Perry, Bachmann, and Christian Dominionists

There’s a difference between political fundamentalist Islam and political fundamentalist Christianity. The difference is that there’s no actual plot to subject the country to Islamic law.

If you think that Perry’s views on the Constitution are crazy, his politico-religious beliefs (and Bachmann’s), centered around Christian Dominionism, are scary-crazy.

There isn’t actually a movement to subject non-Muslim Americans to Sharia. But there is actually a movement to subject the whole country to what the most whacked-out fundamentalists think of as Biblical law.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

19 thoughts on “Perry, Bachmann, and Christian Dominionists”

  1. Note to Mark: Disagreeing with you isn’t a sign of insanity. You’re way to quick to identify your personal ideology with “reality”.

  2. Brett-
    If you think Mark is wrong here you do evidence signs of insanity or willful ignorance on an enormous scale. Just do some reading on the topic before you spout off if you are 1/10th the libertarian you claim to be.

  3. Note to Brett: Bachmann and Perry’s beliefs aren’t crazy because Mark disagrees with them. Mark disagrees with them because they’re crazy.

  4. Note to Brett: does believing that the tribal god of an ancient sheepherder called Abraham created the universe count as a sign of insanity? I know YOU are not insane in that respect; I’m only trying to gauge what does count as “insanity” in your view.

    –TP

  5. No need for fear. The 2010 Texas Republican party platform on which Perry ran is at http://tcgop.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/2010_RPT_PLATFORM.pdf and on page 7 says :

    “Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.”

    Michelle Bachmann was falling over herself trying to walk back her homophobic rhetoric yesterday, knowing that even her husband’s “treatment” for turning gays straight does now fly well with independent voters. Any guesses about how well the general electorate will embrace non-reviewable anti-sodomy laws, or laws that will make it a felony to issue a same-sex marriage certificate or for any civil official to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony? Independent voters just eat that stuff up, don’t they?

    If I were Perry, I would walk that sodomy plank in the platform back thus:

    Oh, when I said “sodomy,” I was talking about Ezekiel 16:49, where sodomy is defined: “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” I want to make it a crime for the rich to withhold aid from the poor and needy!

  6. No, he disagrees with them because he has a different political ideology from them. Which ideology happens to not be writ in the stars, so much as it is just his personal opinion about matters.

    Look, simply repeating things somebody says, (Or more accurately, paraphrasing them, as Yglesais is rather sparing with Perry’s own words…) does nothing to demonstrate their insanity to anybody who doesn’t already agree with you. It’s the lazy intellectual’s resort when he fears to actually debate something, because actual debate carries the risk of losing.

    Let’s hear what exactly is insane about what Perry says. I’m open to the possibility that some of it is nuts, he’s crazy enough to want to run for President But outraging Mark doesn’t even begin to constitute evidence of insanity.

  7. Also for Brett: is Mark too hasty to judge Christian Reconstructionism as crazy just because it asserts that a 21st century advanced technological civilization should be completely governed by a bunch of tribal codes which were written down in the Bronze Age?

  8. Ed, whoever the Democratic party comes up with as a nominee, it is pretty much guaranteed to be somebody who at least claims to take religion seriously. Alas… Probably somebody who’s lying about that, but I don’t see that as much of an improvement.

    In the mean while, the statements Yglesais paraphrased seem to have precious little to do with religion, and as historical assertions are not even terribly controversial. Just uncongenial to liberals.

