crash airplanes to punish a country for immorality? How does any of that fit within Xian Theology? If you believe that Christ’s death on the cross was the beginning of a new covenant with God, then how can you even say things like that?

    Adam did not choose to reject God. He chose to disobey God and then pass the blame. That was his sin. The very first humans in existence decided that knowing was better than obedience. It’s the constant idea that there is something out there besides people mucking about, messing with things, that truly bothers me. It’s people like Dobson who, like Cotton Mather before him, seek to promote the idea of God meddling in human affairs for the purpose of forwarding their own agendas that truly degrades the Xian faith.

  35. Are you suggesting that alleged negative health implications involved in homosexuality, promiscuity, and abortions are the theological basis for churches’ rejection of these?

    Not at all, but God certainly allows us to experience the consequences of our actions in this life, both in our bodies and in the consequences to society. There are any number of scriptural justifications for churches’ speaking against such activity, the physical consequences being only one. And yes, if a cure or preventative were found for those consequences, churches should and would still preach against them.

    As for the ‘hatefulness’ issue, I’m not sure what you want. If James Dobson or the First Reformed Church of the Interstate preaches against sinful activity that doesn’t make it hateful by any normal definition of the word. It may be unpopular, but that’s not the same thing.

    As for free will, we all have the same free will, believer or unbeliever, but that doesn’t negate God’s omnipotence. And you’re right, His blessing is not a get out of the world free card. That’s a gripe I have with the fundamentalist mentality. Both OT and NT are very clear about the blessings we will receive if we follow Him, and the ‘curses’ we will receive if we choose to reject Him. David and Solomon are great examples for both. When they followed God they were blessed, when they turned away, He removed their blessings.

    I don’t know the mechanism of His blessings and curses. I know he uses people to bless, so why not use people (e.g., terrorists) to take those blessings away? I’m NOT saying that God uses terrorists, but that he allows them to act in accordance with their own free will in order to achieve His purposes, much like He used Pharoah’s hardened heart in Exodus to show His power.

    Don’t take that the wrong way. I am absolutely not saying that God directs the course of hurricanes to punish New Orleans or that God pushes terrorists to act (thereby making Him somehow complicit). Evil is a product of a sin fallen world and of our own freely made choices.

  36. Then what are you saying?

    It appears to me to be an inconsistant statement. To say that God “allows” a terrorist to use their free will, is to deny that the free will exists. Either God gave humans free will or God didn’t. If God is going to constantly interfere in the lives of men, then we have no way to trust in the contract between yes.

    And yes, this is one of my sore spots with the faith. Just because God has the power to do something, doesn’t mean he does do something.

    Actually, from reading the Bible, I would say that evil was here long before this became a sin fallen world. Evil did not enter because Adam chose to disobey. Humans became aware of its existence and therefore became responsible.

    It is the knowledge of Good and Evil that places the responsiblity on humans, not the existence of evil.

  37. I’m also still waiting for how you can defend Dobson based on my comments.

    I can see the theological reasons for your claims about the health detriments of homosexuality, etc. (Though I would interject that many of those on the airwaves have claimed that these activities brought those “curses” into existence.) I don’t agree with them, but I can understand them. However, Dobson in particular has gone far beyond that in his broadcasts.

  38. Itanya,
    I think it comes down to who God is.

    Look at it this way. We have absolute free will within our world. We can choose to follow God or reject him or pretend he doesn’ t exist or fly planes into buildings or anything we can imagine. That still doesn’t limit God in any way. I do know that based on my own experience, He can and does intervene in the lives of those who follow him. Why is it hard to think that He can use circumstances and people (acting in accordance with their own free will) to further his own aims?

    As for Dobson, he can speak for himself. I see him as a person who speaks to the culture based on his understanding of Scripture. He calls sin sin. I have never heard him say that a homosexual or pregnant teen or an alcoholic is going to burn in hell, or is an evil person. Again, he may say things that are unpopular, but that’s not hateful. (Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church cronies are a way different story, and I don’t consider them to be a Christian.)

  39. Actually, from reading the Bible, I would say that evil was here long before this became a sin fallen world. Evil did not enter because Adam chose to disobey. Humans became aware of its existence and therefore became responsible.

    It is the knowledge of Good and Evil that places the responsiblity on humans, not the existence of evil.

    I agree with you 100%. That’s an excellent description of our liability for sin.

  40. So, apparently homosexuals aren’g going to burn in hell, but they are going to “destroy the Earth”…

    “Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.”
    James Dobson on gay marriage, from The Daily Oklahoman, Oct. 23rd, 2004

    I find this to be extremely hateful and completely untrue. I may no longer be a practicing Catholic, but after spending thirteen years studying Christ in school, I have a hard time believing he would be ok with someone spreading that kind of vile, hate-filled rhetoric.

  41. As for the ‘hatefulness’ issue, I’m not sure what you want .
    I thought I was being clear, sorry.

    Could you please give me one example of a hateful statement, and what makes it so?

    Again, the way I see it, I could use arguments like the ones you’ve used to say that whatever you can come up with, is not really hateful.

    Hope I’m being clearer.

  42. “Why is it hard to think that He can use circumstances and people (acting in accordance with their own free will) to further his own aims?”

    Can God manipulate people? Of course God can. Accepting the principal that God is omnipotent, I accept the fact that God can do those things. Does God manipulate people for God’s purpose? Sorry, do not buy that. If someone chooses to obey, totally different story, but how can we judge if it is God’s will?
    You can say that you know it is God’s will because it was a blessing to you, but in truth you cannot know.

    As for Dobson, I am glad that you think he can speak for himself. You also state that he speaks to the culture and his understanding of scriptures. That in no way means that he has not spoken hatefully. In fact, you could say the same about the Westboro church.

    I completely disagree that Dobson’s has used his radio program to pronounce hateful things. Asking listeners to pray for someone’s speech to be rained out, is an interesting interpretation of scripture. Where exactly did Christ say “wish evil on your enemies?”

  43. I didn’t say they wouldn’t burn in hell! 🙂

    Just kidding, a bit. Actually the consequences of all sin/rejection of God is the same. No reason to single out the homosexuals. There’s a great passage in Romans 1 that goes,

    “They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents”

    Disobey their parents? Kind of puts it all in context. People get their collective panties in a wad over particular sins that they find offensive when all of them have the same cost.

  44. Sure. I was kicked out of a fundamentalist church we’d belonged to for eight years because I dared question the concept that the earth was more than 6000 years old. Church pastors – and folks like Dobson – should be guides, not gods. I trust Scripture and the Holy Spirit implicitly, but as for pastors and organized religious bodies, I will seek to learn from them, but not be bound to them.

  45. Officer gleason – exactly at what part of my comment are you offended with??? the freemason part – what’s a matter your a freemason, the McCain part ??? or was it Nelson Mandela??? maybe because i am south african??? what exactly are you offended with “So mote it be”

  46. Honestly, JC, I don’t have a problem with South Africans. I have a problem with people who post egregious comments with no basis in fact.

    I also have issues with people who’s use of punctuation is well below the 6th grade level. Please refrain from embarrassing yourself further,or I will delete your comments.

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