Randall Balmer Has My Back on Ted Cruz’s Dominionism

Cruz founders

For some folks who read The Way of Improvement Leads Home the sentiment expressed in the title of this post is a good thing.  For others it might be a bad thing.  Whatever the case, I want to thank Dartmouth’s Randall Balmer for referencing some of my stuff on Ted Cruz in his recent piece at Religion & Politics.

Here is a taste of Balmer’s “The Paradoxes of Ted Cruz“:

The paradox that most intrigues me, however, is Cruz’s ties to evangelicalism. At one level, judging by evangelical politics over the past several decades, that claim is unexceptional. As John Fea, of Messiah College, has written for Religion News Service, one of Cruz’s biggest supporters is the faux historian David Barton, who has fashioned an entire career out of arguing, against overwhelming historical evidence to the contrary, that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Although Barton and his arguments have been widely discredited—he apparently fabricated quotes to buttress his specious claims, so many that Thomas Nelson Publishers recalled one of his books—Cruz has not renounced Barton’s support. The payoff, according to Fea, is that, having asserted America’s Christian origins, Cruz can more credibly spin his campaign yarn about America’s declension from the piety of the founders, a decline that reaches its predictable nadir in Barack Obama’s presidency.

It doesn’t take much imagination to script the altar call for this declension narrative: Return the United States to its “Christian origins” and restore American righteousness by electing Ted Cruz president.

The corollary, and once again one not unfamiliar to those who have tracked the Religious Right over the past several decades, is the doctrine of “Dominionism” or “Christian Reconstructionism.” This ideology, examined nicely in Julie Ingersoll’s recent book, Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction, traces its lineage to the 1970s writings of Rousas John Rushdoony and aspires to replace American legal codes with biblical law. At the outer fringes of this movement, seldom articulated publicly, is the conviction that capital punishment should be administered for such biblically mandated “crimes” as blasphemy, heresy, witchcraft, astrology, premarital sex, and incorrigible juvenile delinquency.

Cruz himself, of course, is politically savvy enough not to be caught articulating such specifics, but there can be little doubt that he falls within the general ambit of Reconstructionism. When he inveighs against the media or complains about the abrogation of religious freedoms, for instance, the underlying conviction is that the media are controlled by diabolical forces and that people of faith are being forced by an evil government to accommodate sinners—by providing business services to gays, for instance, or, in the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk, issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

2 thoughts on “Randall Balmer Has My Back on Ted Cruz’s Dominionism

  1. “The question of whether Cruz is a Dominionist will linger because the available evidence suggests that he is.”

    There’s not a scintilla of evidence that he is. Further, Ted Cruz’s father is not his “principal surrogate,” David Barton, as director of a PAC, is prohibited by law from co-ordinating with Cruz [and denies he’s a “Dominionist,” whatever that means*], and Jerry Boykin is only a Dominionist if your source is Alex Jones’ Infowars.


    *”The contemporary religious Left’s version of McCarthyist red-baiting is to smear opponents by labeling them ‘dominionists.’ … Ted’s not a dominionist; he’s a constitutionalist. I’ve known Senator Cruz for more than half his life. I supervised his junior year independent project and senior thesis at Princeton, working with him closely on the Constitution’s protections of liberty by way of structural limitations on power. I’ve stayed closely in touch with him in the years since, sometimes discussing constitutional questions (especially those pertaining to religious freedom). In 31 years of teaching constitutional law and civil liberties, and 25 years of serving on various capacities in public life, never have I met a person whose fidelity to the Constitution was deeper than Senator Cruz’s.”–Prof Robby George, Princeton


  2. Professor Fea – others “have your back” too. See: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35709-why-are-evangelicals-fighting-over-ted-cruz-s-religious-beliefs

    The blog cites Frederick Clarkson, author of the invaluable Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy and one of the journalists that pioneered research and writing about the religious right, told Truthout in an email. “The question of whether Cruz is a Dominionist will linger because the available evidence suggests that he is. His dad and principal surrogate is a Seven Mountains Dominionist. His super PAC honcho, David Barton, is a Dominionist. And one of his recently appointed foreign policy advisers, Jerry Boykin, is also a well-known Dominionist,” Clarkson added.


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