It appears we have a direct connection between Seven Mountain Dominionism and the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

“I’m probably going to lose my job as a pastor after this.”

Here is a guy named Tyler Ethridge at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

For those who cannot access the video, here is the transcript:

I don’t want to say that what we’re doing is right, but if the election is being stolen what is it going to take? Really. It it going to take people just talking about it? I’m probably going to lost my job as a pastor after this but what is it going to take? I don’t see anyone out here that are just teachers. Talk is cheap, and I think we’re to the point where talk is cheap. And if this makes me lose my reputation, I don’t care. I don’t care about my reputation, I care about my nation. I care about it for my daughter and my child. That’s what I care about. It’s more than just talking, it’s doing. There comes a point where you have to “do.”

Ethridge is a high school football star with a troubled past who attended Charis Bible College in Colorado. This school is associated with evangelical Trump supporter and charismatic preacher Andrew Wommack. It is a Christian nationalist Bible college that once housed the David Barton School of Government and continues to run a program in “practical government.” The school is on Barton’s “list of safe colleges and universities.”

I once wrote an open letter to the student body of Charis Bible College after a Barton appearance. Read it here.

Ethridge is a proud graduate of Charis’s practical government program. All of the names listed in the following tweet are Christian nationalists and Trump supporters. Ethridge “studied under” them.

Watch Barton and Wommack discussing their plans for the new Barton School of Government:

It appears that Barton’s name is no longer attached to the school, but he continues to teach in the program and his ideas still shape the curriculum.

Here is a promotional video that is currently on the Charis Bible College website (it includes David and Tim Barton):

Students enrolled in the program choose from a list of courses that include:

“Seven Mountains of Influence”:

Human society is affected by seven primary arenas of influence, one of which is government. Other arenas of influence include the family, education, and the media. In this course, students will learn to identify the various arenas of society, and how they interact and overlap. Particular focus will be given to the importance and influence of Government. The concept developed by this course is a powerful key to unlocking the potential of the Church to fulfill the Great Commission.

(Learn more about Seven Mountains Dominionism here).

“The Miracle of America“:

The founding of the United States of America changed the course and history of the World. In this class, students will learn the historical proof that America was birthed by the miraculous hand of God. We will study, among other things, God’s intervention in events at pivotal moments, the inspiration our founders drew from God’s word and their own relationship with Him, and the analogies between the founding of America for God’s purpose and the deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt.

“The Christian Heritage of American Government”:

In this series of courses, students will study the history of American government. In Part 1, we will uncover the amazing truth about the events, ideas and people involved in the formation of the greatest nation in the history of the world. This first installment will cover British roots through the American Revolution, including political philosophy, religious persecution and migration, the revival known as the Great Awakening, the tyranny of King George III, slavery in the colonies, the Black Robe regiment, the Mayflower Compact, an analysis of the Declaration of Independence and many other topics.

“Faith of the Founders”:

In this course, Students will learn how the vast majority of our Founding Fathers were in fact, devoted Christians. We will study their personal and public writings and see how the policies and laws they adopted were inspired by their faith in the God of the Bible.

“The Role of Pastors in Government”:

This very important course will inform students regarding the scriptural mandate and historical role that the Church and Pastors should play in the arena of government. We will address concerns that many may have which are rooted in misconceptions of “separation of church and state” and an overly narrow concept of modern “evangelism.” Students will be challenged and emboldened as they explore the truth about the views of our Founders, the history of the “Black Robe Regiment,” actual Supreme Court case law, concepts and examples from Scripture, U.S. Tax law and other sources.

“How to Run for Office” (Taught by former New Mexico congressman Bill Redmond):

In “How to Run for Office,” we will cover how to plan and execute a basic campaign for an elected public office. Subjects will include how to assemble a team, developing your message, preparing effective printed materials, using direct mail, the internet and print media, voter targeting, fundraising and more.

“United States Constitution” (Taught by David Barton):

Practical Government Students will receive thorough instruction regarding the United States Constitution, the longest serving Constitution of any nation in the world. This first in a series of courses will teach the history of the Constitution, the Christian character of the document, an overview of its framework and provisions, as well as a review of the Amendments other than the Bill of Rights, which is covered in depth in a subsequent class.

See the entire list of courses here. Others include:

Creationism and the Flood:

The principle that mankind was created by God is expressed in America’s founding charter, and is fundamental to a proper understanding of civil rights, the limited role of government and the worth of the individual. In this course, our students will be instructed in scientific and physical evidence supporting the Biblical accounts of creation and the Flood of Noah, and be equipped by this course to defend in the public sector these foundational events as historical facts.

Biblical Free Enterprise:

In Biblical Free Enterprise, students will learn the biblical principles of economics that should be followed by all governments and which have led to the United States becoming the most productive and prosperous nation in the history of the world.

Christian Heritage of American Government II:

In this enlightening course, students will continue to explore the Christian heritage of American government, reviewing materials by David Barton and others, with a particular focus on the period from the American Revolution to the Civil War.

Principles of War

Here, students will learn principles and strategies for success in the “culture war.” They will study lessons learned on the field of actual battle, including the importance of being on “offense”, an accurate understanding of “defense” and many others.

I don’t know how many of these courses Tyler Ethridge took, but it doesn’t surprise me that someone enrolled in this program might be inspired to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The course on “Principles of War,” for example, teaches students “the importance of being on ‘offense.'”

Blogger David Bonner has been following Ethridge for a while at his Wondering Eagle blog. He and other sources note that Ethridge was a youth pastor at Christ Centered Church in Tampa, Florida. But it looks like the church fired him before he even started work:

Here Ethridge retweets Independent Network Charismatic prophet Dutch Sheets (one of Eric Metaxas’s favorite prophets). The reference to Cape Henry, Virginia is standard fare for those who argue that the United States was founded as a Christian nation:

Here is Ethridge on July 18, 2020. He seems ready for a fight:

Ethridge is no coward:

Here Ethridge makes reference to what he learned about the “Black Robe Regiment.” The reference to Peter Muhlenberg is a dead give-away. I image he learned about Muhlenberg in his course on “The Role of Pastors in Government”:

John Guandalo teaches a courses at Charis Bible College titled “Understanding the Threat”:

Ethridge is not happy with Ted Cruz in the following tweet, but it says a lot about Cruz’s connections to Christian dominionism. Some of you recall I was making this argument about Cruz back in 2016. Cruz hangs out with these folks and has apparently visited Charis Bible College.

Ethridge embodies the links between Christian nationalist politics and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. I am sure that David Barton, Andrew Wommack, and the folks at Charis Bible College will call him an outlier. But as I see it, Ethridge was just taking his training to its logical conclusion.

James Dobson on Biden’s election: “America and Western Civilization will never be the same.” (And other court evangelical news)

As I write, Washington D.C. is an armed camp. 25,000 National Guard members are ready to defend the U.S. Capitol during Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony on January 20.

Meanwhile, people are still dying of COVID-19. Incoming President Joe Biden is doing his best to deal with the pandemic and its effects while outgoing twice-impeached president is holed-up in the White House meeting with MyPillow guy Mike Lindell.

How are the court evangelicals responding?

Eric Metaxas is tweeting about martial law:

Ayanna Pressley has alopecia. But that doesn’t stop Eric from doing this:

The other night Eric Metaxas talked about those willing to die for conspiracy theories as courageous martyrs for Christ. He also shared this.

Not specifically court evangelical news, but one Trump evangelical apologized.

Yesterday a Liberty University graduate published a piece at The Bulwark that called the Falkirk Center a “slime factory.”

Apparently the Falkirk Center believes that American companies are “the left.” So much for free enterprise. Businesses can refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, but they do not have the right to silence conspiracy theorists?

Charlie Kirk forgets about the time the MyPillow guy bailed out Kyle Rittenhouse:

Lance Wallnau tells his followers that impeachment is really about the elites screwing the working class. The elites currently control the “seven mountains” (as in Seven Mountain Dominionism), but the Christian working class will overthrow them. Wallnau claims that in 2014 the late “prophet” Kim Clement prophesied the words “impeach, impeach.” The interpretation? Trump would be impeached twice by elites in both political parties and the people would rise up in a “new kind of war.” According to Wallnau, this all has something to do with China and COVID-19. It also has something to do with a Jezebel-spirited “witch” in the White House.

