Vision Forum, Militias, Dominionism, and Weaponry

A reader left the following comment on my post on Vision Forum and gender roles:

My goodness, the almost single-minded emphasis on violence in the boys’ toys is seriously disturbing!

That emphasis is not accidental. Christian Patriarchy organization Vision Forum uses the term “dominion” without any intended irony, and it’s not the only leading organization in the Christian Patriarchy movement to be so focused on weapons and military training. Here’s a paragarph from an article Doug Wilson posted last week:

One other thing, slopping over into Second Amendment issues. I do not say this in any rah rah support of whatever our government might do with its drones. One of the reasons why I think the Second Amendment needs to be understood as applying to more than hunting rifles — to things like shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles — is that we are going to need something to shoot down the government drones.

This is exactly what I was taught growing up. I was taught that things like the assault weapons ban were wrong because we needed to be able to own things like machine guns and tanks so that we could fight back against government tyranny. This future battle was not merely hypothetical. We believed it was coming. Dad didn’t teach us kids to shoot because we were a hunting family. We weren’t.

I was taught that the second amendment was put in place so that the people could be armed against potential government tyranny. The idea was that if the people are all armed to the teeth, the government can’t pull a fast one and take away their rights. It can’t do that because if it does, the people will fight back. Therefore, it is critically necessary that the people be able to own the same kinds of weapons that the army owns, so that it can actually effectively fight back. If the army has drones but the people don’t, well, that’s a recipe for complete and total tyranny.

But now, as I look up the second amendment for this post, I can’t understand how in the world anyone actually gets that idea out of it.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Now I’m no constitutional scholar, but that sounds like it’s saying that the people should have guns because they might be called up to defend the nation against foreign intruder. It’s important to remember that at the time this amendment was put into place, we did not have a standing army. Instead, if there was a threat to the nation the local people were called up to fight. And in this situation, it was pretty important that they have guns. In fact, when Andrew Jackson called up recruits during the War of 1812, many of them had no guns, and that angered him very much. And you really didn’t want to anger Andrew Jackson.

But all of that is neither here nor there. What is important here is that some portion of Americans believe that government tyranny – in the form of regulations – is becoming untenable, and that it might become so bad that an armed revolution is necessary to protect the people’s rights. Because of this possibility of impending revolution, it’s important to own guns, and not just handguns and rifles either.

The fascinating part is tracing all of the connections that go on here. Remember the militia movement of the 1990s? I’m not sure how direct the links, but the rhetoric of the militia movement has infused some sections of evangelicalism and fundamentalism, and, most especially, the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements. This idea that the federal government has become/is becoming tyrannical, the belief in a remnant of true Americans who will need to rise up against the government, the fascination with military and weaponry, it’s all there. I mean my goodness, Bill Gothard runs his own boot camp.

Perhaps most fascinating of all is that this militia/dominion culture crosses the premillenialist/postmillenialist divide. What I mean is this: Some evangelicals and fundamentalists believe that the world will end with the rapture of all true believers, a seven-year tribulation, and the return of Christ while others believe that Christ will not return until the whole world has been evangelized and brought in tune with what the Bible says. It would seem that those who believe that the world must become a sort of theocracy before Christ returns would be more interested in guns and military than those who believe that the believers will be raptured at any time, but this isn’t actually the case. The militia/dominion interest in weaponry and military is present in both groups.

But of all the organizations involved in the Christian Patriarchy, that Vision Forum would embrace a military culture is perhaps the least surprising. Vision Forum, after all, is one of the few that openly and without concern speaks in the language of dominion and conquest. I do want to be clear about something, though. The number of families that buys everything Vision Forum teaches, or everything Doug Wilson or Bill Gothard or any other leader in the Christian Patriarchy movement teaches, is not all that large, and one thing I am noticing more and more is the attrition rate in the second generation. These are ideas to be aware of and oppose, but I don’t want you to get the idea that we’re facing some sort of imminent dominionist revolution. We’re not.

What Courtship Was for Me
Fifty Shades of Evangelical Justifications for Patriarchy
When Men Wax Poetic about My Womb
The Cold, Unforgiving World of Geoffrey Botkin
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • MM

    I don’t get it…if the US is the Shining City on a Hill and Manifest Destiny is true and we’re the key to bringing about the second coming (through support of Israel), then why would Christians have any reason to believe that the US government is on its way to becoming Nazi Germany or whatever? If the US is so great and God is in control, we shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

    • plch

      moreover since most of those people seems to be really pro-army, respect our soldiers that are dying for our freedom, etc. kind … and then you get ready to combat the same army?

