Radical Religion vs. The Environment
Dominion Theology is a generic term for a set of biblical beliefs, with the common dogmatic teaching that society must be controlled by biblical law, as they believe the Bible demands, and not by secular laws or mores. We are using this specific term to separate a particular movement associated with the concept that Christ will not return to earth until the environment is almost completely destroyed and must actively participate in that destruction. This concept is associated with a secular movement called “Wise Use”, promoted by the work of Ron Arnold, an advocate of the right to own property and use the planet’s resources for the benefit of mankind; the most important benefit being corporate profit. The darkest aspect of the Dominionist agenda is that they not only ignore environmental degradation, but actively promote it, and strongly condemn the environmental movement as being an impediment to the plan of God. Considering that there are groups which believe the actual destruction of the environment is a prerequisite for the return of Jesus, this group of beliefs is particularly dangerous. Predictions of the rapid decline of the environment is shocking and troubling to society as a whole, yet, to certain radical elements in fundamentalist Christianity, it is joyous news.
Increasing numbers of “progressive” Christians are now beginning to view environmental degradation as an issue all people of faith need to address. But, the radical Christian Right has chosen to limit their attention to social moral issues such as homosexuality and abortion, as well as, theocratic domination of society. Part of that theocratic domination is a concept that the sole purpose of nature and its resources are for the use of mankind only. God put man in charge of the resources of Earth, and mankind has the divine right to use it as it pleases. And, added to this, they hold the mistaken belief that God created the Earth with enough resources to last until he destroys it again, and after he “raptures” his “chosen ones”. This combines a destructive belief with a complete ignorance of its impact.
Unrestrained use of environment, no matter how destructive, is not thought to be a problem, because Dominionists believe that when it finally runs out, or collapses completely, it will signal the imminent return of Jesus. Any opposing that concept are labeled as New Age followers of Satan, tree-huggers, nature-worshipping pagans, or godless socialists. These neo-conservatives have completely ignored the undeniable facts about environmental destruction, and have instead chosen the path of supporting the corporate view, which is shared by the Bush administration and the corporate mentality that human progress is the highest priority of human existence. Human progress, especially, when it causes environmental destruction, is considered by many to be a glorious goal, heralding the quick return of the Savior of faithful Christians. Destroying the planet to force Jesus to save mankind may seem like convoluted reasoning, but to the Dominionists, it makes perfect sense.
The Christian Right holds the environmental movement in utter contempt and many Christians, who claim to love the Creator of all things, choose to express hatred for those who try to preserve the very Earth their God created. And, many in the Christian Right believe encouraging sustainable lifestyle is no less than satanically inspired. The reason for these bizarre beliefs is simple; power and money, and, although the powerful opposition to the environmental movement has nothing to do with Christian values, it has everything to do with the conservative and wealthy Christian ministries. The lay members in these movements are completely sincere, although obviously lacking a sense of logic and concern for the environment they are blessed to inhabit. They are only accepting the rhetoric of the pulpit that they honestly believe is the truth. After all, questioning your church leaders, no matter how insensitive their concepts, is considered heresy, and often, proof of demonic possession. Even though the Bible clearly says to prove all things, (I Thess. 5:21), attempting to do so will label you a blasphemer and earn you quick condemnation to Hell. Also, adding to this anomaly is the prosperity doctrine; a belief that God blessed his faithful with wealth and power, exactly the thing Jesus preached against. Reaping the wealth God placed in the environment is just thought to be reaping your just reward for your good works.
Here are the main points that guide the Dominionist view of why the environment should be destroyed:
● Scripture defines God as the source of private property: “For every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them” (Ecclesiastes 5:19)
● Dominionists take their core beliefs from the Puritans, who were early settlers in America, that believed they were given a divine mandate to build the ‘city on a hill’ in the new America. The Puritans perceived themselves as God’s special people who inherited the covenants God made to Israel.
● Dominionists are both “Preterist” and “Post-millennialist”. Pretarism is the belief that the prophesies of Revelation are already happening. Postmillennialism is the belief that Christ cannot make an appearance until a certain amount of achievements have been made by the church.
● The Kingdom on Earth described in scripture is represented by the Church in its current form, based on their interpretation of Revelation. The Dominionists are the new chosen people, and they should have dominion now.