Court evangelical David Brody talks with “presidential historian” Doug Wead about Trump’s legacy. Wead expounded a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton trying to get control of the Catholic Church. He also claims that Amazon is no longer selling the books of “distinguished” theologians. Wead says that “two impeachments will only get historians to notice all of Trump’s great accomplishments.” I beg to differ. I think two impeachments will get historians and millions of school children to notice that Trump was the only president to be impeached twice. 🙂 Wead calls for national unity. He says Biden doesn’t care about national unity because he called U.S. Capitol insurrections “terrorists.” Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!:

I am not sure what is happening, but something is going on with Samuel Rodriguez and Twitter:

On Facebook, Jim Garlow calls attention to Trump’s “accomplishments” and still manages to get in a shot at the tech corporations who are persecuting him. He writes: “Never has a modern President accomplished so much (and been hated for doing so much good). If you want to see this before others (those who are re-writing history) remove it, you need to copy it now.” (He links to this article).

Here is Garlow on Facebook on January 13:

What happened today? 1. Highest number of Covid deaths in the US ever. Horrific. But Congress obviously had more important (and nefarious) things to do than to care about the American people. 2. And… 232 “Benedict Arnold” traitors of the US Constitution killed our precious Constitution this day, defying it’s very meaning … and – filled with hatred unlike anything we have ever seen – they are trying their best to destroy Donald Trump and the more than 74,000,000 people who voted for him. What a disgrace. Other than that, not much happened today.

On the same day, Garlow said this about the ten Republicans who voted to impeach Trump: “Remember the story of the 10 wimps who went into the Promised Land but they had no courage? “Well – they now have competition.” (He then lists their names). Here are some of his follower’s comments:

  • “They just flushed their career down the drain.”
  • “Every single one of them need to be aggressively primaried”
  • “Hope they enjoy their shortened career.”
  • “They betrayed our president”
  • “Just pray we have an election in 2020”
  • “Backstabbers”

Garlow also shared this post on Facebook from a “friend”:

Today is a day that will live in infamy. One of the greatest Presidents of all time, probably top 10 and certainly the greatest since Reagan, was for the second time the victim of a purely petty, partisan, pathetic, vindicate and groundless impeachment. That Trump has endured 4 years of illegal investigations, spying, lying and corruption and then had the election stolen in the most blatant and obvious fashion and HE is attacked for the VERY things they have done for the last 5 years! It is truly breathtaking and history will show that Trump was correct and that the Left, the Media, and the pathetic spineless RINO’s are the most shameful group of corrupt cowards ever to stain the floors of our Capitol. These are the 10 Republican lawmakers who supported the move to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection”

Again, this post drew some interesting comments, including:

  • “Disgraceful and utterly absurd. The evil in the hearts of men is actually beyond my comprehension in this current day.”
  • “Well, they are soon going to regret their act of treason. They need to repent quickly.”
  • “Definitely top 10 and I would say top 5!! Republicans who voted to impeach, NOTED.”
  • “I hope every single one of them is voted out. They are nothing better than traitors”
  • “Shame forever”
  • “Not just spineless. Traitorous.”

Robert Jeffress had a run-in with Illinois GOP congressman Adam Kinzinger. In a now deleted tweet, Kinginger wrote: “I believe there’s a huge burden now on pastors and clergy who openly spread the conspiracies of a stolen election, like @robertjeffress @beholdIsrael @FranklinGraham among many others, to admit their mistakes and lead their flocks out of darkness to truth.” Jeffress claimed he never said the election was “stolen.” (This is true. Although he came close). Jeffress, always ready to turn the other cheek, responded:

And Kinzinger’s response:

Jeffress’s exchange with the congressman seems to have re-empowered him. He was back on the Lou Dobbs show on FOX News last night to defend Trump’s legacy. Jeffress doesn’t regret a thing about his support of Trump and calls the twice-impeached, insurrection-inciting leader the greatest president in his lifetime. He talks about an “axis of evil” that tried to take Trump down and tells Dobbs to keep exposing the “darkness” and “lies” that are “sure to come” in the Biden administration.

Ralph Reed just can’t seem to let go. Trump lost. Loeffler lost. Perdue lost. This is a pretty risky thing to say in light of January 6, 2021. Does Reed really think that Biden’s inaugural will not be “marred by violent protests?”

Like Jim Garlow, Gary Bauer also turned to Facebook to call out the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. Here are some of the comments from his followers after he shared this Washington Examiner article:

  • “Remember that next Election Day; oh, I forgot–there will never be a fair election again.”
  • “They are so blind and deaf, they are Democrats in wolfs clothing, I call for them to be removed/recalled and even kicked out of the GOP”
  • “praying for their hearts and eyes to be lifted up to Jesus to bring healing and deliverance from deception and unbelief…”
  • “Satan worked on their emotions and won. Their hearts were hardened.”
  • “Wicked doesn’t even describe what they have done and will continue to do. The evil devils in the demonkkkrat (sic) party along with their friends the liberal activists in the media have no qualms about using and abusing some one else for power.”

A moderate Democrat and devout Roman Catholic will be inaugurated President of the United States on January 20, 2021 and James Dobson believes that “America and Western Civilization will never be the same.” Here is a taste of his monthly newsletter:

The Left has now achieved ultimate power in the White House, in the House of Representatives, and in the Senate. Consequently, as I warned in December, there will be no checks and balances within our system of government. The most radical ideas promoted by President Joe Biden and his majority party will be enacted. We can infer from what they have told us that the years ahead will bring more regulation, less freedom, more taxation, less religious liberty, more socialism, less democracy, more funds for abortion, less support for the sanctity of human life, less funding for the military, more illegal immigration, more restrictions on speech, less patriotism, more wasteful spending, less support for families, more regulations on business, more appeasement of China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea, less support for the electoral college, trillions more dollars for climate nonsense, more LGBTQ propaganda, less moral compunction, more governmental corruption, less oversight of elections, more “cancel culture,” fewer police officers, more gun control, and less government of the people, by the people and for the people. We can also anticipate quick passage of the horrendous “Equality Act.” You might want to keep track of these items as they occur. This is just the beginning.

America and Western civilization will never be the same, because it is not possible to back up on a freeway. Once radical changes are implemented, they will become ensconced in law and culture. I am most concerned about what all this means for the next generation. Children are extremely vulnerable to leftist curricula in the public schools. Specifically, I am worried about parental rights and the legality of home schooling. It is the only protection for kids.

In conclusion, I will let you interpret this Franklin Graham tweet:

Charismatic prophets at war

In Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, I wrote extensively about the so-called Independent Network Charismatics (INC). According to scholars Brad Christerson and Richard Flory, INC is the fastest-growing Christian movement in both the Western world and global south. INC Christians are outside the network of traditional Pentecostals. Unlike the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland), International Pentecostal Holiness Church, International Pentecostal Church of Christ, Foursquare Church, and the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church, INC Christianity is not a denomination. Nor are its networks affiliated in any way with the National Association of Evangelicals.

INC Christianity is a network of authoritative spiritual leaders with very large followings. They are closely related to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). If I understand these movements correctly, INC Christianity it more open to the prosperity gospel than NAR Christianity, but there is a lot of overlap. Both groups believe in the traditional Pentecostal “gifts” (speaking in tongues, healing, miracles, and prophecy). They expect a great revival of the Holy Spirit will take place shortly before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and God will raise up “apostles” and “prophets” to lead this revival.

Some of the more prominent INC prophets include Che Ahn (Harvest International Ministries in Pasadena, CA), Bill Johnson (Bethel Church in Redding ,CA), Chuck Pierce (Glory of Zion Ministries in Corinth, TX), Cindy Jacobs (Generals International in Red Oak, TX), Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO), Lou Engle (The Call in Colorado Springs, CO), Dutch Sheets (Dutch Sheets Ministries in Dallas, TX), Lance Wallnau (Lance Learning Group in Dallas, TX), Jeremiah Johnson (Jeremiah Johnson Ministries in Charlotte, NC), Kat Kerr (Revealing Heaven Ministries of Jacksonville, FL), and Shawn Bolz (Bolz Ministries of Studio City, CA).

INC prophets and apostles believe that they have been appointed to serve as God’s agents in ushering in his future kingdom, a process that many describe as God “bringing heaven to earth.” They are thus deeply attracted to Seven Mountain Dominionism, the belief that Jesus will not return until society comes under the dominion of Jesus Christ. Drawing from Isaiah 2:2 (“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains”), INC prophets want to reclaim seven cultural “mountains”: family, government, arts and entertainment, media, business, education, and religion. The goal is to place God’s appointed leaders atop these cultural mountains as a means of setting the stage for the time when God will bring heaven to earth.

