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Friday, 08 April 2016 06:58

Dominionism, Christian Nationalism and Ted Cruz

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Horseman 0408wrp opt(Photo: Gustave Doré)While Donald Trump’s theological underpinnings are as madcap and unstable as the man himself, Ted Cruz believes that not only is America God’s chosen country, but that he has been chosen to guide the country back to its Christian moorings. Ted Cruz is a seven-mountain guy and those mountains have nothing to do with Everest, Kilimanjaro, Whitney or any of the world’s renowned peaks. Cruz’s seven mountains have to do with reclaiming, rebuilding, and reestablishing America as a Christian country, which means Christians taking dominion over seven aspects of culture: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business and government.

The movement is called Seven Mountains Dominionism and its origin 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.”

And, if you thought the culture wars was a relic of the past, Ted Cruz will fight all of the already-settled culture war battles all over again … and then some. As John Fea recently pointed out in Christianity Today, “Unlike any other candidate in the 2016 presidential race, Cruz has mastered the rhetoric first introduced by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others on the Religious Right.”

Much of Ted Cruz’s early religious development came from his father Rafael, who came to evangelicalism late in life but has been pounding that platform ever since. It is Rafael who once told a Christian group that he believed his son’s campaign is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

John Fea, who teaches American history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and is the author, most recently, of The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society, reported in a CT piece titled “The Theology of Ted Cruz,” “Cruz’s Christian worldview is on display in virtually every speech he delivers. His campaign is perhaps best described as a reclamation project. He wants to ‘restore,’ ‘return to,’ or ‘reclaim’ the ‘Judeo-Christian values’ that he believes are ‘the foundation of this nation.’”

Christian Nationalist David Barton is one of Cruz’s trusted advisors

Fea maintains that Cruz’s campaign rests on the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation; therefore “restore,” “return to,” and “reclaim” has become Cruz’s special mission. Like his father Rafael, and many culture warriors of the Religious Right, Cruz believes that Christians need to reclaim the various aspects of culture—the media, the entertainment industry, education, government—and take dominion over them.

And that’s where David Barton comes in.

David Barton is a longtime GOP activist, the go-to guy for the Christian Right’s Christian Nation theorizing and the founder and president of WallBuilders, an Aledo, Texas-based Christian ministry. Barton is one of Cruz’s “most trusted advisors,” according to a previous CT piece by Fea, and he runs “Keep the Promise,” a multimillion-dollar Cruz super-PAC.

Barton’s “work on the history of the American founding has been discredited by historians, many of whom are his fellow evangelicals,” Fea wrote in a February piece for Religion News Service that was picked up by the Washington Post titled “Ted Cruz’s campaign is fueled by a dominionist vision for America.” “This does not seem to stop him. His 2012 book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson, was roundly condemned for its historical inaccuracies and its attempt to turn the third president of the United States into a member of the 20th-century Christian right.”

Despite having his work discredited numerous times and having Thomas Nelson, the publisher of the Jefferson book, pull it from print, Barton is still considered a Christian Nationalist rock star, as evidenced by the fact that the book was republished by the right-wing website World Net Daily.

Fea points out that “Barton’s work is an important part of Cruz’s larger theological and political campaign to take back America. If Barton can prove that the United States was once a Christian republic, then Cruz will have the historical argument he needs to sustain his narrative of American decline.”

According to Fea, Cruz’s political positions, defunding Planned Parenthood, opposition to same-sex marriage, the so-called persecution of Christians, the quest for “religious liberty,” complaints against the liberal media, all stem from Seven Mountains Dominionism, “the spiritual fuel that motors Cruz’s campaign for president,” according to Fea. “He is not interested in crafting new models of American pluralism to respond to the country’s ever-growing religious diversity. Rather, religious liberty is a code word for defending the right of Christians to continue to hold cultural authority and privilege.”

As Fea pointed out, Cruz is a smart man and a savvy politician. You will never hear the words “dominionism” or “seven mountains” on the campaign trail. “But it is also worth noting that he has never publicly rejected these beliefs,” wrote Fea.

In short, “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.”