Michelle Goldberg is a senior writer for Salon.com; she has reported from all over the United States and the Middle East, and has been an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at New York University, teaching a class called â€œWriting Social Commentary.â€ Now her first book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism , details her observations on how the growing influence of dominionismâ€”the doctrine that Christians have the right to rule nonbelieversâ€”is threatening the foundations of democracy. Here is an excerpt from the book’s web site:
“The mass movement Iâ€™ve described aims to supplant Enlightenment rationalism with what it calls the ‘Christian worldview.’ The phrase is based on the conviction that true Christianity must govern every aspect of public and private life, and that allâ€”government, science, history and cultureâ€”must be understood according to the dictates of scripture. There are biblically correct positions on every issue, from gay marriage to income tax rates, and only those with the right worldview can discern them. This is Christianity as a total ideologyâ€”I call it Christian nationalism. Itâ€™s an ideology adhered to by millions of Americans, some of whom are very powerful. Itâ€™s what drives a great many of the fights over religion, science, sex and pluralism now dividing communities all over the country.
“I am not suggesting that religious tyranny is imminent in the United States. Our democracy is eroding and some of our rights are disappearing, but for most people, including those most opposed to the Christian nationalist agenda, life will most likely go on pretty much as normal for the foreseeable future. Thus for those who value secular society, apprehending the threat of Christian nationalism is tricky. Itâ€™s like being a lobster in a pot, with the water heating up so slowly that you donâ€™t notice the moment at which it starts to kill you.”
Long-time readers of HEM will be familiar with our 1991 series titled “Homeschooling Freedoms at Risk”, in which we and many others expressed grave concerns about what was happening within the homeschool movement: “For the past three years hundreds of letters, conversations, phone calls, and other communications have been telling the same stories, asking the same questions, communicating feelings of confusion and bewilderment, and alerting us to an increasingly serious problem within the homeschool community. We have repeatedly attempted to address the underlying issues, and to alert people to problematic actions and directions. Now it has become obvious to us that people need to hear, clearly and unambiguously, what we and many others perceive as a serious threat to the homeschooling community. That threat is the undermining of individual responsibility, with an increasing push toward a reliance on experts and professionals, and an ever-tightening monopoly on the tools and resources that homeschooling families need.”
The article we published in 1991 noted, “The formation of this exclusive hierarchy brings the complex underlying issues of religious intolerance and domination into the homeschool community. Our founding fathers grappled with this issue, and the world faces this same problem today in country after country. There can be no freedom of any sort when one group dominates another.”
We quoted from a widely published article by then-HSLDA president Michael Farris: “Why should it rattle anyone’s cage for the majority of homeschoolers to define the position of the movement? I would hope that non-Christian homeschoolers would endorse the rights of Christian homeschoolers — including the right to vote our convictions and the right to majority rule.”
The right to majority rule. The conviction that true Christianity must govern every aspect of public and private life. Biblically correct positions on every issue. The complex underlying issues of religious intolerance and domination.
In 1991 we wrote, “To maintain our freedoms, each and every one of us has to be able to define our own positions, assume our own responsibilities, and make our own decisions based on our personal beliefs. We can accept no less.” We also wrote, “The best opportunity we have to defend our freedoms is to assume the responsibility of maintaining them ourselves, by staying informed and taking action, and not relying on experts and professionals, whatever their professed accomplishments, to assume the responsibility for us.”
In 1991 we were writing about developments we saw within the homeschooling community. Fifteen years later Michelle Goldberg is writing about developments she sees on an alarmingly larger scale.