It is considered out of bounds to make too much of this --- and if anyone uses sharp language to describe it they are immediately chastised and abandoned by the party and many liberal supporters. But it's real and it's a problem, as Michelle Goldberg spells out here:
With Tim Pawlenty out of the presidential race, it is now fairly clear that the GOP candidate will either be Mitt Romney or someone who makes George W. Bush look like Tom Paine. Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional. Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult. Most writers, myself included, who explore it have been called paranoid. In a contemptuous 2006 First Things review of several books, including Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy, and my own Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote, “the fear of theocracy has become a defining panic of the Bush era.”
If only. The truth is that people who write about this are derided from both sides of the spectrum. On the right, it's used as a method to play victim, obviously. On the left it's used to beat people over the head for either being 'fearmongers' (allegedly in service of the corporate Democrats) or insensitive secularists who are chasing away the religious from the liberal cause. It's a thankless task and I'm always grateful to the few the proud like Goldberg, Sarah Posner
, Adele Stan
, Jeff Sharlet
and the stalwarts at People for the American Way
among others, for at least documenting this stuff.
Rick Perry is a serious candidate and Bachman is a star. And both of them are religious extremists on a level we haven't experienced before. It should scare the hell out of people, but the press sees them as panderers, not true believers. And I don't think they're right.