As early as 2007, INC prophet Kim Clement received a word from God: “Trump shall become a trumpet. I will raise up Trump to become a trumpet, and Bill Gates to open up the gate of a financial realm for the church.” Early in the 2016, Wallnau received a similar words: “Donald Trump is a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness.” When Wallnau’s prophecy caught the attention of Trump’s evangelical supporters, he was invited to attend a meeting with the candidate and other evangelical leaders in Trump Tower. As Wallnau listened to Trump talk about his desire to give evangelicals a more prominent voice in government, he sense that God was giving him an “assignment”–a “calling related to this guy .” One day, while he was reading his Facebook page, Wallnau saw a meme predicting that Trump would be the “45th president of the United States.” God told Wallnau to pick up his Bible and turn to Isaiah 45. On reading the passage, Wallnau realized that, not only would Trump be a “wrecking ball” to political correctness, but he would be elected president of the United States in the spirit of the ancient Persian king Cyrus. In the Old Testament, Cyrus was the secular political leader whom God used to send the exiled kingdom of Judah back to the Promised Land so that they could rebuild the city of Jerusalem and its holy Temple. Wallnau was shocked by this discovery. “God was messing with my head,” he told Steven Strang, the editor of Charisma, a magazine that covers INC and other Pentecostal and charismatic movements.

In early 2015, Cindy Jacobs claimed that God said to her, “I have a trump card in my hand and I’m gonna play it and I’m gonna trump the system.” When Trump announced his candidacy in 2016, Jacobs supported his candidacy through “prayer walks” through seven swing states. Jacobs was one of the religious leaders who stood behind Trump on the White House lawn when he announced an executive order on religious liberty on May 4, 2017.

Frank Amedia, an INC apostle who claims to have presented Trump with a note at a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio, telling the candidate that God had revealed to him that it was a “forgone conclusion” that he would win the GOP nomination, worked as Trump’s “liaison for Christian policy.” Amedia has led several of these INC leaders in the formation of an organization called POTUS Shield. The clergy associated with this organization gather regularly to pray for Trump to protect them from the Satan-inspired attacks of his political opponents. The POTUS Shield prophets seldom appeared at the White House, but they served as a kind of spiritual support group for God’s new Cyrus, who will lead America back to spiritual and economic prosperity and help to set the stage for the dominion of Jesus Christ over all the earth.

Prior to Trump, INC and NAR prophets were on the fringe. The secular media didn’t even know they existed. The only outlet that covered them on a regular basis was Right Wing Watch, a project sponsored by People For the American Way. But in recent days, the Washington Post and New York Times have recognized the influence of these Christians and their massive followings. Yesterday we posted about Michelle Boorstein’s piece at The Washington Post. A few hours ago, David Brooks of The New York Times published a column that referenced Jeremiah Johnson.

As might be expected, INC and NAR prophets prophesied a Trump victory in 2020. Some of them, including Johnson, apologized. Over at Religion Unplugged, Julia Duin has a piece on how Trump’s loss has divided the INC and NAR community. Here is a taste:

At least 40 charismatic Christian leaders predicted Trump’s reelection starting around 2018, according to J. Gordon Melton, 78, the venerable compiler of the Encyclopedia of American Religions and an American religious studies professor at Baylor University. 

“Only a handful [of prophets] got it right on the 2016 election,” said Melton, “so they all jumped into this election and with one exception,” a Black prophet from North Carolina whose name he did not recall, “they were wrong.”

This is the second major hit this movement has taken in less than a year, he added. The first was during a prophetic summit last year.

“Last November when [evangelist] Cindy Jacobs had her meeting in Dallas, none of the prophets at that meeting – and it was the elite who were there – none of them hinted that anything like the coronavirus was coming,” Melton said. “That has come back to haunt them.”

Some in the movement are still holding out for some kind of last-minute miracle from God that would magically reverse the election and install Trump as president on Jan. 20. The Dallas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries is one. On Jan. 7, host Gene Bailey and several other prophets appearing on a ministry broadcast known as Flashpoint, floated conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. All of them encouraged listeners to continue believing in prophecies of a Trumpian victory.

“Many are on the side of, ‘Let’s attack one another. Let’s get on social media and attack the prophets. And let’s draw the sword on one another,’” said the Rev. Hank Kunneman, pastor of Hosts Church in Omaha, Neb. “And I think that is the greatest mistake we can make as true patriots, true Christians, those of us that are in the body of Christ.” 

God had personally assured him there would be a miraculous outcome, he added.

“I’m telling you that’s what we’re getting ready to see,” he said. “I don’t know how that’s going to play out. I just know this thing is not over.”

Thursday night court evangelical roundup

COurt evangelicals

What have Trump’s evangelicals been saying since our last update?

They are still coming for Jesus:

Graham is responding to this tweet by Mike Huckabee:

I was listening to CNN when Lemon said that Jesus “wasn’t perfect.” I think this was more of a simple theological misunderstanding by Lemon, or perhaps he really doesn’t believe Jesus was perfect. We live in a religious diverse country after all. Don Lemon is free to believe that Jesus was not perfect. (By the way, do Jewish conservatives on Fox News believe Jesus was perfect?) In other words, I did not see this as an attempt to attack Christianity. Lemon was trying to show that our founding fathers were not perfect. He was even calling out liberals. Watch for yourself:

Apparently Robert Jeffress is not happy about this either. But this should not surprise us. He has long believed that we live in a Christian nation, not a pluralistic democracy.

According to Jeffress, anyone who does not believe Jesus was perfect is peddling “fake news.”

Court evangelical journalist David Brody of Christian Broadcasting Network agrees:

Again, the point here is not to argue whether or not Jesus was perfect. That is a theological discussion. 3 points:

  1. The court evangelicals do not care about the larger context of Lemon’s statement because the context does not suit their political agenda.
  2. It is fine to tweet that Lemon does not understand the beliefs of Christianity. I am criticizing how his views (or his mistake) were turned into culture war tweets.
  3. The court evangelicals do not believe in a pluralistic society. The idea that Jesus was imperfect may be a “lie” to all serious Christians, but this is not an exclusively Christian nation. Jews, Muslims, atheists, and people of all kinds of religions watch CNN. Non-Christians work at Fox News (I think). The belief that “Jesus was perfect” is an article of faith and it is perfectly fine in a democracy for people to disagree with this claim. As a Christian, I believe in the incarnation, but I am not offended that Don Lemon may not. These kinds of tweets just make Christians look foolish.

Gary Bauer is using his Facebook page to share an article on the American Revolution that appeared yesterday at The Federalist. Jane Hampton Cook’s essay is a historical and theological mess. It blurs African slavery, political slavery, and the biblical idea of liberty from sin. But at least she was able to take a shot at the 1619 Project! That’s all that really matters. Bauer writes:”>Rather than teaching our children a lie — that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery as the 1619 Project falsely claims — this is what our children should be learning in school.”

Hey Ralph, all you need to do is say “Happy Anniversary.” That’s it:

Eric Metaxas is trying to get his book If You Can Keep It in the hands of “every high school history teacher in the country. Before your school adopts Eric Metaxas’s book, please read this article and this series of posts.

Tonight David Barton will be making a case for why Washington D.C. should not be a state. I don’t have time to watch it, but I am guessing it has something to do with Christian nationalism.

Seven Mountain Dominion advocate Lance Wallnau is at it again. He also wants to destroy public education.

Is it really true that Democrats don’t care about law and order or the Constitution? Jenna Ellis of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center thinks so:

Christian Dominionism at CPAC

Charlie Kirk is the twenty-six-year-old founder of a Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump non-profit organization active on college campuses.  He is also the co-founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center.  (You can read our posts on the Falkirk Center here).

Here is Kirk at the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC):


  • Kirk tells people to stop giving money to their universities because they are Marxist. The only universities that deserve our money are Liberty University and Hillsdale College.  Such a suggestion is immoral.  I have a friend who is getting cancer treatment right now at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center.  They need all the money they can get to help continue their research.  I am sure we can think of hundreds of other ways that research universities are at working solving the problems of our world today.
  • Kirk says that colleges are producing Marxists activists who will one day destroy America. Has he really been on university campuses?  Where are these activists?  Most college students in the United States are sharing photos on Instagram, watching Netflix, working two part-time jobs, and trying to keep up with their studies.
  • Kirk says that we should fear communists on school boards.  Really?  He should come visit central Pennsylvania.  Please contact me if you know of any communists elected to local school boards.
  • It is clear from Kirk’s speech that the Right sees Bernie Sanders as a real threat.  When the Christian Right starts fear-mongering it is a clear sign they are worried.  Bernie Sanders is not a communist or a Marxist.  He is not even a real socialist. When I interviewed a real socialist on my podcast a few weeks ago he told me that no true Marxist would support Sanders because he is not far enough to the left.
  • Kirk has a meltdown when the crowd boos Mitt Romney.  He encourages the boos and then goes-off on a rant about how Romney lied to the people of Utah by claiming to be a conservative during his Senate race.  In Kirk’s estimation, no one can be a true conservative and cast a vote to remove Donald Trump from office.  But think about this.  Romney’s vote to remove Trump was an example of faith-informed politics. It was made possible by the fact that the Utah Senator has the religious liberty to follow his conscience.  Last time I checked, pro-Trumpers are fighting for a faith-informed politics and religious liberty.  This is further proof that they only care about a faith-informed politics and religious liberty that benefits Trump.
  • Kirk says Obama, the president who ran in 2008 and 2012 to the right of all the Democratic candidates in this year’s race, is a Marxist.  This is not true.  It is more fear-mongering.
  • Finally, Kirk brings up the “7 Mountains of Cultural Influence” and claims that Trump understands them.  First, I am guessing that Trump has never heard of the “7 Mountains of Cultural Influence.”  Second, “7 Mountains” is a phrase used by Christian Dominionists who want to make America a Christian nation by taking control of family life, religious life, education, the media, the entertainment industry, business, and government.  For many Dominionists, the Second Coming of Christ will return when Christians gain power over these areas.  We spent a lot of time writing about this kind of Dominionism during the 2016 election and even won a journalism award for a piece on the subject at Christianity Today.   Read our posts here. Right Wing Watch has a good story on this here.

