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Southern Poverty Law Center Compares Conservative Christians Like Ted Cruz to ISIS

On Tuesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) launched the first in a series of articles about "Hate In God's Name," an examination of what it calls "Dominionism," a Christian ideology which inspires terrorism as deadly as the radical Islamic terrorism of the Islamic State (ISIS). While the SPLC article focused on groups responsible for domestic terrorism, it warned that this Christian ideology is widespread, and linked to a source which used Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as the key example of Dominionism.

"Much like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, right-wing terrorists — who often refer to themselves as "Soldiers of Odin," "Phineas Priests," or "Army of God" — are inspired by their interpretations of religious concepts and scripture to lash out and kill in God's name," the SPLC's Daryl Johnson wrote.

Johnson discussed FBI standoffs with extremist groups like the white supremacist Covenant, Sword, and Army of the Lord (CSA) in 1985, the armed white supremacist at Ruby Ridge in 1992, and the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas in 1993. Were Johnson merely discussing such extremist groups, his article might have been revealing and unproblematic. But he did not stop there.

"According to Frederick Clarkson, a Senior Fellow at Political Research Associates, 'Dominionism is the theocratic idea that regardless of theological camp, means, or timetable, God has called conservative Christians to exercise dominion over society by taking control of political and cultural institutions.' This is similar to fears over Muslim extremists attempting to invoke Sharia Law in America," Johnson wrote.

In that very article Johnson cited (published by Political Research Associates, a group whose tagline is "challenging the right, advancing social justice"), Frederick Clarkson pointed to Ted Cruz as the predominant example of "Dominionism."

"The son of a Cuban refugee and evangelical pastor, Cruz was raised in the kind of evangelicalism-with-a-theocratic-bent that has come to epitomize a significant and growing trend in American public life," Clarkson wrote. He warned that Dominionism "arose from the swirls and eddies of American evangelicalism to animate the Christian Right."

According to Johnson at the SPLC, "Dominion theology calls for Christians to assert God's dominion over all mankind, including their communities, secular politics and American society to achieve the fulfillment of their Messianic expectations — to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ."

In some isolated cases, as with the Branch Davidians, this is partially true. The link to Ted Cruz is a rather large stretch, however — and Johnson does nothing to alert the reader that Clarkson's message about Cruz is a stretch.

Johnson also quoted Genesis 1:26-31, where God directs Adam and Eve to "fill the Earth and subdue it," as a scriptural basis for Dominionism. He added, "Dominion theory teaches that Jesus has commanded his followers to begin building the Kingdom of God in modern day, by incorporating the doctrine and principles of the Christian faith into the political establishment with the ultimate goal of creating a Christian nation."