The History of Dominionism

       In the 15th century, Papal Bulls were issued that gave Christian explorers the right to claim, for their Christian monarchs, the land that they had discovered. Any land that was not already inhabited by Christians was decreed to be available for discovery, for claiming, and for exploitation. If any so-called ‘pagan’ inhabitants could be converted, it was possible for them to be spared from enslavement or from being killed.

These Papal Bulls, which collectively came to be known as the Discovery Doctrine or the Doctrine of Discovery, is also a concept of public international law, one that was first extensively addressed in a series of United States Supreme Court decisions, going back to Johnson v. M’Intosh in 1823. It was the means for Chief Justice John Marshall to explain the way that colonial powers first laid claim to newly discovered lands during the Age of Discovery and Exploration. Under the Doctrine of Discovery, titles to newly discovered lands were issued by the government whose subjects discovered the new territory. While Chief Justice Marshall is credited with describing the doctrine, he did not support it as a means for justifying judicial decisions, or for invalidating or disregarding aboriginal possession of land in favor of colonial or post-colonial governments. The alleged inferiority of native cultures was a known reason for the use of this doctrine, which still governs Indian Law in the United States to this day. It was cited as recently as 2005, in a case that involved the city of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation in the state of New York.

Post-Millennial Dominionism

       In a January 17 article written by Peter Montgomery for Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way, it is noted that the religious right eventually rallied around Donald Trump’s candidacy for President of the United States in 2016. This support was described as being “heavy with the self-proclaimed apostles and prophets from the dominionist Pentecostal wing of American Christianity who declared Trump anointed by God.”

As Trump prepared for taking office, many of these dominionists came to Washington, D.C. to launch what they are calling “a movement designed in part to “discern, declare, and decree the strategies of the Lord for our nation, with a special sensitivity to the three branches of the United States government.”

Individuals involved in this movement, known as POTUS Shield include Cindy Jacobs, Lance Wallnau, Lou Engle, Rick Joyner, Harry Jackson, Jerry Boykin (a favorite figure of the alt-right who is a good source for insane conspiracy theories), E.W. Jackson (who preached that God will punish American for embracing marriage equality), Jennifer LeClaire, Mark Gonzalez, and Alveda King.

Jennifer LeClaire, a senior editor of Charisma magazine, told the Christian Broadcasting Network that the red we all saw on the electoral map after election night was “parabolic of the blood of Jesus”. Even more alarming, she claimed that God told her that He was “releasing the angels of transition…to help transition the government into what we’ve all been praying for,” namely, Trump, who has “surrounded himself with Godly counsel.”

The stated inaugural principals of POTUS Shield are the following:

  1. To assemble, structure and activate The POTUS Shield as a powerfully interactive spiritual, apostolic, prophetic force that acts and reacts in unity, with efficiency and expedience;
  2. To be a leadership forum that is inclusive and embraces the Bible believing Body of Christ, with a Kingdom heart to embrace the Body of Christ as One, even as prayed by our Lord as written in the Gospel of John, Chapter 17;
  3. To connect as an apostolic network exclusively assigned to the affirmation and reformation of The United States of America as ONE nation under GOD;
  4. To discern, declare, and decree the strategies of the Lord for our nation, with a special sensitivity to the three branches of the United States Government;
  5. To prepare the way and coordinate the simultaneous spiritual alignment of the Kingdom shift that is manifesting and impacting the government and the Church;
  6. To lay the foundation to convene in Philadelphia in March during Purim to declare a renewed covenant as the renewed United States of America, as one nation under God, and to commission and plan similar covenants in each of the 50 states in the Union.

Ted Cruz, a Republican opponent of Trump’s during the 2016 presidential campaign, was raised by a Cuban refugee father that happened to be an evangelical pastor subscribing to the ideology of dominionism. This theocratic idea grew out of American evangelicalism, and it animated the Christian right. Its fundamental tenet is that God has called conservative Christians to exercise dominion over society by taking control of political and cultural institutions.

Analysts observe that, while there is a spectrum running from soft to hard among dominionists, it is agreed that they all celebrate Christian nationalism. That is, they believe that the United States once was, and should once again, be a Christian nation. Because of this belief, they deny the Enlightenment roots of American democracy. Dominionists also promote religious supremacy. They generally do not respect the equality of other religions, let alone other versions of Christianity. Dominionists endorse theocratic visions. They believe that the Ten Commandments, or biblical law, should be the foundation of American laws, and that the U.S. Constitution should be seen as a vehicle for implementing biblical principles, not the rule of our land.