What is Christian Nationalism?


In the wake of the recent statement by Christians opposing Christian nationalism, several folks have suggested that Christian nationalism does not exist and the authors and endorsers of this statement are trying to knock down a straw man.


Read the entire piece by Tony Perkins linked in the last tweet above.  He, like many Christian nationalists, builds his entire case on the teachings of David Barton, most influential Christian nationalist in America.  More on him below.

I have written extensively on Christian nationalism–the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and should continue to privilege Christianity over all other religions, including atheism.  The most extreme Christian nationalists create political platforms focused on restoring, renewing, and reclaiming America in such a way that privileges evangelical Christianity.  Many of these extreme Christian nationalists may also be described as “dominionists” because they want to take “dominion” over government, culture, economic life, religion, the family, education, and the family.  Christian nationalists of all varieties are marked by their unwillingness or failure to articulate a vision of American life defined by pluralism.

As a political movement, Christian nationalism is defined by a fear that America’s Christian identity is eroding, a belief that the pursuit of political power is the way to “win back” America, and a nostalgia for a Christian nation that probably never existed in the first place.

Christian nationalists also do not have a problem bringing patriotism into their congregations through holiday celebrations, American flags, and nationalist sermons that focus on American exceptionalism or endorse political candidates.  With the exception of Easter and Christmas, their yearly services tend to focus more on the secular/national calendar than the Christian calendar.

Christian nationalism not only exists, but it is a view of church and state that drives a significant part of the Donald Trump presidency.  As I argued in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, some of the fastest-growing evangelical groups in the United States embrace Christian nationalism.

If you want a recent glimpse of Christian nationalism at work, read the following transcript from David Barton’s “Wallbuilders” radio program.  As many of you know, Barton is a self-professed dominionist and GOP politician who uses the past to promote his Christian nationalist agenda.  He knows a lot of facts about American history, but he does not think historically about these facts.  In other words, he is oblivious to context, change over time, contingency, causation, and the complexity of the human experience.  Despite the fact that his work as a historian has been discredited, he still has a large following and his disciples include GOP lawmakers and most of Donald Trump’s court evangelicals.  Those who still follow him believe that his critics–many of them evangelical Christian historians–have been overly influenced by secular ideology.

Here is an exchange between David Barton and his son and protege Tim Barton:

Free Exercise of Religion Involves Free Speech

The government is supposed to protect those rights. It’s interesting that there is free speech; but, in addition to free speech, there is also free exercise of religion which often involves free speech. For me to exercise my faith means I will speak about it, live it out,  activate, and do it.

By the way, I have the right to assembly. So, I can get together with other believers and we can act out our faith. When you look, secular speech is protected by the Constitution; but, religious speech has several protections in the First Amendment.

It’s not the same as somebody has the right to say, “I dislike Trump.” Okay, your free speech is protected. But, what I have in the First Amendment is, really, my religious speech-slash-expression protected by three clauses.

So, it really gets more attention, or more protection if you will, than just normal, secular speech. But, what the decision did back in 1980, said, “No, religious speech is equal to secular speech, and you get no more protection than anybody else gets.” Well, that’s not what the First Amendment gave me.

It gave me more protection because I get my speech but if it’s religious, I get it twice. And, if it is religious with others, I get it three times.


Now, is it religious with others? Because, let’s unfold this little bit. We have the freedom of speech.

You have the freedom of religion or expression, the free exercise thereof. So, we would say that you have speech and free exercise; those are two clauses from the First Amendment. What’s a third one you’re saying we get if we are religious with others, that we’re also protected there; what’s the third one?

The Right to Peaceably Assemble


You have the right peaceably to assemble. That means you can get with others, and you can get with others who believe what you believe express your beliefs as a group.


So, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the freedom of assembly. As a Christian, it actually protects you in all three of those aspects.


That’s Right.


So, it’s not just you have the freedom of speech, we also have the free expression of religion. And, you have the right assemble with other people who believe what you believe, as you mentioned, as long as it’s peaceably. So, there really are multiple protections of religious faith in the First Amendment.


While religious folks have at least three different forms of protection under the First Amendment for their speech, secular folks how their protections as well for speech and assembly. But, they just don’t have the same religious {motivation}.


Arguably, they have the exact same protections that a religious person does, it’s just that if they choose not to have a religion or exercise their religion, they don’t have to. But, the same protection is there for everybody. And, this is where, as a Christian, you don’t lose the protection because you’re a Christian.


You actually get added protection because it singles out your religious expression. And, that’s a level of protection the Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that religious folks had. So, they singled that out to give, if you will, added protection if you’re a religious folk.

What happened in that decision in 1980 was the court said, “No, no, no. Religious folks, secular folks, everybody gets the same protection. Well, that’s not what the First Amendment says.

What Does the First Amendment Say?

The First Amendment says, “Hey, religion is so vitally important that you get added, special protection.” And, that’s why when you look at George Washington’s Farewell Address, it says, “Hey, of everything that makes politics work well, religion and morality are the two things you can’t separate out.” So, they went to great lengths to make sure that religion and morality through religion, were protected in the public square.

Well, that decision, Smith in 1980, said, “No, no, your religion is just speech. That’s all it is, nothing more; there’s no added protection.” So, since 1980, whenever we have to argue religious expression cases, we don’t argue on the basis of religion, which is what the First Amendment protects.

See what Barton is doing here?  He is twisting the Constitution to make it say that Christians have more protection under the law than non-Christians.  This is an attempt to privilege Christianity over other religions and no religion.  This, my friends, is Christian nationalism.

I still would like to see more evangelicals–leaders or otherwise–sign this statement.   I know that there are a lot of political reasons not to sign a statement like this. I get it.

But what if we inverted the major points of this statement?  It would read something like this:

  • Only Christians have the right to engage constructively in the public square
  • Patriotism requires us to minimize our religious convictions
  • Only Christians should contribute to one’s standing in the civic community
  • Government should prefer Christianity or other religions
  • The government, not the churches, should be instructing people in religious belief
  • You can’t bring your religious convictions to bear on civic life in a pluralist society unless you are a Christian.
  • Conflating religious authority and political authority is not idolatrous.
  • When Christian nationalism leads to acts of violence and intimidation and hate crimes we should be silent.
  • America has many second-class faiths and not all faiths are equal under the U.S. Constitution.

*The Guardian* and *Salon* Cover *Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump*

Believe Me 3dHere is Tom McCarthy at The Guardian:

Meanwhile, Trump has addressed a central concern for white evangelicals that they are losing influence as a group and that the sun is setting on the United States they dream of – a nation that is white and Christian in its majority and in its essence.

“They’ll look away from the moral indiscretion in order to get their political agenda in place… they want to reclaim, renew, restore what they believe was a Christian culture, a Christian America that has been lost,” said John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and the author of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

Trump’s perceived delivery on that dream overwhelms qualms that many religious voters might have about sexual assault allegations against Trump, or about his multiple marriages or worship of mammon, Fea said.

“They don’t see this at all as hypocrisy,” Fea said. “They believe that Trump is appointed by God for a moment such as this. They believe that God uses corrupt people – there are examples in the Bible of this, so they’ll call upon these verses.

“They truly believe that ‘God works in mysterious ways. He uses even someone like Donald Trump to accomplish His will.’”

Read the entire piece here.

And here is Paul Rosenberg at Salon:

Clarkson’s reporting was his latest on Project Blitz — a Christian right stealth state legislative campaign first exposed by him early last year, and reported here at Salon. As I wrote then, its guiding vision is heavily influenced by pseudo-historian David Barton, who “has been discredited by every American historian I know,” according to evangelical historian John Fea. (See Fea’s latest on Barton here.) The myth of America’s founding as a Christian nation, and our supposed need to restore what’s been lost, are its guiding lights, with three proposed tiers of legislation.

