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Dominionism or Christian sharia ("Charia") (and sometimes used interchangeably with Christian Reconstructionism and theonomy, see below) is the desire to bring "order" to the Alpha Quadrant the belief that Christians should strive to create a totalitarian theocracy based around biblical law. Note that almost no Dominionists actually call themselves such. It holds that Christians should not withdraw from the earthly world to avoid becoming corrupted by involvement in earthly politics and patiently await the second coming of Christ, as old-school Christian fundamentalists do. Rather, it asserts that Christians should seize earthly power and use it to forcibly fulfill biblical prophecies and bring him back. In the Catholic world, these debates about withdrawal/domination are played out behind closed doors, but in the Protestant world, it manifests as an open split between Fundamentalists and Dominionists. The United States is the Dominionists' stronghold, and seizing control of the US is the movement's first major objective.

Dominionists believe that the civil laws laid down by the Old Testament (as distinct from the moral laws such as the Ten Commandments) should be enforced by reforming the U.S. legal system along theocratic lines, which would entail a substantial increase in the use of capital punishment. They also believe that biblical injunctions regarding slavery should be followed.[2][3][note 1] Dominionists are the direct, Christian equivalent of Islamists demanding Sharia law.

Its ideology is promoted by authors such as Gary North[note 2] and David Barton.[4]

Origin of the term[edit]

The term "Dominionism" comes from Genesis 1:26 and :28 of the King James Version of the Bible:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

In every other verse of the King James Version where the word "dominion" occurs, the word either refers to God's dominion over the world and all of its people, or to the dominion of a king over his kingdom, as in Psalms 72 ("The reign of a righteous king"). This is the only time when the word is applied to all men.

Unfortunately, this misinterpretation of the original text may have altered world history for the worse. The original word is more accurately translated as "stewardship".

One explanation for this dodgy translation is that King James I — a Scottish monarch who was trying to solidify his royal power after being crowned England's new king in 1603 — wanted his translation of the Bible (published in 1611) to reinforce his divine right to rule as he saw fit.

Types of dominionism[edit]

The term "dominionism" has become a catch-all for several ultraconservative Christian movements with theocratic tendencies. In its original sense, the word "dominionism" is not interchangeable with other terms like "Christian Reconstructionism".

  • The weakest form of dominionism is often referred to as "soft dominionism" or "Christian nationalism" — it advocates writing certain Biblical mores into law (e.g., bans on gay marriage), but does not support a full-fledged theocracy.
  • "Hard dominionism" encompasses openly theocratic ideologies.
    • "Theonomy" is a subset of hard dominionism — it entails a separation of church and state powers, but with an official state religion and legal system that must conform to Biblical moral codes. Theonomy is influenced by legalistic Calvinist theology and often advocates for a devolution of power to more local levels of government.[5][6]
      • "Christian Reconstructionism" — launched in large part by R.J. Rushdoony (1916-2001) and his Chalcedon Foundation (founded 1965) — is the most well-known modern incarnation of theonomy (these terms are also sometimes used interchangeably). Christian Reconstructionism is also largely hyper-Calvinist and incorporates neo-Confederate ideology.[7]
  • Another branch of this belief system which became more prominent shortly after the Christian Reconstructionist movement is called Kingdom Now theologyWikipedia or simply "Kingdom theology". Kingdom Now draws more on the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition.[8][9][10]

Conspiracy theory?[edit]

Critics of the term "dominionism" have characterized it as a conspiracy theory[11] or the "paranoid mot du jour".[12] Critics tend to attack a straw man by asserting that there is no actual movement calling itself "dominionism".[13] However, proponents of the term have acknowledged paranoid and conspiratorial overtones in widespread usage and criticized the characterization of dominionism as a unified, monolithic movement angling for world domination. Sara Diamond writes:

Conspiracy theorizing about the Christian Right's supposedly "secret" agenda involves highlighting the hate-mongering and bizarre ideas of a handful of Christian Right players while neglecting the broad popularity of dominion theology. There are a variety of ideological tendencies within the Christian Right. At the truly extreme end of the spectrum is a set of ideas proponents call reconstructionism, associated with only a small number of think tanks and book publishers. Many Christian Right activists have never even heard of reconstructionism, whose advocates call for the imposition of an Old Testament style theocracy, complete with capital punishment for offenses including adultery, homosexuality, and blasphemy.[14]

Chip Berlet defends the use of the term while acknowledging its abuse: "Just because some critics of the Christian Right have stretched the term dominionism past its breaking point does not mean we should abandon the term."[15]

Dominionist theology[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Millennialism

Dominionism is often connected with the theological position known as postmillennialism, which envisions a period of one thousand years before the eventual Second Coming of Christ during which the "Kingdom of God" will gradually gain ground against the forces that oppose it. For that reason, these "hard dominionists" usually work towards a general Christianization of society in the belief that this will help bring about the "Kingdom of God" and (after a thousand more years) the Second Coming.