● Dominion is a divine mandate issued at creation for Adam to subdue the Earth on behalf of God. Since Adam failed, it now falls on the shoulders of present day man to play this mandate out.
● Since Dominionists have been given divine orders to subdue the Earth, then nothing is sacred, and given Adam and Eve’s failure, the Earth is cursed, hence, there is no reason to protect the environment.
● Dominionists hold that there is nothing wrong with destroying the environment because the right to private property is more important.
● It is now the responsibility of Dominionists to destroy the cursed Earth, in order to provide means to reconstruct society into a theocracy, which will ensure the return of Jesus.
Wealth is the Catalyst
The pulpits espousing these beliefs are controlled by ministries, which are often generously funded by people whose business activities are the most damaging to the planet and its inhabitants. Many of the leaders of these ministries are wealthy from ownership of stock in major corporations, and the portfolios of the major Christian fundamentalist churches are awash in corporate investments. They actually believe that God is blessing them through investments in corporations whose very existence and profitability revolve around environmental destruction. Pat Robertson, the head of the Christian Coalition, is a classic example. Robertson is owner of CENCO Refining, and the Pat Robertson Charitable Remainder Trust is owner of the mining company Freedom Gold created in the Cayman Islands to mine gold in Liberia, with the infamous Charles Taylor as his partner. He is only one example of many whose wealth is gained at the cost of Earth’s sensitive environment. By demonizing the environmental movement, the Christian neo-cons are only fighting for their business interests, not their Christian values.
Some quotes from conservatives on environmental protection:
● “I believe that global warming is a myth. And so, therefore, I have no conscience problems at all and I’m going to buy a Suburban next time. (Jerry Falwell)
● “I can tell you, our grandchildren will laugh at those who predicted global warming. We’ll be in global cooling by then, if the Lord hasn’t returned. I don’t believe a moment of it. The whole thing is created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability.” (Jerry Falwell)
● “The radical environmental movement is destroying America. It is turning our society, once based on individual freedom and responsibility, into little more than mindless followers of regulations established at the whim of unelected special-interest groups.” (John Meredith)
● “While the Soviet Union has collapsed, communism is not dead. It has [been] repackaged under a new name: environmentalism. Communism is about extensive government regulation and control by elites, and so is environmentalism.” (Walter Williams)
● “Global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” (Senator James Inhofe)
John O’Sullivan, a famous New York journalist, editorialized in 1845 that “it was the nation’s manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given.” O’Sullivan’s mantra “Manifest Destiny,” spurred the belief, during the 19th Century, that Americans had an obligation to settle the Western territories. Indeed, the phrase “Manifest Destiny” implied that America’s expansion was predetermined and, most importantly, inspired by God. Manifest Destiny was taken up by those in government who determined that the entirety of the North American continent must be settled. Using this as a religious rationale to facilitate this goal, was a convenient way to encourage settlers to “Go West”, and provided the spiritual rationale for westward expansion.
Fast forward to the present and we find the same rationale being programmed into the religious right, with a new twist. Large, well-organized, and powerful groups of anti-environmental activists are using similar tactics. The anti-environmental philosophy, known as “Wise Use”, has now replaced “Manifest Destiny” as the mantra. And, these activists hold a powerful and destructive influence over government, to the point of even ignoring the warnings of their own experts, and going so far as to silence them and alter their reports, to support unfettered growth. The close ties between anti-environmentalists, who subscribe to the ideas of Wise Use, and members of fundamentalist Christian churches and organizations is alarming. This also mirrors the traditional relationship between religious and political conservatives. In so doing, they have gained a literal army of God to promote their own agenda.
Wise Use – Greed Masked as Wisdom
Right-wing activist and timber industry consultant, Ron Arnold, the current leader of the corporate-sponsored, anti-environmentalist movement, has been credited with coining the term “Wise Use”. The phrase was actually originated by Gifford Pinchot, the man appointed head of the U.S. Forest Service by Theodore Roosevelt, a century ago. Pinchot used the term in a book he wrote titled “A Primer of Forestry” in 1903. Railroad companies were exerting intense pressure on the Roosevelt administration to use Forest Service lands. Pinchot used this concept in an effort to strike a balance between preserving the nation’s forests and the interests of corporations.