During the holiday season, after Donald Trump was declared the winner of the election, many citizens of the United States objected when Reince Preibus referred to the “rise of a new king” in a tweet, believing it to be a reference of Trump, and an attempt to give him a title that is prohibited by the Constitution. While LeClaire, a member of POTUS Shield, has had visions of Trump as our anointed leader, evangelical historian, John Fea points to a sermon at the New Beginnings church in Bedford, Texas in 2012 as the beginning of a rise in the political career of Ted Cruz, with the blessing of dominionists. During Cruz’s Senate campaign, his father, Rafael described his son as the “fulfillment of biblical prophecy”, and he declared that “God would anoint Christian kings to preside over an end time transfer of wealth from the wicked to the righteous” in order 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, according to LeClaire, 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. Jesus won’t return until these Christian nations are in place.

According to Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way, followers of one particular strain of evangelical theology, known as Seven Mountains dominionism,  believe that in order for the Christian nations to become a reality, they are to take control over seven leading aspects of culture. These are family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government. Notable dominionists include the likes Sara Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich.

Branches of Dominionism

            There are two schools of thought within dominionism—Christian Reconstructionists or 7M. Christian Reconstructionism was founded by late theologian R.J. Rushdoony. He promoted the idea that Christians weren’t only to be dominating society, they were also supposed to be instituting and enforcing Old Testament biblical law. This branch of dominionism is credited with providing a biblical rationale for the political actions of the Christian right and for supporting not only a theory of government, but one for public policy development, as well. Rushdoony’s legacy is the modern homeschooling movement, which Department of Education Secretary nominee, Betsy Devos has publicly supported. It is through this appointment that both schools of dominion wish to assert their influence, by taking control of the seven leading aspects of our American culture, and by dominating American society, through the institution and enforcement of Old Testament, or biblical, law.

The “mainstream” of the other branch of dominionism is Latter Rain. This branch began as a Pentecostal movement in the 1940s known as the New Apostolic Reformation. The Latter Rain movement taught its followers that “there would be an outpouring of supernatural powers in a coming generation,” that would allow them “to subdue or take dominion over nations.”

The Latter Rain movement promised that this outpouring of supernatural powers would happen along with the restoration of the neglected offices in the contemporary church of apostles and prophets, whose teachings about the supernatural authority of the apostles are credited with providing key theological and structural elements of contemporary dominionism. It is interesting to note that the teachings of this branch were once rejected by Pentecostal denominations for being deviant, only to be embraced by them later.

In 1980, Christian Reconstructionist, Rushdoony wrote Institutes of Biblical Law, a work which offered dominionists a vision, of a foundation for a future society that was biblically based, where dominion men advanced the dominion mandate that is described in Genesis. In this book, a biblically-based Christian society would include a legal code that is based on the Ten Commandments and the laws of Old Testament Israel. Its laws would include a long list of capital offenses that would largely be religious or sexual in nature. This biblical kingdom that Rushdoony envisioned could only emerge from the gradual conversion of people who would embrace what they consider to be the whole word of God, and it was acknowledged that this accomplishment could take as many as hundreds or even tens of thousands of years to be realized.

Evangelical theology ultimately split between the premillennial dispensationalist camp– which believes that true Christians would be raptured into the clouds in the End Times when Jesus would return to defeat the forces of Satan– and Christian Reconstructions. Reconstructionists believed that Jesus could not return until the world was perfectly Christian and the faithful had ruled it this way for 1,000 years. Premillennialists are not interested in politics. Postmillennialists have a need for politics, to help them build these perfect Christian nations that are founded on biblical principles and laws.

One leading theologian, Francis Schaeffer advocated massive resistance to ‘anti-Christian society’, but not to the contemporary application of Old Testament laws. Instead, he insisted on the need for a “militant Christian resistance to tyranny”, a call that was echoed all-too-eerily recently in an audio clip of Trump senior advisor, Stephen K. Bannon, the same Bannon that Trump attempted to place on the national Security Council after a call to Vladimir Putin, bypassing Senate approval and displacing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the process.