In this, they differ from the premillennialists, who believe that the Second Coming itself will mark the beginning of the millennium and that Jesus will do (or at least direct) the dirty work; thus, they tend to focus more on the conversion of individuals than of society as such.

Dominionists believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. As such, they believe that God "gave man dominion over the earth."


Dominionism cannot be regarded merely as a hyper-literal take on Christianity; its central tenet has been opposed by some other Christians from the earliest days of the Church.

The precepts of the Mosaic Law have traditionally been divided into three categories by Christian theologians: the moral law (e.g., the Ten Commandments), the civil law (the "constitution" of ancient Israel), and the ceremonial law (e.g., the proscriptions against eating pork).

Also many Christians follow the tradition that both the ceremonial and civil laws were nullified with the coming of Jesus. At the Council of Jerusalem, described in Acts 15, it was determined that only certain moral precepts of the law applied to gentile Christians; Paul of Tarsus wrote extensively against "legalism," or the idea that Christians had to follow the whole Mosaic Law, saying that the whole point of the law was to lead the Jews to Jesus. This purpose having been fulfilled, the law was not in effect any longer. This position was later hammered out in detail, with the position being taken that the ceremonial law was "deadly" (could not be practiced at all) and the civil law "dead" (did not need to be practiced). St. Thomas Aquinas said:

For if a sovereign were to order these judicial precepts to be observed in his kingdom, he would not sin: unless perchance they were observed, or ordered to be observed, as though they derived their binding force through being institutions of the Old Law: for it would be a deadly sin to intend to observe them thus.[16]

In 1442, the Roman Catholic Council of Florence stated:

Whoever, after the passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions [of the Law of Moses] and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. It does not deny that from Christ's passion until the promulgation of the gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation. Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors. Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.[17]

Most Dominionists pretend that they are followers of John Calvin, if not the only true followers of that Protestant Reformer. But Calvin had even stronger views than Thomas Aquinas on that subject:

There are some who deny that any commonwealth is rightly framed which neglects the law of Moses, and is ruled by the common law of nations. How perilous and seditious these views are, let others see: for me it is enough to demonstrate that they are stupid and false.[18]

However, as might be observed, the Dominionists have little reason for reinstituting the Mosaic civil law besides, "It's in the Bible!"

Dominionism in fiction[edit]

The "Republic of Gilead" in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale represented one scenario of a Dominionist takeover in the United States after an environmental disaster drastically reduced the reproductive capacity of the population. You knew this government was off the deep end when you heard a reference to it being opposed by "Baptist rebels". Everyone thought the book was just some ultra-feminist overreaction to American society until 2009.

Another example of Dominionism is If this goes on... by Robert A. Heinlein, where an evangelical preacher named Nehemiah Scudder takes control of the United States Government's Executive Branch and imposes fundamentalist law over the country.

Speaking of Heinlein, Joe Haldeman's The Accidental Time Machine dedicates a large portion towards a dominionist takeover of the Eastern seaboard, all run by a crazed religious robotic overlord with killsats!

Stephen Baxter's Titan presents a heavily isolated United States under the rule of a Fundie president, in which, among other things, any kind of abortion is illegal and a large wall has been built along the Mexican border.[19] The old Ptolemaic modelWikipedia is seen as valid and following the Biblical interpretation, the sky is considered a solid dome beyond Low Earth Orbit except for people as pilots of military space planes.[note 3]

Victoria by William S. Lind, an ultraconservative writer, follows a dishonorably discharged USMC officer establishing a group of self-described 'Christian Marines' and having them take over the north-eastern states. They, along with a bunch of other similarly-minded factions, establish the Northern Confederation, prohibit religions other than Christianity, and equate the Ten Commandments with the Constitution as a source of law. Also, these good ol' guys effectively (as in 'not de jure') ban most electronics, (again effectively) push African-Americans from cities to the countryside, reassign all women to household positions, eliminate the Cultural Marxist academics, and discontinue the sloth-encouraging, spoiling practice of free money and food stamp distribution. Oh, and they help their fellows to rise to power in other parts of the former USA — most notably, the New Confederacy in the South — and in the end join the global New Crusade™ against Islam. Notably, Victoria's regime is portrayed as mostly sympathetic to the point of utopia, in contrast to the dystopia that any other sane author would paint.

