p. 86 “This is a modern fantasy constructed primarily upon the pseudo historical musings of the Calvinist theologian Rousas John Rushdoony, whose best-selling books The Messianic Character of American Education and Intellectual Schizophrenia launched the Christian nationalist movement in the 1960s.”
Rousas John Rushdoony:
“Founded by a Presbyterian thinker, Rousas John Rushdoony, Reconstructionism argues for a free-market economy, the ending of government-provided education and welfare, and, most controversially, the restoration of Old Testament sanctions that will include the death penalty for murder, adultery, homosexuality, and incorrigible juvenile delinquency.”
Rushdoony’s Reconstructionism theory is one of several that falls into the school of thought known as Dominion theology. Dominion theology became popular in 1970s with the rise of the Christian Right as its members turned towards Dominion theology as a back bone to their own religio-political beliefs.
The Christian Right refers to a right wing political group whose political agendas are based on Christian religious beliefs. Members of the Christian Right follow the concept that it is a Christians “duty to seek to reform society’s institutions” rather than to “confine themselves to saving souls.” The Christian Right was mainly focused on reforming recent laws of the time particularly those dealing with abortion. Some however took it further arguing that America was formed as a Christian nation and it should return to its “intended” form, theories on how this should be done are debated and fall under the heading of Domian Theology. “The central biblical text for Dominionists is Genesis 1: 26–28, where God declares that man shall have dominion over all the earth.”
“Chronology.” The Religious Right: A Reference Handbook. Amenia: Grey House Publishing, 2007. Credo Reference. Web. 07 September 2011.
“Dominion Theology.” Conspiracy Theories in American History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003. Credo Reference. Web. 07 September 2011.
“R. J. Rushdoony versus Kinism (updated).” Theonomy Resources. Web. 07 Sept. 2011.
Aslans premise that the idea that America was founded as a religious country is a myth is not wholly implausible. Despite hype from modern literature, movies, and people like Rushdoony it is fairly clear that Americas founding fathers fully intended to create a country with no ties to any church (possibly in the hopes of differentiating themselves from Britain even more or simply to avoid some the troubles Britain had faced in that department). However Aslan assumption that the integration of religious elements is solely because “[America] has always been infused with a sense of sacred purpose” is a narrow point of view seemingly focused on fulfilling his own point. He fails to take into account one of his own arguments which is that nations used to be pulled together by several elements including a shared religion. While the founding fathers where taking a step away from the norm by not using religion as a basis for the country Christianity still permeated the culture not as a feeling of grandiose but as a fact of everyday life.
p. 86 “From Manifest Destiny to the War on Terror, the American experience has always been infused with a sense of sacred purpose, a conviction that America’s values are God’s Values…”
Manifest Destiny was a term coined by New York Post editor and journalist John L O’Sullivan in 1845. O’Sullivan wrote “Our (America’s) manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence (God) for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.” O’Sullivan wrote this during a period in our time known as colonization when the strongest nations at the time strove to gain dominance over the others with the most land and recourses gained by colonizing other, weaker, countries and civilization.
The term Manifest Destiny grew in popularity as the ideal behind American colonization. The belief that it was not only our right but our duty, as ordained by God or a sort of general supreme force such as Destiny, to control as much land and recourses as possible to make America the strongest of nations.
Gast, John. Manifest Destiny. 1872. Destiny’s Children. By Donna Decesare. WordPress, n.d. Web. 7 Sept. 2011.
“manifest destiny.” The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide. Abington: Helicon, 2010. Credo Reference. Web. 07 September 2011.
Can we argue with Aslan? America the hero, America triumphant. The American Dream can seem to be ambiguous idea everyone has their own dream but it all comes down to the same basics, to rise above adversity and gain your dream. Hollywood attaches a sense of glory, wonder, and destiny to the stories of heroes, those who achieve the dream, with shiny editing and swelling bravado music. We leave the theaters with that same sense overwhelming us but soon it fades and we are left with the true story of some regular man or woman who did what they needed to do to get their dreams. Occasionally we might get swept away by self-importance but it is only a temporary state. Our sense of pride of believing that there is something great about America is not based in the belief that we are made better but that we (the regular and normal) simply have the chance to fight to become better. Manifest Destiny would be the death of the American Dream.
p.87-88 “When Ronald Reagan, who regularly invited evangelical ideologues such as Hal Lindsey, Jerry Flawell, and Mike Evans to the White House to tutor him on scripture and proghecy, first labeled the Soviet Union ‘The Evil Empire’ in a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, he was using coded language that his Christian audience would have implicitly understood.”