Reconstructionist Dominionists, the CNP, the Muslim Ban, and Betsy Devos

Many have been questioning the recent moves of Trump to enforce executive orders regarding immigration and entry into the United States because of their religious nature, after federal courts granted stays. Indeed, lawsuits have been filed. While most Americans treasure their rights to religious freedom, dominionist strategists often like to refer to religious freedoms as a weakness of our constitutional democracy, one that can be exploited to advance their agendas. For example, Christian Reconstructionist theorist Gary North believes that the Constitution’s ban against religious tests for public officials that is included in Article 6 is a legal barrier to an eventual Christian theocracy, but he dreams of a day when biblically correct Christians will gain enough political power to be able to amend the Constitution by limiting access to their franchise and civil offices, the way Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has shut off his fax machines and refused acceptance of petitions related to plans for de-funding Planned Parenthood by placing guards at the door to his office. Trinitarian churches are also a factor. Most dominionist theorists view Jefferson’s conception of religious equality under the law as something that is inherently tyrannical. Rushdoony, the Reconstructionist who was affiliated with CNP for many years, argued that religious liberty is attacked when the states are secularized in the name of freedom, and when every prerogative of the church is attacked in an indirect manner. This is where the secretive organization, known as the Council of National Policy, and its connection to the Trump administration, and most importantly, the pending approval of Department of Education nominee, Betsy Devos, becomes relevant.

Last August, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that Kellyanne Conway and Trump’s (then) presidential campaign manager, who is now his senior advisor, and who also happened to be the executive chairman and founding board member of alt-right platform, Breitbart News, have been members of the Council of National Policy. It is not known at this time the duration of their respective memberships or what the current status is of them, but after perusing the conditions and rules of memberships of what the New York Times once called “a little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservative it the country”; it is unlikely that very many people would terminate their membership into this elite organization willingly.

This group is so secretive, it tells its members to not admit that they are a member, let alone speak the name of the group. Revealing when or where the group meets, and what it discusses, is also forbidden. The only way one can join is by invitation and with a generous donation. The SPLC, which publishes Hatewatch obtained a copy of the CNP’s 2014 membership directory, something it calls a’ closely held document’. That’s because it shows that Kellyanne Conway was a member of the CNP’s executive committee that year, and that Bannon was a regular member. This means there is a clear connection between individuals who are very likely influenced by Reconstructionist principles and dominionist policies, and who also have direct access to, and influence on, Donald Trump.

At the end of this article, screenshots and a PDF of a document related to the CNP’s Phase I and Phase II plans for the future of the Department of Education, contingent on the confidently named ‘designee’, Betsy Devos are available for examination and dissemination. This document outlines the general strategy that the Trump administration has been implementing since inauguration day.

The writer of this piece does not take lightly the gravity of what is being revealed. A secret, non-profit organization, that has been affiliated with dominionists, specifically, Reconstructionist dominionists, has direct access to the presidential office, and may very well be influencing his policies, decisions, and orders. After enough individuals have read this article, have examined the documents attached, and have listed to a near hour long SoundCloud recording of a meeting in which a post-election analysis is provided by the guest speakers, in addition to a description of what is said to be an outline of what will happen in Trump’s first 100 days, questions will be answered and raised, regarding the manner in which Trump has begun his administration. The PDF of the CNP was made available in a Southern Poverty Law Center article online, from August of 2016. Both the PDF describing the CNP’s plans moving forward, with allusions to their confidence in Trump’s following their suggestions, which were contingent on the approval of Betsy Devos, his nomination for the Department of Education, were both obtained by the writer, by using the CNP’s own user interface. Specifically, the content the CNP posted that was related to its November of 2016 meeting was easily made available to the public at large, yet it has remained right under our noses, until now.

            Getting to Know the Council for National Policy

           Before concluding this article, in order for the reader to gain a greater appreciation for the sort of people this organization recruits and attracts, a few descriptions of what the SLPC calls “real extremists” who can be found in the directory are provided below, in no particular order:

  • Michael Peroutka– A neo-Confederate who was on the board of the white supremacist group, League of the South for a number of years.
  • Jerome Corsi– The propagandist who was responsible for the Swift boat conspiracy of John Kerry’s is also a fervent Obama “birther”. Corsi once described Martin Luther King, Jr. as a ‘shakedown artist’. In his latest book, he claims that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun fled to Argentina after World War to live out their lives happily ever after.
  • Joseph Farah- Farah runs the conspiracist “news operation”, the WorldNetDaily. He also employs Corsi. It was Farah who accused President Obama of trying to help the United Nations create a one-world government. WorldNetDaily also ran a six-part series on the hidden dangers behind the consumption of soybeans—they were responsible for causing homosexuality.
  • Mat Staver- This Liberty Counsel leader has worked to re-criminalize homosexual sex. He described the Boy Scouts as a “playground for pedophiles” and likened LGBT activists to terrorists.
  • Alan Sears- Founder of the Alliance Defending Freedom and co-author of The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today, in which pedophilia is falsely linked to homosexuality.
  • Philip Zodhaites- a gay activist who was charged with conspiracy and international kidnapping after he helped a self-described ‘former lesbian’, who had kidnapped her daughter from her former partner before fleeing the country. He faces up to five years in prison. Although CNP’s mission is to strengthen Judeo-Christian values, his direct mail company, Response Unlimited, sold lists of subscribers to America’s leading anti-Semitic tabloid, The Spotlight, and its successor, American Free Press, neither of which is now listed at the Response website.
  • Madeleine Cosman- During a 2005 nativists conference, she states that most Latino immigrant men molest girls under 12, although some specialize in boys, and some in nuns. Most likely, she could be the source of Trump’s statements regarding Mexicans when first announcing his run for President, and his continuing fixation with securing our borders with Mexico, by building a wall no one wants to pay for. Cosman is also the source of a false claim made on-air by then-CNN anchor, Lou Dobbs, that immigrants were responsible for bringing leprosy to the United States.
  • Howard Phillips- Founder of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, he wishes to implement biblical law in the United States. He is also known for his opposition to the Voting Rights Act, homosexuality, pornography, immigrants, and abortion.
  • Haley- He wanted to use the Texas Rangers to enforce school segregation after the Supreme Court outlawed it.
  • Clarence Arch Decker- A one-time Colorado state senator whose Summit Ministries once published a book that suggested the possibility of having to intern homosexuals.
  • Paul S. Teller-Ted Cruz’s chief of staff. He is described by The Hill as being his “agitator in chief”.
  • Tony Perkins- Head of LGBT-bashing Family Research Council (along with vice-president and three executive officers, including CNP Executive and former Attorney General of Ohio, Kenneth Backwell). He falsely claimed that pedophilia “is a homosexual problem” and that homosexuals “recruit” children. Most significantly, he secretly purchased a mailing list for a candidate he was managing from former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke, and in 2001, he addressed the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, which inspired Dylan Roof to kill nine churchgoers last year.
  • Michael Peroutka-On the CNP’s board of governors, and for many years on the board of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group that still wants the South to secede from the United States and be ruled by white people. This 2004 Constitution Party presidential candidate is opposed to abortion in all cases and makes regular appearances on white nationalist radio shows.
  • Chad Connelly- The two-term head of the South Carolina Republican Party (until 2013), who is currently the national director of faith engagement on the Republican National Committee.
  • Nelson Bunker Hunt- A one-time member of John Birch Society’s ruling council, this billionaire went broke trying to corner the silver market.
  • Cullen Davis- A multimillionaire from Texas who was tried and acquitted in two separate murder cases.
  • William Cies- Wealthy John Birch Society member and major CNP funder.
  • Paul Weyrich- Co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
  • Frank Gaffney– He provided Trump with what are described by the SLPC as “bogus statistics about American Muslims”. He was also a senior advisor to Cruz until last May.
  • Michael Centanni–The COO of a direct mail company that raised money for conservative candidates, he pled guilty to possession of child pornography, with more than 3,000 images and 267 videos being used as evidence against him, in October of 2014. He was sentenced to 46 months for his crimes.
  • Tim Wildmon–Leader of the American Family Association, an intense anti-LGBT group. One of the organization’s officials once complained that “welfare rewards black people who rut like rabbits” and proclaimed falsely that “homosexuality gave us the Brown Shirts” (a reference to fascism) and “the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” Besides denouncing homosexuality, Wildmon described “Islam as a religion of war, violence, intolerance, and physical persecution.”
  • Tim LaHaye–one of CNP’s five founding members, this co-author of the novels in the apocalyptic Christianity’s Left Behind series, described homosexuals as being vile and said that he thought the Illuminati were conspiring to establish a New World Order. He also attacked Catholicism.
  • Richard DeVos- The co-founder of Amway whose net worth was estimated at $5 billion in 2012.
  • Foster Friess- Stock picker who was recognized in 2011 for contributions exceeding $1 million to right-wing funders the Koch brothers. Friess is known for throwing himself a birthday party that cost him nearly $8 million, and for saying on television that women used to avoid pregnancy by putting a Bayer aspirin between their knees.

In this directory, in addition to names, affiliations with various institutions and a wide range of issues that are of interest to each member of the CNP are included. Fourteen conservative media outlets, major donors to conservative causes, officials from conservative universities and colleges, business leaders, many from the private sector and industry, and the William F. Buckley Council, a list of young conservative members are all inside. The William F. Buckley Council members include Daniel Suhr, chief of staff to Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch; Nicholas L. Wenker, law clerk for Senate Judiciary Committee; Garrett Gibson, Texas Supreme Court clerk; William J. Rivers, press assistant to Republican Senator of Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey, and Josh Duggar- who was caught up in a scandal in 2015 when he was accused of molesting five girls, four which were his sisters; his membership in the hookup dating site, Ashley Madison, was also revealed.