Also this:

There are different schools of dominionism, and as Julie Ingersoll explained in “Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction” (Salon interview here), their ideas have had enormous influence on the religious right, even among many Christians who overtly disavow them. Barton and many others involved with Project Blitz subscribe to what is called “Seven Mountains” dominionism, devoted to infiltrating and taking over the “seven mountains of culture”: government, education, media, arts and entertainment, religion, family and business. Coming out of the “New Apostolic Reformation,” styling themselves as “apostles” and “prophets,” those folks have an exalted opinion of themselves. Secretive, extremist means to a “holy” end often find favor with them. 

Clarkson points to the case of state legislation in Minnesota, which he sees as “a harbinger of a more profoundly theocratic politics on the horizon.” Project Blitz works through a network of state-level legislative prayer caucuses, and in Minnesota, the state director, Rev. Dale Witherington, also runs an explicit Seven Mountains organization, RestoreMN, devoted to the “restoration of Biblical values in our nation” and “Biblical citizenship.” 

This year provided a taste of what he has in mind. The story begins with an attempt to slash the budget of the Minnesota Historical Society by $4 million (possibly resulting in a 25% staff cuts) for failing to conform to Christian nationalist ideology. 

When the cuts were first proposed by State Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, a Republican, she refused to explain why, beyond saying it was because of an unspecified “controversy.” State Sen. John Marty, a Twin Cities Democrat, eventually got the scoop from another Republican member, who explained that it had to do with “what he called ‘revisionist history’ at the 200-year-old Historic Fort Snelling.

This “revisionist history” involved the fort expanding its educational mission to include the Dakota name for the area, Bdote, and a 10,000-year history that included “Native peoples, trade, soldiers and veterans, enslaved people, immigrants, and the changing landscape.” That history happens to be true. But as Marty told me, religious conservatives “wanted the history that they were taught 4th grade, and think that that’s all there is to it. Anything else is ‘revisionist history.’” 

Those proposed cuts restored by Democrats, who control the state House and the governor’s office. But the story doesn’t end there. In the May issue of Americans United’s Church and State magazine, historian Steven Greene blew the whistle on what’s probably the real story — a behind-the-scenes threat from the Minnesota Prayer Caucus, to slash the Historical Society funding in retaliation for scheduling two lectures based on his 2015 book, “Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding.

Greene’s book was published by Oxford University Press, arguably the world’s leading academic publisher, and was praised by evangelical historian John Fea, himself the author of “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction.” Fea called it “the most thorough critique of Christian nationalism available today,” and said, “Anyone interested in this subject must read this book.” (Fea and Greene both took part in a 2015 CNN forum on the subject here.) 

But the Minnesota Prayer Caucus was not impressed, and accused the Historical Society of “promoting a narrative about our nation’s history and founding that is patently false.” (Mind you, its members had not seen the book, let alone read it.) After an exchange of letters, the caucus eventually made a veiled threat, requesting “that our side of the story be presented with your support and promotion through the Minnesota Historical Society,” and saying that it should be scheduled and promoted by May 1 of this year, “when committees begin to meet to review appropriations to various organizations and groups.”

Read the entire piece here.

Glenn Beck: “I guarantee you the [history] professors at college will have the wrong answer”

Do you want your kids to have a two-week internship in the “historic library of [Glenn Beck’s ) Mercury One?”  You can participate in this internship program with Beck’s studio historian David Barton for $375.

If you want to be part of this Beck-Barton attempt to promote Christian America you can expect to learn things like this:

Mercury One is opening up our library for a hands-on experience to research original historical documents from our incredible collection, providing specialized teaching and instruction, and the opportunity to gain a wealth of knowledge from our speakers and guest lecturers.

This unique, once in a lifetime experience is two weeks of nonstop projects, research, lectures, and outings for people who want to know more about America’s incredible history, learn about the people directly involved with the founding of our nation, and identify the philosophies and ideologies that shaped our laws and original documents.

We spend our mornings in a classroom-like setting and each afternoon we dig through online resources as well as our unique, original library. We will delve into topics such as:

  • A Biblical Worldview
  • The Truth in History
  • America’s Godly Heritage
  • Early Education in America
  • How the Bible Influenced America
  • American Exceptionalism
  • God and the Constitution
  • Reclaiming the Land

We will research our Founding Fathers, discovering their accomplishments, families, and faith, giving individual presentations at the end of each week.This is a specialized training for 18-25 year old. Apply now for this limited space opportunity. The cost is $375.

All interns are required to provide their own transportation, food and lodging in the Dallas area.

Let me take a guess about how the topics listed above will be taught:

A Biblical World View:  This means that Barton will teach you that the founding fathers upheld a view of the world just happens to be identical to the “world view” of the Christian Right wing of the Republican Party.

The Truth in History:  I am guessing that this means you will be learning some form of providential history.

America’s Godly HeritageYou will learn that all or most of the founding fathers were Christians and that they were trying to build a Christian nation.

Early Education in America:  You will learn that all of the founding fathers were graduates of theological seminaries and Bible colleges.

How the Bible Influenced America:  You will learn that the separation of powers actually comes from the Old Testament and that preachers used the Bible to serve their own political ends.  You may even learn that the use of the Bible to serve political ends is a good thing.

American Exceptionalism: You will learn that America is a “city on a hill.”  It is exceptional because it is the new Israel–God’s chosen people.

God and the Constitution:  Not sure how this one will be taught since God is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

Reclaiming the Land:  You will learn about Seven Mountain Dominionism and the need to restore America to its supposedly Christian roots.  In other words, you will learn the same lessons that Ted Cruz learned from David Barton.

Want to learn more about David Barton?  Click here.

For a more nuanced view of all of these issues click here.


Revisiting Ted Cruz’s Dominionism

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks with moderator Eric Metaxas at the National Religious Broadcasters Annual Convention at Oryland in Nashville

Ted Cruz, left, speaks with moderator Eric Metaxas at the National Religious Broadcasters Annual Convention at Oryland in Nashville, Tennessee, on February 26, 2016. 

Earlier this year I wrote a few things that connected Ted Cruz to the Christian political philosophy known as dominionism.  In a piece I wrote for Religion News Service which was published in The Washington Post, I suggested the Cruz’s campaign for POTUS was “fueled by a dominionist vision for America.”  A few months later I wrote a piece for Christianity Today titled “The Theology of Ted Cruz.”  If my e-mail box is any indication, a lot of Cruz supporters were not happy about these articles.

Cruz, of course, did not get the GOP nomination and I moved on to other things.  But this conversation about Cruz’s ties to dominionism will no doubt resurface if he becomes the GOP candidate for POTUS in 2020 or 2024.  If Cruz does run again, Frederick Clarkson, a senior fellow at Political Research Associates and an observer of the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) dominionism that often informs the rhetoric and policy of the Christian Right, will be ready.

In a very thorough and extensively researched report titled “Dominionism Rising: A Theocratic Movement Hiding in Plain Sight” Clarkson offers an introduction to the dominionist movement and how it is shaping GOP politics.  Clarkson draws on some of my stuff on Cruz and on an excellent book by Florida State University professor Michael McVicar titled Christian Reconstruction: R.J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).  Readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home will recall our Author’s Corner interview with McVicar.

Here is a taste of Clarkson’s piece:

All of this was pretty hot stuff and dominionism would no doubt have become more of an issue had Ted Cruz’s 2016 campaign lasted longer. But Cruz is 45 years old in 2016 and appears to have a bright—and perhaps historic—political future. He won statewide office on his first try and has benefited from being underestimated. Since arriving in the Senate in 2103, he has made a show of sticking to his principles, much to the chagrin of his colleagues. But following his presidential run, Cruz is now one of the best known politicians in the country and possible heir- apparent to the Reagan revolution. No small achievement for a freshman senator.

Meanwhile Cruz and other national pols comprise the tip of a very large, but hard to measure political iceberg. There are untold numbers of dominionist and dominionism-influenced politicians and public officials at all levels of government and who even after leaving office, shape our political discourse. Roy Moore, the elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has been a rallying figure for dominionists of all stripes for the better part of two decades. Most recently, he has led efforts to exempt Alabama from federal court ordered compliance with marriage equality, citing his view of “God’s law.” Moore’s fellow Alabaman, Justice Tom Parker, has been on the court since 2004, and has employed theocratic legal theorist John Eidsmoe as his chief of staff.15 Others at the top of recent American political life have included Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee,16 and Newt Gingrich.17 Other prominent elected officials in the dominionist camp include Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-TX),18 Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS),19 Sen. James Lankford (R-OK),20 and Rep. Steve King (R-IA).21

Prominent politicians’ involvement in dominionism is certainly the most visible evidence of the movement’s advances over the past half-century, but it’s not the only result. Dominionism is a story not widely or well understood. Because this is so, it is important to know what dominionism is and where it came from, so we can see it more clearly and better understand its contemporary significance.

