Democracy Under Assault
Theopolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right

Michele Swenson

Influence of Premillennial and Postmillennial End-Times Theology
within the Political Right

An umbrella organization, formed in 1982 around the tenets of Christian Reconstructionism for the purpose of injecting dominionism into politics, the Coalition on Revival (COR) is one of a number of secretive right-wing groups. CORís Manifesto, signed by adherents, proclaims that America should "function as a Christian nation," and scorns government "redistribution of [citizens] wealth and evolution taught as a monopoly viewpoint in the public schools." Journalist Chip Berlet characterized CORís Manifesto as a strong "defense of wealth and patriarchy."

One function of COR has been to bring together competing factions of Christian fundamentalists to create a transdenomination theology. Specifically, COR has sought to achieve some unity between premillenialists, who view world reform possible only after the return of Christ, and postmillenialists, who believe Jesusí return is contingent upon the establishment of Christian political rule. COR strives to build the Kingdom of God on earth "in so far as it is possible." Pat Robertson et al seek Christian dominion over the earth in every arena of endeavor, from control of schools and government, to media. His is the "dominion" mandate to "Christianize" social and political institutions (The Secret Kingdom)ó "Democracy is the second best government," he declared.

Because "regent" is one who governs in the absence of a sovereign, Robertson describes his Regent University as "a kingdom institution," a training ground for grooming "Godís representatives on the face of the earth" to rule until Jesus, the absent sovereign, returns. Robertsonís apocalyptic vision, writes theologian Walter H. Capps, holds that civil order (government) is destined to give way to establishment of Godís kingdom and the reign of "Godís people." Robertson envisioned his own 1988 presidential aspirations as a transitional stage that would precede biblical Apocalypse.

Arizona Republican party backers of Pat Robertsonís 1988 presidential bid, joined former Arizona governor Evan Mecham in 1989 to pass a resolution declaring the United States "a Christia nation," stating that the U.S. Constitution created "a republic based upon the absolute laws of the Bible, not a democracy." About the same time, fundamentalists in Georgia, sought to work through the Republican party to declare the Bible the source of civil law.

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Rapture-centered "Left Behind" books, is among premillennialists who advance a vision of the world in hopeless decline until the second coming of Christ, to be followed by his 1,000-year reign on earth (a literalist reading of the biblical Book of Revelation). LaHaye, Jerry Falwell and others who embrace this view regard all environmental protections, or any effort for social change, futile. Just as Y2K was widely viewed by the religious right as occasion to stock food, medicine and guns in anticipation of wide-scale social upheaval, so, too, do premillennialists anticipate imminent end-times conflict. To LaHaye and other biblical literalists, the Iraq war represents a prequel to end-times battles. LaHaye has depicted the concurrent rise of the anti-Christ and one-world government, which he links to a coalition of despised groups whom he accuses of rejecting Godóliberals, socialists, environmentalists and atheists.