Ron Arnold is employing the same concept to enhance the bank accounts of corporate stockholders at the expense of the entire world’s environment. It is the same strategy, but with a much broader and damaging agenda. Gifford Pinchot used the “Wise Use” concept in response to the views of naturalist John Muir, who strongly advocated that public lands remain pristine. Roosevelt considered the ongoing expansion of the population into the Western territories as the agenda of what he called the “land grabbers.” Pinchot was trying to change this view, thus allowing the Western territories to prosper, while preserving many forests and other natural environments for future generations. Arnold cares little for preserving anything, save his image as corporate darling.
Although Ron Arnold did not invent the term Wise Use, he has coined other terms such as “ecoterrorist” and “rural cleansing”, a great difference, when compared to the way it was initially used by Gifford Pinchot. He has, through a series of writings and public appearances, created a combative style of demonizing the environmental movement that is dangerous and alarming. Arnold is executive vice president of the appropriately titled “Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise”, a think tank, which claims it monitors and acts against “threats to free markets, property rights, and limited government”, and, falsely claims to be “an educational foundation for individual liberty.” It is, in truth, a center for anti-environmental activism. Arnold espouses the concept that the environmental movement has a radical political agenda with a goal to “hamper property rights”, and “dislodge the market system with public ownership of all resources and production.” He believes that the only solutions to the world’s environmental problems will be found by the leaders in technology, industry, and trade. He actively promotes the convoluted and corporate-prompted belief that “Our limitless imaginations can break through natural limits to make earthly goods and carrying capacity virtually infinite.”
Lobbying by the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, and associated interests, has led directly to timber industry exploitation of public forests, the development of resorts in our national parks, and the opening up of the highly destructive use of off-road vehicles in our National Park system. In a series of articles, he wrote: “Citizen activist groups, allied to the forest industry, are vital to our future survival. They can speak for us in the public interest where we ourselves cannot. They are not limited by liability, contract law or ethical codes. Industry must come to support citizen activist groups, providing funds, materials, transportation, and most of all, hard facts.”
Dominionists and the Wise Use Movement
The connection between the environment and dominion theology can be found in Genesis: “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.” (Genesis 1:22) Although there are many interpretations of what this passage means, many Christians believe it means we must take care of the environment. The Evangelical Environmental Network, for instance, states: “Most major environmental problems such as air pollution, water pollution, and the threat of global warming hurt people. These problems fight against Christ’s reconciliation of all of creation. In many instances they hit the poor, the children, and the elderly the hardest.”
Unfortunately, the Dominionists, who are strongly allied with “Wise Use” movement, believe Genesis 1:22 means that mankind has the right to rule over the natural world and use it as he sees fit. Combined with their belief that the End Times are near, this leads millions to believe that, not only is there is no need to care for the environment, but, unbelievably, destroying the environment will hasten the Second Coming. Since Jesus predicted there would come a time, when, unless he intervened, all living things could be destroyed, (Matt. 24:22), Dominionists take this to mean that the faster they destroy the planet, the sooner he will return.
The Champion Dominionist
When we look back and wonder how the planet came to the precipice of destruction, which it certainly will, George Bush will stand out clearly as the champion of that destruction. Although he does not publicly confess a Dominionist belief, he certainly qualifies as the poster boy for the movement. His administration has completely reversed the gains made to protect the environment over the last half-century, and may just have single-handedly pushed the planet over the edge. Every action the White House has taken has dramatically increased the damage to the environment and richly rewarded the corporations doing the damage. When he was running for office, he stated “I’m going to give you clear skies, clean air, and clean water,”. When he became president, he gutted the environmental controls that were designed to provide clean air and water. He has blocked every effort nationally and internationally to curb global warming, and done everything to nullify any efforts made by other nations.