Read the entire thing here.


David Barton at Liberty University



David Barton

Russ Allen did his undergraduate degree in history at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and just completed his M.A. in history from Liberty University where he wrote an excellent thesis on Jonathan Edwards and children.  Yesterday Russ found his way into a David Barton conversation with Liberty University government students and agreed to write something about the experience for The Way of Improvement Leads HomeEnjoy.  –JF

On Thursday afternoon David Barton came to speak at an event at Liberty University. Barton is an acclaimed (and criticized) evangelical author and political activist. He is also the director of Ted Cruz’s “Keep the Promise” super-PAC.

This is not the first time that Barton has spoken at Liberty University. Barton spoke during two convocations in years past and has been a regular guest at the Helms School of Government. The event held on Thursday was sponsored by “Christians 4 Freedom,” a student organization that seeks to “inform and educate Christians on the Bill of Rights.”

The first time that I heard Barton’s name was in a graduate-level history classroom at Liberty University. In that setting Barton was almost unanimously viewed as a model of someone engaging in historical fallacy. His works are discussed only in light of their faults and supplemented with strong scholarly criticism.

Barton’s appearance on Thursday went largely under the radar, at least from my perspective as a student in the Liberty History Department. The History Department did not promote or advertise his talk.  Frankly, I am not sure if they even knew about it. I was invited by a friend via Facebook on the day of the event. I was under the impression that Barton would be speaking to a large group about government and religion, but when I arrived  at the event I found myself sitting right next to Mr. Barton at a conference table with about 25 people in attendance.

Barton was in friendly territory. Most students, a majority from the Helms School, support his ideas. Barton is a very likable guy. I had a personal conversation with him and he offered me well-wishes for my future. As for the discussion, it focused mainly on two key areas:

FirstBarton traced the beginning of his work in history and politics to a research inquiry that he was asked to investigate many years ago. In a quest to discover the cause of the steep decline in SAT scores among American high school students, Barton concluded that this decline began the same year that prayer was removed from public schools. Convinced that this was not a coincidence, Barton began to publicly argue that moral and social decay in America was caused by the removal of “Christian values” from the public sphere.

While I have numerous concerns about Barton’s argument on this front, several are worthy of mention. Anyone who takes an entry-level statistics class knows that “correlation ≠ causation.” While it remains uncertain how Barton concluded that the removal of school prayer directly affected SAT scores, one can only assume that it stems from his preconceived view of America as a Christian nation. He believes that when God is not honored by the country, “bad things happen.”  Along these lines, Barton also suggested that the legalization of abortion is causing global warming.

SecondBarton spoke strongly in support of Ted Cruz’s decision to appoint Carly Fiorina as his running mate and  suggested that her role  in a Cruz presidency will be much more significant than the Vice President’s role in years past. If elected, the Cruz campaign plans to reinstate the VP’s reign over the Senate in the hopes of nullifying the influence of the president pro tempore, who commonly acts in the VP’s absence. This is another interesting development given the history of Cruz’s clashes with the GOP establishment.

Barton also expressed frustration over liberal media outlets that are refusing to report “dirt” on Donald Trump until after the GOP convention in Cleveland. Barton claims that members in the media already possess damning information regarding Trump but want to withhold the material until the general election in order to “sink him” in favor of Hillary. Barton believes that if this information were rightly exposed now, Cruz would easily win the GOP nomination.

After the formal discussion, I had the opportunity to ask Barton if he or Ted Cruz was a Dominionist.  Barton seemed annoyed at the question, insisting that in no way could he (Barton) be linked to Dominionism because he holds a pre-millennial eschatology that affirms that Jesus will come back to gather true believers before a one-thousand year reign of peace. He claims that Dominionism stems from a post-millennial view in which Christians need to reclaim the earth in order to usher in Christ’s second coming.

Barton did, however, confirm his belief in the “Seven Mountains” approach to culture.  He believes that Christians need to influence every aspect of society. His denial of Dominionism, but his embrace of the “Seven Mountains” approach, is a bit confusing, as it seems the word “mountains” implies “dominion.” Barton also insists that Cruz’s silence on the the Seven Mountains approach is a political tactic.

Barton thinks that the use of the word Dominionism to describe Cruz is just a way for liberals to attach an unfavorable label to the Texas Senator. Calling Cruz a Dominionist is the same as skeptics calling Jesus a “glutton and a drunkard (Matt.11:19).” Rather than address the claim that he is a Dominionist, Barton advises Cruz instead to talk openly about liberty and freedom in order to squelch accusations that he is a theocrat.

David Barton’s support at Liberty University should not be surprising. Many of the students and faculty share his concern for the growing immorality that surrounds them. I certainly sympathize with this view. This mutual concern makes Barton’s historical claims understandably enticing for those who are only “casually” involved in the study of history.

However, it seems that there is also a growing number of Barton opponents on campus. They disagree with him not as much for his faulty views of  history, but for his theology. Barton’s belief that the United States is “Christian nation” or that God will judge the country for its sins, is a regurgitated version of the Puritan belief that America is a “City on a Hill.”  Barton’s conviction that God can bestow blessing and wrath on a nation is a deterrent for many young evangelicals who see a problem with comparing the United States to the biblical nation of Israel.

It is unclear how much impact Barton and Cruz have among young conservative evangelicals.  Liberty University’s voting precinct voted 44% in favor of Marco Rubio. Cruz garnered 33% of the vote.  Russell Moore’s placement of Cruz in the “Jerry Falwell wing” of the GOP evidently did not apply to the students at Falwell’s school. With politics, history, and theology woven together so tightly in the Barton/Cruz campaign, it remains to be seen which thread will be strongest among young Christian voters.

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. 

David Barton Doubles Down on 7 Mountain Dominionism

David Barton runs a very wealthy Ted Cruz super-PAC.  I wrote about the connection between Barton and Cruz here and here.  Barton compares God’s laws (613 in total, he says) for the Old Testament nation of Israel with the government of the United States.

At about 38:30, Mark Cowart, a pastor of the “Church for All Nations” in Colorado Springs, starts talking about the “Seven Mountains of Influence.” Both Cowart and Barton argue that evangelicals have failed to engage the “mountain” of government.  Really?  What has been happening since the rise of the Christian Right in the late 1970s?

Cowart also argues that the American founding fathers belong in Hebrews 11 right alongside Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, etc…

Cowart, who is the new director of Barton’s school of government at Charis Bible College, also relies on Peter Marshall and David Manuel’s The Light and the Glory and the story of the Black Robe Regiment.  For an alternative Christian take on The Light and the Glory click here.  For our posts on some of the problems with the Black Robe Regiment click here.

By the way, the idea that pastors should be involved in government is something that many of the state governments thought was a bad idea.

On Left-Wing McCarthyism and My “Farcical” Take on Ted Cruz

Cruz founders

A couple of weeks ago a friend called my attention to a Facebook post criticizing my Washington Post article about Ted Cruz’s dominionism.  It was written by Robert Gagnon, a New Testament professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and, from what I have been able to glean from his Facebook page, an ardent Cruz supporter.  (I could be wrong about his support of Cruz.  I am happy to be corrected).

I have never heard of Gagnon before, but when I looked at his Facebook page I noticed that he is very popular among Christian conservatives for his defense of traditional marriage.   Some of my friends and colleagues (in real life) are friends with him on Facebook.  Since I respect many of the folks who follow him on Facebook, I concluded that I needed to take his criticisms seriously.

Then today I learned that Gagnon and his colleague Edith Humphrey had taken to  Christianity Today to respond to my recent piece, “The Theology of Ted Cruz.” Their essay is entitled “Stop Calling Ted Cruz a Dominionist.” In the essay that compare me to Joseph McCarthy and say that my take on Cruz is “farcical.”

