Douglas Baker on Dominionism, Michele Bachmann, & Rick Perry
Date: September 19th, 2011

Recently, Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have been accused by some journalists of being influenced by a political theology known as Dominionism.  Also known as Christian Reconstructionism, this line of thinking supposedly advocates for a theologically-based government based largely on Old Testament law.  But are some of these assertions simply misrepresentations of various Christian thinkers, and of the positions of the GOP candidates.  Douglas Baker, assistant to the provost at Union University and a regular columnist at (the Crisis and Kairos column), discusses the philosophy behind Dominionism.  We trace the roots of this theological perspective back many centuries and discuss how thinkers such as St. Augustine and John Calvin approached the ongoing tension between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man, reflecting upon the proper role of religious thought and law should play in secular governance.  Our discussion then turns to two contemporary figures who are said to have had influenced modern Christian Reconstructionists — Rousas John Rushdoony and Francis Schaeffer.  Baker argues that Rushdoony, although capturing the attention of some of the critics of Dominionism such as Michelle Goldberg and Sarah Diamond with his more extreme views, has largely been a marginal figure in the thinking of most evangelical Christians.  Instead, Doug Baker asserts that Francis Schaeffer has had a more profound and moderate impact on evangelicals, influencing the likes of Chuck Colson, James Kennedy, and Jerry Falwell.  We discuss why some journalists and authors have tended to focus on Rushdoony, and how they have misrepresented the debate over the role of religious faith in the public square that is ongoing amongst evangelical Christians.  We then talk about the proper role religion should play in government, noting that religion can sometimes have a corrupting influence on politics and how politics may have a corrupting influence on religion.  This discussion takes us back to James Madison’s thoughts on religion during the Founding and allows us to think about the recent Faith-Based Initiative that was pursued under our last three presidents, most notably George W. Bush.  We finish up with Doug’s thoughts on how and to what extent Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry — two of the leading contenders for the Republican nomination for president in 2012 (as of mid-September 2011) — have been influenced by Christian Reconstructionism.  Doug then shares his thoughts on whether LSU is a contender for the national football championship or not.  Recorded: September 15, 2011.


Downgrading Dominionism” by Douglas E. Baker on

Crisis and Kairos, Douglas Baker’s blog on

Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, by Michelle Goldberg.

Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States, by Sara Diamond.

A Christian Manifesto, by Francis Schaeffer.

How Should We Then Live, by Francis Schaeffer.

The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England, by Harry Stout.


Luis Bolce on the Media and Anti-Fundamentalism.

David Brody on the 2010 Midterm Elections and Religious Journalism.

Joe Fuiten on Clergy & Politics.


3 Responses to “Douglas Baker on Dominionism, Michele Bachmann, & Rick Perry”

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  2. […] Douglas Baker on Dominionism, Michele Bachman, and Rick Perry. […]

  3. John Weaver says:

    Hey guys,
    I am a scholar in evangelical studies and though I do think the Reconstructionist links are seriously overplayed, this podcast does seriously underestimate Rushdoony’s influence. That influence is widely acknowledged by a variety of evangelical scholars themselves, including George Marsden and within Hopkins’s biography of Francis Schaeffer. The thing is Rushdoony’s influence was mainly on politicos and policy wonks, not upon the rank and file (who find the man abhorrent).

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