He undermined the Montreal Protocol to Protect the Ozone Layer and weakened the G-8 Climate Plan, gutted wetlands protection, repealed the Clean Water Act, de-funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and has persistently tried to drill for oil in sensitive wilderness areas. His anti-environmental agenda is clearly evidenced in his judicial nominations, his witch-hunts against climate change scientists, and consistently ignoring the science on clean air. He has also tried to soften greenhouse gas links to global warming, and allowed power plants, refineries, and other industrial sites to spew seveal more millions of tons of unhealthy pollutants into the air, than were being released before he took office. He may not be a Dominionist, but they would have a hard time finding anyone that does more to advance their dark agenda.
Dominionists in Presidential Politics
In response to a journalist’s inquiry into Republican presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee’s past as minister for 12 years, before entering politics, his campaign refused to release the text of any of his sermons. A similar response was received from the two churches he pastored, and, probably for good reason. In a book titled “Kids Killing Kids”, which he wrote in 1998, Huckabee described the things that he believes are fracturing our society, and lumps together AIDS, drug abuse, pornography, homosexual activism, and environmentalism in the same category. One wonders what environmentalists have to do with purveyors of pornography, or anything else he listed, but classifying environmentalism with sin is a clear calling card of the anti-environment agenda of many Dominionists. And, his sudden surge in the polls, just before the Republican Convention, has been attributed to a rapid growth in support from Christian Evangelicals. Even though many of those Evangelicals may not agree with his connection of environmentalism to sin, they certainly don’t seem to believe that is of enough importance to deny him their support. This indicates that, though many Evangelical ministries have taken a pro-environmental stand, it is of a lower priority in their judgment about who leads the country than their theocratic views.
The Godly Must Be Crazy
Again, unbelievably, Dominionists beleive that the Bible teaches that the faster they destroy the planet, the sooner Jesus will return to take them to Heaven and they consider this a divine mandate. But, isn’t this like thinking that if you set your house on fire, it’s ok; the Fire Department will put it out? Of course it is, but there’s a bizarre twist to this way of thinking. What if that person believed that, as soon as their house burned to the ground, some mythical benefactor would move them into a huge mansion in a gated community, give them a magic elixir that would make them live forever, and provide them with unlimited resources for eternity? And, what about your neighbors, who may lose their houses, and lives, by the threat you cause? No problem, your benefactor has firmly convinced you that they are all evil automatons, and that he will kill them by burning them alive in their houses, anyway. Only you, and a few “chosen ones”, have been selected to receive his blessing. The others will have no need for a place to live.
That may sound strange, but that is exactly what the majority of Christians, not just Domionists, believe. They have been programmed to believe that Jesus only loves them, and hates the billions of others that don’t believe the way they do. He will take them, (he Rapture), to “Heaven”, (the gated community complete with a guard named Peter), give them eternal life, (the magic elixir), kill all the rest of humanity, (your neighbors, the evil automatons), by burning them alive, (the destruction of Earth by fire and the false concept of Hell). So, the sooner you burn your house down, the sooner you get your mansion.
If you think that is a radical concept, just spend a few Sundays in the pew of a fundamentalist Christian church. Not only will you be told all of the above, but you will be told that if you don’t accept this terrorist doctrine, your absolute destiny is to suffer an unimaginable torture for the same eternity that the rest of your pew mates will be spending in unimaginable bliss. Fear and incentive are the tools of ruthless dictatorial rulers throughout the entire existence of mankind. And, if you don’t think most church leaders are ruthless dictators, just try questioning their authority.
Put the Ron Arnold’s and Pat Robertson’s of the world on the same path, with the same agenda, and you have a recipe for certain disaster, such as we are now experiencing in its early beginnings in the world’s environment. They are literally marching the world into a manmade Hell for what they perceive to be a heavenly cause. But, can they be stopped? Not without denying them freedom of religion and speech, in other words, a “Catch 22”. So, if the predictions of Jesus are true, that he will intervene just when the Earth is in its death throes, the Dominionists are actually fulfilling their own sick agenda. But, how will they justify destroying the environment they claim “their” God created? They might be in for a shocking experience when the real God points out that they have completely ignored his prime edict on the environment, when he said “Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit.” (Numbers 35:34)
When it all comes to a head, and the Dominionists think they have accomplished their destructive agenda, they will, hopefully, have the time to reflect on the true results of a failure to “wisely use” the planet they inhabit. “After the last tree has been cut down; after the last river has been poisoned; after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.” A Cree Prophecy