Here is a response to their piece.  Sorry for the bullet points, but I am at a conference this weekend, making it hard to craft something more formal. It looks like Christianity Today is going to give Gagnon and Humphrey the last word on this issue.  I understand why this is the case.  But if they would allow me to respond I will be happy to write something more formal.  Here goes:

  • I share Gagnon’s and Humphey’s (and Robert George–although it’s not clear if the article actually quotes George since there are no quotation marks) concerns about the overuse of the word “dominionism.”  I actually wrote about that here.
  • I agree with Gagnon and Humphrey on the point that Ted Cruz is a strict constitutionalist.  (Who wouldn’t?)
  • When Robert George says (again, is this him or Gagnon and Humphrey?) that Cruz is “not a dominionist; he’s a constitutionalist” I got a bit confused.  I would argue that it is possible to be both.  For example, Glenn Beck, a Cruz supporter who has introduced the Texas Senator at rallies , believes that the Constitution is inspired by God, that Ted Cruz is anointed by God to be President, that God took the life of Antonin Scalia as part of His plan to make Cruz president, and that Cruz will restore the United States to a Christian nation.  Is this a case of guilty by association? Probably.  But when Beck and Cruz appear on the same stage it raises legitimate questions.  Does Cruz also believe all of these things?  Is Cruz willing to denounce or separate himself from Beck’s constitutionalist dominionism even it means possibly losing the support of Beck’s large following?  I seem to remember John McCain denouncing  Rev. John Hagee in 2008.  I also remember Barack Obama denouncing Jeremiah Wright in the same year. Both of these candidates were accused of being “guilty by association” with religious leaders.  Both eventually cut ties.
  • Is religious liberty an issue for Christians right now?  Absolutely.  I am bothered, for example, by last year’s case at Gordon College.  Faith-based institutions that hold traditional views on marriage based on deeply held religious convictions should be not be punished for those beliefs.  The same goes for the various issues related to contraception, Obamacare, and the Little Sisters of the Poor.  This is why I argued in my Christianity Today piece for something akin to a “principled pluralism.”  In order for this kind of pluralism to work we need to figure out some way to live together amid our deepest differences. But, as I also I argued in the CT article, Cruz seldom talks about specific cases where non-Christian groups are facing discrimination. Yes, he opposed Ben Carson’s view that a Muslim could not be President, but at the same time he proposed religious profiling in Muslim communities.  One could make a pretty strong argument that Muslims are facing just as many threats to their religious liberty as Christians.  It would seem that someone as deeply committed to the First Amendment as Cruz would also be talking about these threats.
  • In his interview with Megyn Kelly before the Wisconsin primary (picking up at the 17:40 mark of the linked video), Kelly asked Cruz what he would say to an atheist who felt uncomfortable with other students praying to God at a school function.  Cruz said that an atheist in this situation has the “right not to participate” in the prayer, but “does not have the right to silence everyone else.” It appears that Cruz is suggesting that religious liberty issues should be decided by an appeal to democracy, or the idea that the majority of the people at a school function have the privilege of exercising their religious beliefs regardless of whether or not that exercise violates the conscience of another student. This approach seems to run roughshod over minority rights.  (James Madison had a thing or two to say about this).  I wonder what Cruz would say if the majority of students in the classroom decided to pray to Allah and a Christian student in the class was offended by this.  Would Cruz say that the complaint of the Christian student was the equivalent of a “heckler’s veto?”  I am guessing that Cruz would be screaming bloody murder because this Christian’s religious liberties were violated. Perhaps I am wrong about this.  Whatever the case, I would like to hear Cruz address such a scenario.
  • When Megyn Kelly asked Cruz if his faith informed or inspired his policy, Ctuz dodged the question.  When Kelly asked Cruz general questions about his faith, he stated openly that he is a Christian.  He also said that he is not “running for pastor-in-chief.”  In the interview with Kelly he said that as President of the United States it is not his job to preach, evangelize or tell people that they are going to hell.  This, in a nutshell, is Cruz’s understanding of the separation of church and state.  Ministers have jobs to do.  Presidents have jobs to do. And those jobs are different.  No argument here.  In fact, I think John Winthrop, the first governor of the Puritan Massachusetts Bay colony and the great defender of his settlement as a “city on a hill,” would have said the same thing.  Winthrop was not a clergyman, he was a political leader.  His job was to govern.  It was the job of the ministers in the colony to preach.  But anyone familiar with the story of 17th-century Massachusetts Bay knows that Winthrop and the clergy worked together–the religious arm and the civil arm, so to speak–in building a civilization that privileged the Puritan’s particular brand of Christianity.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that if Cruz becomes President he will start punishing non-Christians. What I am saying is that the claim that he is not going to be a”pastor-in-chief” is different from the practice of employing his religious beliefs to shape public policy, especially if he is working with the model made popular by the Christian Right in the 1980s.
  • I should also add that I have no problem with a faith-informed presidency.  I think that Barack Obama Christian’s faith played a role in his presidency.  Back in 2008, at the Compassion Forum at Messiah College, I listened to Obama lay out, in very specific ways, how his faith would inform his time in office.  Now I want Cruz to do the same and stop hiding behind this “I am not a pastor-in-chief” line.
  • Gagnon and Humphrey suggest that Cruz’s support of Israel is based entirely on “analytical and strategic grounds.”  Perhaps.  But Cruz’s close ties to Larry Huch, a so-called “Hebrew Christian” who pastors a large megachurch in Texas, makes me wonder if there is a theological basis for his strong commitment to Israel and his desire to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which he is always quick to describe as the “once and eternal capital of Israel.”  See my post on this here.
  • Cruz needs to answer for his connections to David Barton.  Over the last couple of weeks Barton has been talking openly about Seven Mountains Dominionism.  He is opening schools at Bible colleges around the country to teach this view. Let’s not forget that Barton runs a Cruz super-PAC.  This means that Barton, an outspoken dominionist, is raising a lot of money to get Cruz in the White House.  Guilty by association?  Perhaps.  Only Ted Cruz can set the record straight. Let’s remember that this guy is running for President of the United States.  I think he needs to come clean on his connections to people like Barton and Beck.
  • And what about Rafael Cruz?  His sermons and public statements sound a lot like dominionism to me.  He believes in the “end times transfer of wealth.”  He believes that his son is anointed to be President.  Let’s just say he is controversial.  Ted says that his father has been a great influence in his life.  Here is what Gagnon and Humphries write about Rafael: “One might not be comfortable with the style of worship or preaching, or agree with the biblical interpretation, the prosperity gospel, or eschatological scenarios. What is preached, however, amounts to an encouragement to his congregation to determine their gifts (administrative or spiritual), to be active and pleasant in their work places, and to influence society for good.”  This is their way of dismissing some of these out-of-the-mainstream beliefs. I guess the readers of our respective CT articles can decide.
  • And what about carpet-bombing and Cruz’s failure to uphold a consistent ethic of life?  Again, you can be the judge.  Cruz is fond of talking about killing terrorists and “carpet-bombing.”  Other times he says he will protect women and children.  As someone who believes in the dignity of all human creation, this does not sit well with me..
  • I am also bothered by Cruz’s Christian nationalism.  He believes that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and must be “restored.”  I still want to know what he means by this since there are some historical problems with such an assertion.
  • I am also uncomfortable, as a Christian, with the way Cruz mixes politics and faith.  I will stand by my conviction that politics do not belong in churches.  Neither do nationalistic displays.  (And this does not mean that I do not love my country!)  When Megyn Kelly asked Cruz to explain his God and country language, Cruz said that when he is on the campaign trail he focuses his message on “jobs, freedom, and security.” This seems disingenuous to me.  As Kelly notes (and as I referred to in my CT piece), Cruz manipulates scripture to suit his political ends, he brings his political team into churches to show people how to go to the polls and vote [presumably for him], he talks about leading a spiritual awakening that he subtly connects to his winning of the presidency, and he even told his supporters to “strap on the full-armour of God.”  (This phrase comes from Ephesians 6:11-12. It is worth quoting the verse in full in order to illustrate my point: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  I will let you draw your own conclusions on this one).
  • Ted Cruz stands unapologetically for many things that are important to evangelical Christians and to the God they worship and serve. At the same time he appeals, like his political rival Donald Trump, to our fears, anxieties, and idols.As we think about Cruz’s candidacy, let’s remember that “perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), even when it seems that our country is on the edge of “the abyss.” Let’s also remember to be “anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6-7). After all, as Christians, it is God, not the government or its leader that is the source of the “peace which surpasses all understanding.” And, perhaps most importantly, let’s remember that the United States, while a great and exceptional nation, is not the Kingdom of God. As the Apostle John reminded us, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21).

So where does this lead us?  Gagnon and Humphrey want us to ignore the issues I have raised in my two articles on Cruz.  I want Cruz to address these issues.  These questions will not go away, especially if Cruz manages to take the GOP nomination away from Trump at a contested convention.


“The Theology of Ted Cruz”

Cruz founders

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Here we go.

This piece just appeared at Christianity Today.

On the Sunday morning before this year’s South Carolina primary, Dr. Carl Broggi, the pastor of Community Bible Church in Beaufort, turned over his pulpit—emblazoned with the Protestant watchword “sola scriptura,” to GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz. I am not sure if it is fair to call Cruz’s speech that morning a “sermon.” The candidate did not open up a biblical text and carefully explain its meaning in the way that I am sure Dr. Broggi had been trained to do at Dallas Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Cruz did mention a few verses from the Bible during his message, but they were applied less to the spiritual lives of the souls in attendance that morning and more to the character of the United States of America as Cruz understands it. Let’s face it—this was a stump speech.