The SPLC noted last May, when it first published the 2014 directory, that the CNP “provides an important venue in which relatively mainstream conservatives meet and very possibly are influenced by real extremists, people who regularly defame LGBT people with utter falsehoods, describe Latino immigrants as a dangerous group of rapists and disease-carriers, engage in the kind of wild-eyed conspiracy theorizing for which the John Birch Society is famous, and even suggests that certain people should be stoned to death in line with Old Testament law.”

CNP member and White House staff member, Steve Bannnon’s Breitbart News has been credited by the likes of well-known white supremacist, Richard Spencer, for being the alt-right platform. Under his leadership, it has manufactured headlines such as There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews, Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy, Lesbian Bridezillas Bully Bridal Shop Owner Over Religious Beliefs, and so many more, just as equally outlandish. Last fall, The National Review, reported that Donald Trump was by far the favorite candidate of the CNP, when there were still five other candidates running.

While the names of many members and officers of this secret group have been leaked since its establishment in 1981, some of its officers are reported on the organization’s tax forms. The last time a list such as the one the SLPC released in August of the 2014 directory, was in 1988.

In the 191-page 2014 CNP Membership Directory, 413 members, 118 deceased, and 14 past presidents were listed.  In its vision statement, reproduced at the front of the directory, the CNP describes itself as “a united conservative movement to assure, by 2020, policy leadership and governance that restores religious and economic freedom, a strong national defense, and Judeo-Christian values under the Constitution.”

The Reconstructionist theologian described in this article, John Rousas Rushdoony, is listed in the In Memoriam section. He pushed for a society that was ruled by Old Testament law, which called for the stoning of adulteresses, idolaters, and incorrigible children.

Members and executive officers of the CNP are business titans, Christian college presidents, owners and editors of right-wing media outlets, GOP mega-donors, government staffers, leading members of conservative think tanks and lobby groups, such as the Hermitage, the National Rifle Association, Citizens United, the Federalist Society, politicians, political appointees and evangelical ministers.

According to the latest available tax forms for the CNP, it has a budget of between $1.5 and $ million. In 1992, eleven years after it was founded as a tax-exempt organization, the IRS revoked this status on the grounds that the CNP was not being run for the benefit of the public. Eventually, the CNP was able to restore their status by promising that it would produce a quarterly journal meant to educate the public. It would be years before they would actually fulfill this obligation when it launched a website that distributes Policy Counsel and Heard Around the Hill.

As for this group’s secrecy, members are told not to discuss the group, reveal the topics discussed in the closed-door meetings, or even say whether or not they are members of the organization. The Salt Lake City Tribune reported that the membership list is strictly confidential, guests may attend only with the unanimous approval of the executive committee, and according to The New York Times, another rule is that “the media should not know when or where [they] meet or who takes part in [its] programs, before or after a meeting.”

The CNP has a legal right to hold its meetings in private and to try to keep its membership secret. Surprisingly, it does publish many of the speeches its members hear, including most of the talks given by all but Trump’s presidential campaign speeches in 2016. Speakers in recent years have included President George W. Bush, Vice-President, Dick Cheney; and Clarence Thomas, one of the most conservative of the Supreme Court justices. Speakers at the Council for National Policy’s candidate forum last October included Trump, Ben Cason, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum.

In order to allow “open, uninhibited remarks” from its speakers, CNP members must adhere to strict rules regarding their thrice-yearly meetings. A memorandum from former executive director and 2014 Executive Committee member Morton C. Blackwell lists the rules. They include the following:

  • Special guests may attend only with advance unanimous approval of the Executive Committee.
  • The solicitation of funds on a one-to-one basis is prohibited at meetings.
  • Council meetings are closed to the media and the general public. The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting.
  • Speakers’ remarks at Council meetings are off the record and not for circulation later, except with special permission.
  • Members and guests are requested to keep in their personal possession their registration packets and other materials distributed at the meeting.
  • Our membership list is strictly confidential and should not be shared outside the Council.
  • Fundraising from the list is also prohibited.
  • Members are asked to avoid organizing and attending formal meetings of other groups or organizations in the same city before, during or immediately after a Council meeting.







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Author: valeriehowlandblog

Freelance writer, political commentator.


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