The right wing of Republican Party is currently flapping with a passionate intensity that recalls Girolamo Savonarola, the Dominican friar who at the end of the 15th century chased the Medici out of Florence and established what he hoped would be the New Jerusalem–rich and mighty, pure in morals, and the center of world Christianity. But is some such conviction really animating the Tea Partiers in Washington today?

Over at Huffpost, Morgan Guyton points his finger at Dominionism, the neo-Calvinist theological ideology that advocates Christian governance of civil society according to the moral precepts of the Old Testament. The key figure for Guyton is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father Rafael, a pastor with Texas charismatic ministry Purifying Fire International.

Rafael Cruz, who was active in the creation of the religious right three decades ago, is certainly on board with the dominionist message. Like other dominionists, he appeals to the King James version’s mistranslation of Revelation 5:10 — “And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” — to make the case for Christian rule of America. (The Greek word basileian should be translated ” a kingdom” rather than “kings,” as later versions do.) And he sees his son as anointed to do so.

Whether that makes the senator himself a dominionist is another question, as is the extent to which dominionist thinking has permeated the thinking of the 30 or so members of Congress who are holding Speaker John Boehner’s feet to the fire. Unlike their predecessor, the Savonarolas in D.C. are doing the Tea Party thing of keeping their talk on the secular side. If Cruz, during his 21-hour talkathon, discoursed on the dominionist goal for America, I didn’t notice it.

To get a feel for the dominionism of the moment, I propose turning instead to David Brody, CBN’s Washington correspondent and a reporter who bloweth as the evangelical wind listeth. Last week, he began a post with a Mission Impossible message for the junior senator from Texas: “Ted Cruz: Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to change Washington DC and begin a constitutional conservative takeover.”

You see, all the pundits who are sipping lattes inside the Beltway are being short-sighted here. Ted Cruz’s stand against Obamacare is not the end game. The end game (the mission) is to change the Republican Party; to provoke fight after fight so that the GOP can be purged of those who are NOT committed to the cause of constitutional conservatism…the battle for the soul of the GOP is on.

It is no accident that the biggest fireworks in the shutdown so far have been inside the Republican Party. The dominion being sought is not (yet) over Washington, much less all Christendom. It’s over the GOP.

Categories: Politics

Mark Silk

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service


  1. Huffington Post also caught this angle on Ted Cruz…could he be involved in pleasing Daddy? He is ignorant, mean and warped…and those are his good points.

  2. James Keegan

    JohnM – Is this the article you were referring to?


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