A threat to freedom?[edit]

Many people argue about personal freedom in a theocracy, but the dominionists themselves see no lack of freedom as they believe following the bible is freedom. (After all, the sorts of things they want to do wouldn't be restricted by a theocracy, would they?) As a result, a group of teachers and intellectuals from Cornell University created Theocracy Watch to combat the dominionism movement.[20]

Connections to the United States Government[edit]

Youth With a Mission, a small but highly influential organization within Dominionist circles, owns the building which houses The Fellowship in Washington D.C..[21] "The Word of Faith" theology, an ideology practiced in many pentecostal and charismatic churches which maintain allegiance to dominionist theology, has been reported to have ties to the Central Intelligence Agency which has been spreading the ideology to oppose communist regimes in South American countries.[22] Talk about destroying the village to save it!


Notice the similarities?

The American Taliban[note 4] or more often Talibangelicals is a derogatory but often accurate term for American dominionists. It was coined after the invasion of Afghanistan, when the term Taliban became a household word. It is used to draw parallels between the militant tendencies of Islamic fundamentalism and those of dominionism.

The point of the phrase is to compare those who would make the United States into a country with a state religion, or inflict their religious views on others through government decree, to the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which was is once again also a repressive theocracy.

Essentially, the American Taliban wants to transform the United States into a theocratic regime enforcing fundamentalist Christian law.


"AIDS is a racial disease of Jews and Niggers, and fortunately it is wiping out the queers. I guess God hates queers for several reasons. There is one big reason to be against queers and that is because every time some white boy is seduced by a queer into becoming a queer, means his white bloodline has run out." — J. B. StonerWikipedia

A website dedicated to this phenomenon[23] has many illustrative quotes. Here are some examples:

  • "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war." — Ann Coulter
  • "With all due respect to those dear people, my friend, God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew." — Bailey Smith
  • "Don't use the word 'gay' unless it's an acronym for 'Got AIDS yet?'" — Bob Dornan
  • "Sodomy is a graver sin than murder. – Unless there is life there can be no murder." — David Trosch
  • "American Veterans are to blame for the fag takeover of this nation. They have the power in their political lobby to influence the zeitgeist, get the fags out of the military, and back in the closet where they belong!" — Fred Phelps
  • "The Islamic people, the Arabs, were the ones who captured Africans, put them in slavery, and sent them to America as slaves. Why would the people in America want to embrace the religion of slavers?" — Pat Robertson
  • "Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous. You cannot serve two masters: you must pick — God or Satan." — Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore,[24] best known for flouting the Second Commandment by putting up an idol to the Ten Commandments

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. It should not come as a surprise that most of these people are white Southerners.
  2. Gary North, however, represents a different view from many other dominionists. He believes Christians are to supplant the government, not take it over. Call this "anarcho-theocracy" if you need a good descriptor.
  3. For the sake of completeness, NASA has merged with the Air Force and for PR purposes has basically become Disney meeting pseudoscience and (Fundie) Christianity.
  4. This more often refers to an American Catholic who became a Muslim convert and joined the actual Taliban, John Walker Lindh.Wikipedia


  1. Casting Stones, SPLC
  2. "Dominionism". May 18, 2005.
  3. Enyart, Bob. "God and the Death Penalty".
  4. Kim Davis Should Not Be In Jail Because 'Man's Law Is Not Allowed To Contradict God's Law'
  5. What Is Theonomy? Theonomy FAQ, Jay Rogers, The Forerunner
  6. Meet the Theonomists, Thomas P. Roche, SUNY Buffalo
  7. Christian Reconstructionism, Apologetics Index
  8. Kingdom Now Theology and the New Apostolic Reformation, Left Hemispheres
  9. An Examination of Kingdom Theology, Apologetics Index
  10. See Chip Berlet's article What Is Dominionism? at Theocracy Watch for a fuller treatment of the term "dominionism."
  11. Dominionist Domination, Stanley Kurtz, National Review
  12. Be Not Afraid of Evangelicals, Lisa Miller, Washington Post
  13. Paranoia and the Progressive Press: A Response to WaPo's Religion Columnist, Peter Montgomery, Religion Dispatches
  14. Dominion Theology: The Truth About the Christian Right's Bid for Power, Sara Diamond, Z Magazine
  15. The Christian Right, Dominionism, and Theocracy, Chip Berlet, Political Research Associates
  16. Summa Theologica FS Q104 A3 BP1
  17. Ecumenical Council of Florence (1438-1445). Catholicism library at
  18. InstitutesWikipedia IV:XX.14
  19. Stephen Baxter, Titan, Voyager (UK), 1997. ISBN 0002254247
  20. Theocracy Watch
  21. Bruce Wilson (08/11/2009). "Ensign’s “C Street House” Owned By Group Touting Plans For Christian World Control". 
  23. Quotes from the The American Taliban
  24. Roy Moore's lawyer to Gov. Bentley: 'Public officials are ministers of God'