“A controversial Baptist minister and televangelist, Jerry Falwell was the founder and head of the Moral Majority, the organization at the forefront of the Religious Right during the 1980s. A leading figure in the culture wars, Falwell regarded himself as a prophet called by God to denounce the secularization of American society.”
Falwell was born and raised in Lynchburg Virginia where he would, in 1956, found Thomas Road Baptist Church, one of the first in the new trend of Megachurches, and in 1971 Liberty University (originally Liberty Baptist University). Both these institutions and his strides in televangelism (spreading the gospel through modern mediums) were based on his own vehement religious beliefs.
Falwell was often faulted for what many said were intolerant viewpoints. During the segregation reform Falwell was very vocal in degradation of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. both for his attempts to end segregation and for his involvement as a religious leader in politics to areas Falwell felt should remain separate. In 1973 however, Falwell broke with his own belief and got involved with the political scene following the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize abortion. Throughout the years Falwell has been highly publicized for his continuously inflammatory remarks most recently his statement “[blaming] the terrorist attacks on the forces of secularism in America, including the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, and lesbians.”
“Falwell, Jerry.” Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2010. Credo Reference. Web. 07 September 2011.
Aslan’s representation of Falwell makes him seem like an accepted thinker when in truth many of his ideas are rejected. Aslan’s manipulation of our view in this case makes it necessary to question his other statements and representations even more.
The Templar Knights, more fully known as The Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, where an international religious-military order founded in 1118 by the French Knight Hugo Payens. There original purpose was to protect pilgrims on their way to the holy land a duty they performed for 200 years. They also participated in the crusades during this time. Over time they became an extremely wealthy and strong military force.
“Guillaume de Clermont defending Ptolemais.” The Bridgeman Art Library Archive. London: Bridgeman, 2008. Credo Reference. Web. 07 September 2011.
The Templars are most definitely an example of a military force driven by religious beliefs.
p.88 “‘The Christian home is to be in a constant state of war,’ says Ted Haggard, the disgraced former pastor of one of America’s largest and most politically influential evangelical megachures, New Life Church in Colorado Springs.”
“Large Protestant church with an average weekly attendance of 2,000 or more; relatively uncommon until after 1970. In the United States, where most megachurches are located, there were more than 1,300 by the late 2000s. They can also be found in a number of other countries, e.g., South Korea, Brazil, and several African nations. More than 60 percent of the American megachurches are located in the Sun Belt, especially in suburban areas of California, Texas, Georgia, and Florida. The average congregation ranges from about 2,000 to 3,000 in size.”
Mega churches are often characterized by giant congregations, charismatic preachers, the use of television and other forms of media, and the corporate like nature of the ministry.
“megachurch.” The Columbia Encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Credo Reference. Web. 09 September 2011.
Megachurches are a somewhat controversial point often portrayed in negatively in modern media. These ministries are so different from the traditional small church that they are often counted as separate from the Christian community. However because Megachurches are so large with so much money they have a far stronger political voice.
p. 90 “Evangelicalism is not so much a religious sect as it is a social movement, focusing as it does on what it considers to be the social implication of the Gospel story.”
The Gospel story is a somewhat unspecific term that might refer to several things. In all definitions it relates to the Christian Bible however weather it refers to the New Testament, the story of Christ’s life as related in the first four books of the New Testament, or the entire gospel typically changes from use to use.
“gospel.” Collins English Dictionary. London: Collins, 2000. Credo Reference. Web. 09 September 2011.
With the different definitions of Gospel story possibly this might changes Aslan’s meaning and our understanding of Evangelicalism great deal.