  9. Well, I want a president who takes religion seriously. Frank Schaffer is a man who takes religion seriously. He is the son of Francis Schaffer, who was one of the intellectual founders of today’s religious right. Frank was in at the beginning of the same religious conservative political movement, but has since repudiated most of what it stands for. His recent essay is at http://www.alternet.org/story/151960/michele_bachmann_was_inspired_by_my_dad_and_his_christian_reconstructionist_friends_–_here%27s_why_that%27s_terrifying/

    His father, according to Frank’s book on his experiences with his family and with the founders of the Moral Majority, was not hostile to gays, but was extremely hostile to legalized abortion. The younger Schaffer is alarmed at the power of the religious right, but he is a man who knows some history. Part of his essay bears quoting directly:

    The Puritans’ theology of government was formed in the context of an embrace of all Christians’ duty to demand the “public good.” This was exemplified by such unquestioned well-established concepts as the “king’s highway,” a common road system protected by the crown (government) and a common law that applied to all. One’s common duty to others was accepted as the essential message of Christian civilization. Public spaces were defended by government in the early New England settlements, just as they had been in England.
    … one great contribution of Christianity was a commitment to strong central government. For instance, this included church support for state-funded, or state-church-funded, charities, including hospitals, as early as the fourth century.
    Government was seen as part of God’s plan for creating social justice and defending the common good. Christians were once culture-forming and culture-embracing people. Even the humanism preached by the supposedly “anti-Christian” Enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century was, in fact, a Deist/Christian “heresy,” with a value system espousing human dignity borrowed wholesale from the Sermon on the Mount.

  10. Ed — even before W. was POTUS, the Texas GOP platform had crazy stuff about abolishing the Federal Reserve, taking back the Panama Canal, expelling the U.N., etc. Pretty sure no one in the press ever asked him about it, so I doubt Perry will have to express any opinions about the document either.

  11. BTW, I’m having trouble figuring out what’s even supposed to be problematic about some of these. For instance, isn’t the fact that the Fugitive slave laws and efforts to extend slavery to the western territories contributed to tensions leading to the Civil war plain vanilla history? Why would even liberals have a beef about that?

  12. Brett, some of us are glad that the Confederacy lost the Civil War. When Rick Perry explicitly says he feels the same way, we will acknowledge that he “loves” the United States of America, and engage him on substantive questions like whether popular election of Senators is a good idea.

    –TP

  13. Brett, Matt’s point on this particular topic didn’t have anything to do with ideology. It had to do with Perry making up history, just as he made up the claim that Texas retained the right to secede when it joined the Union. (But I suppose according to your post-modern rules that’s merely a difference of opinion, and I’m not allowed to say that Perry was wrong about that simply because his assertion was contrary to easily ascertainable fact.)

    Perry’s claim, which Yglesias criticizes, is that the Civil War resulted from an incursion by the South on states’ rights in the North. That claim is flat-out silly. The territorial dispute didn’t have a “states’ rights” solution, since there were no states there to have rights, and Douglas’s “popular sovereignty” helped create the mini-Civil War that was “bleeding Kansas.” The Fugitive Slave Act, as disgusting as it was, merely enforced a clear provision of the Constitution. And of course Perry never bothers to explain how respecting “states’ rights” could have ended slavery, because of course it couldn’t.

    Lincoln was right; the nation could not endure half-slave and half-free. But to Perry, “states’ rights” is the answer to every question.

  14. Sometimes it seems that for Perry and for the Tea Party, the Constitution of the United States consists of the original articles and the first twelve amendments. After the Civil War, the next seven amendments in one way or another expanded the powers of the national government and/or curtailed the powers of state legislatures. Now, national Prohibition (temperance having been a Yankee passion) did not work out so well and was repealed, but the Bill of Rights was not generally applied to states until the 14th Amendment began incorporating it.

    Wars have consequences. Rebellion against the United States led to the strengthening of the central government. Rick Perry may not get this. Perhaps he can be goaded into referring to the “War of Northern Aggression” and sweep the Neo-Confederate vote. The Myth of the Lost Cause will never die. But let it never acquire any political power in this country.

  15. Again, you want to claim he’s making up history, you’re going to have to demonstrate it by argument, isolated paraphrases of things he says doesn’t cut it. You might start with actual quotes, so that we can discuss what he’s actually said, rather than words you put in his mouth.