The Texas senator’s message was lifted from an old playbook. For nearly 400 years Americans have been conflating the message of the Bible with the fate of the country. Ever since the Puritan John Winthrop said that the Massachusetts Bay Colony was a “city on a hill” Americans have seen themselves as God’s chosen people—a new Israel with a special destiny.

Read the entire piece at Christianity Today.  And thanks to CT editors Mark Galli and Richard Clark for inviting me to write it and companion piece to Michael Horton’s recent essay on Trump.

David Barton and “Guilty By Association”

David Barton says that Ted Cruz is not a dominionist.  He seems pretty upset about The Drudge Report‘s recent links to an Orlando newspaper that ran an article on Cruz drawing heavily from my Washington Post piece on his theo-political vision.

Here is an article from World News Daily entitled “David Barton Defends Ted Cruz From “Religious Extremist Innuendo.”  (I should add the World News Daily is the publisher of Barton’s discredited The Jefferson Lies.

Here is a taste:

“They are trying to make something out of this,” said Barton. “Unfortunately that’s part of what goes into any campaign, the yellow journalism, the innuendo, the kind of making the noise about, ‘Look how terrible this is.’…”

“There are at least 500 million people in the world who are Pentecostal Christians,” said Barton. “Even if he was doing this, this is a major part of the Christian community. It’s being shown in a pejorative way to make it look like something weird and strange. It’s not a big deal because of how large this group of people is.”

Barton condemned any use of “guilt by association” tactics on the Right, by anyone, and was equally critical of similar attacks that might be levied against Trump, Marco Rubio and other candidates.

“Look at Rubio’s funders; so many of them are supporters of gay marriage,” said Barton as an example. “So do we read into that that Rubio is a pusher of gay marriage? No, that’s not a fair read. You’ve got 330 million people in the United States. Are we going to look at every voter who might vote for Trump, or Rubio, or Cruz, or for Kasich and say, ‘Well, look at what this voter believes, that’s ridiculous.’

“Unless the candidate himself personally associates himself and makes that a part of what he does, the guilt by association is ridiculous. Where do you stop and at what level do you call association?”

Of course Barton, and most Christian conservatives, did not seem to have a problem with using the “guilty by association” argument when he claimed that Barack Obama was not a Christian because he was a member of Jeremiah Wright’s United Church of Christ congregation.


Rod Dreher and the Dominionism of Ted Cruz

Cruz Iowa

I have taken a lot of heat from Ted Cruz supporters for my recent Religion News Service post (published in The Washington Post) about the candidate’s connection to dominionism and the so-called “end-times transfer of wealth.”  If the e-mails filling my mailbox are any indication, Cruz supporters think I am engaging in the logical fallacy of “guilty by association.”  Perhaps this is the case.  Cruz has never mentioned “Seven Mountain Dominionism” or the “end-times transfer of wealth” on the campaign travel.  But as Rod Dreher, blogger extraordinaire at The American Conservative points out, I think it is at least time for Cruz to address some of the theological and political ideas put forth by his father, Rafael Cruz, and others in the evangelical world with whom the candidate has connections.  

If Barack Obama had to explain the views of Jeremiah Wright, then Cruz needs to explain the views of his father, Larry Huch, Glenn Beck, and David Barton.

The last time I checked, Cruz does not believe in the separation of church and state because, as he rightly notes, the phrase is not mentioned in the Constitution.  He is a strong defender of Christianity in public life and believes that a candidate’s Christian faith should inform his or her politics. So I think it is fair to say that Cruz himself has opened a door to questions about his religious approach to politics.

Here is a taste of Dreher’s post at The American Conservative:

Shoot, I’m a Christian and I don’t get this at all. That video is up on Drudge now. It was taken four years ago at a Dallas-area Pentecostal megachurch, New Beginnings, pastored by a husband and wife team, Larry and Tiz Huch. Everybody’s talking about how, in his appearance at the church, Rafael Cruz, father of Ted and a Pentecostal evangelist, preached about Dominionism, and how, in his view, it is God’s will that Christians take the property of non-Christians, and rule over them. John Fea wrote about this in the Washington Post:

Anyone who has watched Cruz on the stump knows that he often references the important role that his father, traveling evangelist Rafael Cruz, has played in his life. During a 2012 sermon at New Beginnings Church in Bedford, Texas, Rafael Cruz described his son’s political campaign as a direct fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

The elder Cruz told the congregation that God would anoint Christian “kings” to preside over an “end-time transfer of wealth” from the wicked to the righteous. After this sermon, Larry Huch, the pastor of New Beginnings, claimed Cruz’s recent election to the U.S. Senate was a sign that he was one of these kings.

According to his father and Huch, Ted Cruz is anointed by God to help Christians in their effort to “go to the marketplace and occupy the land … and take dominion” over it. This “end-time transfer of wealth” will relieve Christians of all financial woes, allowing true believers to ascend to a position of political and cultural power in which they can build a Christian civilization. When this Christian nation is in place (or back in place), Jesus will return.

Rafael Cruz and Larry Huch preach a brand of evangelical theology called Seven Mountains Dominionism. They believe Christians must take dominion over seven aspects of culture: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business and government. The name of the movement comes from Isaiah 2:2: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains.”

Now, it is unfair to Ted Cruz to assume that everything his father believes, he also believes. But this stuff is so extreme that he has to talk about it publicly, and either defend it or separate himself from it in a clear way. What’s striking to me about that video is that this megachurch has no cross above its stage, but rather a menorah. Again, don’t blame Jews for this; I’m sure most Jews are as mystified by that as most Christians would be.

Read the entire post here.

It Looks Like *The Drudge Report* Found My Ted Cruz/Dominionism Article


Well, it looks like it may be one of those days.

When I got to my office here at Mount Vernon this morning I had several e-mails from some conservative friends and acquaintances informing me that my piece on Ted Cruz and dominionism was linked at the conservative website “The Drudge Report.”

The link comes from an article in the East Orlando Post.

Here is a taste of that article:

The government is being shut down so that God’s bankers can bring Jesus back. In an editorial published in the Washington Post on Feb. 4, on the heels of Cruz’s victory in the Iowa GOP primary, John Fea of the Religion News Service published an op-ed piece noting the frequent references Ted Cruz makes in stump speeches to his father “the traveling evangelist” Rafael Cruz.   “During a 2012 sermon at the New Beginnings Church in Bedford, Texas, Rafael Cruz described his son’s political campaign as a direct fulfillment of biblical prophecy,” Fea wrote. “The elder Cruz told the congregation God would anoint Christian ‘kings’ to preside over an ‘end-time transfer of wealth’ from the wicked to the righteous. After this sermon, Larry Huch, the pastor of New Beginnings, claimed Cruz’s recent election to the U.S. Senate was a sign he was one of these kings.”   Fea noted that Rafael Cruz and Larry Huch preach a brand of evangelical theology known as Seven Mountains Dominionism. The name comes from Isaiah 2:2, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the Lord’s house shall be established on top of the mountains.”   Fea commented that Rafael Cruz believes Christians must take dominion over seven aspects of culture: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government.   By identifying Ted Cruz as the “anointed one,” Rafael Cruz has designated his son as what he believes is God’s choice to lead an evangelical coup d’etat, such that, as Fea notes, “Cruz’s campaign may be less about the White House and more about the white horses that will usher in the God’s Kingdom in the New Testament book of Revelation, Chapter 19.”    

Hold on tight.

Ted Cruz: Politician or Originalist?


After watching George Stephanopoulos interview Ted Cruz it is apparent that Cruz is placing politics and his own vision for America over the United States Constitution. Cruz is a master of diversion. Notice how he does not directly answer a lot of Stephanopolous’s questions.

Is Barack Obama really a “lame-duck” president?  At what point does a POTUS become a “lame duck?”

Cruz says that he would filibuster any Obama appointee because “the people” should decide on who will replace Scalia.  When Stephanopolous pointed out that the people elected Obama, Cruz’s said “that was three years ago.”  What?  Doesn’t the Constitution say that the President serves a four-year term?

Someone help me out here.  I understand that the Senate has every right to reject an Obama nominee.  But is the fact that the POTUS is a “lame duck” and thus should not be making  an appointment so late in his term a legitimate reason for rejecting any nominee he sends to the Senate?

Kevin Kruse of Princeton University makes an important point in this satirical tweet:

Again, Cruz is placing politics and his moral vision for America over the Constitution, the document he claims to vigorously defend.  This leads me to believe that Cruz may be motivated by something other than strict constitutionalism.