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Don’t Bank on an End to Santorum’s Surges
Sen. Rick Santorum speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 17, 2011. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Don’t Bank on an End to Santorum’s Surges

Sen. Rick Santorum speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 17, 2011. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“Santorum's hopes may be dashed,” read Rosalind S. Alderman's Washington Post article following Rick Santorum's loss in South Carolina. The race in that state could have been the death knell for politicized Christianity, embodied by Santorum, but his recent wins in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri have revived his campaign and illustrated how dangerous a hyperpolitical Christianity is to the America we experience today.

Experts cannot be blamed for thinking the crisis ended in South Carolina. Nearly two-thirds of South Carolina Republican primary voters were Evangelicals, and 65 percent voted for the non-evangelical candidate in Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney.

Before the vote, a group of 114 evangelical leaders attempted to swing the evangelical vote in favor of Santorum. Family Research Center spokesman Tony Perkins said, “There is a hope and an expectation that this will have an impact on South Carolina.” Despite the Center's endorsement, Santorum only managed to win 17 percent of the South Carolinian vote.

It looked as if early primary voters might have wholesale regretted the type of politicized Christianity that has been a dominant tenet of the modern GOP since Reagan grafted the movement to his 1980 platform.

It was a smart move by the Reagan campaign; according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 78.4 percent of American adults referred to themselves as Christians, and some 20 percent of America identifies as Evangelicals.

It is not just the nationwide presidential campaign; across the United States, hundreds of ballot names for Congress, state legislatures and governors' mansions are testament to the rising influence of politicized Christianity.

Politicized Christianity seems to pick and choose Biblical inspiration and Christian values. They seem willing to omit that Jesus dined with the poor, lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors (despite Grover Norquist's objections). Even the biblical arch-baddie, Governor Pontius Pilate, shows pause on carrying out capital punishment.

Politicized Christianity is not just a Santorum platform; two other Republican hopefuls ejected from the race have strong ties to the movement called Dominionism: Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Dominionism is a form political Christianity whose adherents believe the faithful need to take up spiritual arms in order to assist God in his battle over the devil. This battle ranges from wrestling for control of politics, media, culture and business to extracting demons from institutions and people.

Bachmann's juris doctorate was conferred by Oral Roberts University, an educational institution The New York Times called, “a law school rooted in charismatic Christian belief.” Charles Kothe, dean of Oral Roberts, wrote in the first edition of the school's law review, the Journal of Christian Jurisprudence, that the school seeks to “restore law to its historic roots in the Bible.” During her tenure at Oral Roberts, Bachmann said professor and Christian Reconstructionist, John Eidsmoe “had a great influence on me.”

Perry's meteoric rise was inspired by the August 6 debut of a now-recurring event, billed under the name, “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis.” Some 40,000 people attended the first meeting, and it has become a growing movement, with four other statewide events and seven more in planning. Eight members of the event's leadership team were affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation.

C. Peter Wagner, a leading apostle in the New Apostolic Reformation and father of the Dominionism movement, told NPR, “Dominion has to do with authority and subduing, and it relates to society.” While Wagner does not represent the full breath of the New Apostolic Reformation or the Dominionism movement, he is a strong voice in the growing mega-sector of theoretic political activism.

The belief requires a worldview of inherent global evil. Dominionist theology has molded American discourse, giving politics a hyperbolic, good-versus-evil quality. If Dominionism had campaign bumper stickers, they might read, “Biblical Law for America” or “The Founding Fathers Are My Prophets.”

Politicized Christianity seems to be a strange bedfellow for a GOP espousing small government. They desire to wield St. Michael's sword with the power of the Oval Office. The exact mechanism for accomplishing the goals of the Alpha and Omega with a small government remains to be seen.

South Carolina was a referendum on politicized Christianity. The referendum failed there, but February 7 marked a new resurgence in the remaining campaign with vestiges of political Christianity. Maine, Washington, Arizona and Michigan separate the campaigns from Super Tuesday. Voter must reject politicized Christianity; it is to prune off Reagan's graft.