  16. BTW, I’m having trouble figuring out what’s even supposed to be problematic about some of these. For instance, isn’t the fact that the Fugitive slave laws and efforts to extend slavery to the western territories contributed to tensions leading to the Civil war plain vanilla history? Why would even liberals have a beef about that?

    I’ve just read the relevant passage from Rick Perry’s book “Fed Up”. It’s the first three paragraphs of the section on Slavery, Civil Rights, and Federalism. If you want to read it for yourself, go to books.google.com, search for Perry’s book, then search within it for the word “fugitive”.

    The problem here is that Perry only discusses the aspects of Civil War era history that support his pro-States-Rights position, while ignoring the vastly larger issues that contradict it. By cherry-picking these examples (Fugitive Slave Act, personal liberty laws, etc.) Perry creates an imaginary antebellum US that no historian would recognize.

    The primary States’ Rights issue was slavery itself, not the Fugitive Slave law. The antebellum “States’ Rights” position was thoroughly and indelibly associated with preservation of slavery. The military victory by the North, the passage of the 13th-15th amendments, and Reconstruction, were all cases where national power was exerted at the expense of States’ Rights.

    Perry could have dealt with this honestly. For example, he could have said “In 1860, the cause of individual liberty was best served by shifting power away from the slaveholding states that had failed to protect these liberties, and towards a central government that would better protect them. But today, the balance has shifted too far in the opposite direction, and impositions on individual liberties are now far more likely to come from Washington DC than from state capitals.” I might or might not agree with the latter half of that, but at least it would be honest in its representation of Civil War history.

    But that’s not what Perry does. By carefully omitting everything that doesn’t favor his position, Perry misleads the reader about which side of the Civil War conflict the vast majority of the states’-rights positions were aligned with. Since the conflict between national and state powers was absolutely central to the Civil War and its aftermath, this is a truly egregious misinterpretation by Perry.

    All that said, I wouldn’t cite this as an example of Perry being “crazy”, just “dishonest”.

  17. Some of Perry’s prayer day cohorts( they really are crazy and so is anyone who allies themselves with any one of these churches, this is less that half the ones on the Response website):

    Generals Int- “We’re an international movement to reform the nations of the world through ministering in the prophetic and apostolic.We are achieving societal transformation through intercession and the prophetic.” We’re an international movement to reform the nations of the world through ministering in the prophetic and apostolic. http://www.generals.org/about/about-us/

    The Family Research Council …”FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family. Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.” http://www.frc.org/mission-statement

    Wallbuilders …” WallBuilders’ goal is to exert a direct and positive influence in government, education, and the family by (1) educating the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country; (2) providing information to federal, state, and local officials as they develop public policies which reflect Biblical values; and (3) encouraging Christians to be involved in the civic arena.” http://www.wallbuilders.com/ABTOverview.asp

    Texas Apostolic Prayer Network-… “Welcome to the Texas Apostolic Prayer Network. TXAPN desires to see the redemptive gifts and anointings of the State of Texas flow freely. We desire the people, the history, the culture, and the destiny of the State of Texas to be transformed as the Lord is enthroned in our midst. TXAPN is a statewide and regionwide network of intercessors committed to this call!” Dr. Thomas Schlueter http://www.txapn.org/

    Billion Soul- “Therefore, in the light of this our faith and our resolve, we enter into a solemn covenant with God and with each other to pray, to plan and to work together for the evangelization of the whole world. We call upon others to join us. May God help us by his grace and for his glory to be faithful to this our covenant! Amen, Alleluia!” http://www.billion.tv/index.php?page=doctrinal-statement

    Aglow, Int- …”We believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues as the Spirit of God gives utterance, that all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are valid and operative today, and that the fruit of the Holy Spirit should be increasingly evident in a Christian’s life.” http://www.aglow.org/about.aspx?id=138&ekmensel=c580fa7b_70_78_btnlink

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