      • travis

        When a corrupt and tyrant government takes control and uses the people who are soldiers to do harm against its own citzens weither it be homeland security or fbi or cia or the military or whatever agency they think they need to create to protect you then what should the people do? Do you think that these solders and law enforcement people are being a little bit brainwashed maybe to do what they do , drilled to the point where they woudlnt question a command they get. So why did america invade and bomb over like 50 countries since world war 2? I love the american peopel good people. My 5th great grandfather gasper potterf fought under washington during the revolutionary war among other great commanders. My 5th great grandfather was at Valley Forge and was present standing guard at the surrender of cornwallis. All i have to say is that the government was ment to be for the people run by the people and when you have these now rock star presedents larger then life personalities brainwashing the nation in an imaginry la la land of a soceity that has been created for people to feel comfortable and protected all the time. WAKE THE F UP, YOUR MENT TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND TAKE CARE OF EACHOTHER. YOU DONT NEED 50 AGENCIES FOR PUBLIC PROTECTION, TAKE IT BACK UPON YOURSELFS TO HAVE A COUNTRY THATS RUN BY YOUR BRAINS NOT YOUR MOUTHS. IF EVERYBOADY DIDINT GO TO WORK FRIDAY YOUD SEE THESE PEOPLE QUAKE IN THE BOOTS. DONT BE DIVIDED. THE OTHER SIDE ISNT. LOOK AT THE TWO SIDES SHAKE HANDS BUDDY BUDDY THEY ARE ALL RELATED BEHIND YOUR BACK THEY LAUGH WHILE YOUR FIGHTING WITH YOUR NABOURS AND SPOUSES. PLEASE LOOK TO GOD AND TRUST THAT YOU HAVE THE POWER AND MAKE THE RIGHT CHOCIES AND BE THERE FOR EACHOTHER!

    • The Other Weirdo

      Because Sin and her father, Satan, are ever-present and you must guard yourself day and night to keep yourself pure in the Glowing Eyes of Doom of the Lord! LOL! People who expect signs everywhere see signs in everything.

  • Ole

    Now I’m no constitutional scholar, but that sounds like it’s saying that the people should have guns because they might be called up to defend the nation against foreign intruder. It’s important to remember that at the time this amendment was put into place, we did not have a standing army. Instead, if there was a threat to the nation the local people were called up to fight. And in this situation, it was pretty important that they have guns.

    Implicit in the Second Amendment, I think, is the notion that we should not HAVE a standing army, because standing armies were thought to be inimical to the liberty of the people. The point was not that “the people” be armed so that they could stand up to government tyranny, but that the government should not have a large standing army that it could use to impose tyranny. The distinction is perhaps subtle, but it is important.

    Therefore, it is critically necessary that the people be able to own the same kinds of weapons that the army owns, so that it can actually effectively fight back.

    Actually, the reasoning was more like this: “It is critically necessary that the militia has access to the weapons appropriate for an army, because in time of war the militia will BE the army.” This does not automatically imply a right to personal gun ownership — the weapons owned by the militia could certainly be securely stored in the militia’s own arsenals until they were needed in time of war.

    • smrnda

      The problem with not having a standing army is that you’d be in for some trouble if a nation with a large, massive, industrialized army decided to invade. I know these guys like to see themselves playing Rambo, but there’s a reason why nations have professional armies. It’s the same reason they have professional fire fighters.

      • Ole

        At the present time the United States doesn’t have to worry about being invaded by a nation with a large, massive, industrialized army, given that our only neighbors are Canada and Mexico.

        During the War of 1812 the United States discovered quite another problem with not having a standing army: What do you do if you want to invade someone else? The militia from the New England states refused to invade Canada….

      • smrnda

        True, but I was thinking of something like WWII. The only reason we’re safe from large mechanized armies now is that the only countries that have them have no incentive to cross an ocean to blow us up.

        The war of 1812 is a pretty interesting case though. It’s hard to be an imperialist without a standing army, since mercenaries are very expensive.

  • Twist

    What’s frightening is things like abortion rights and legal gay marriage are perceived as government tyranny and oppression of christians by some. I fear that a situation like that in Norway last year, where someone, armed to the teeth and convinced that his government is out to get him takes out his rage on dozens of innocent kids, could only be waiting to happen.

    I live in the UK. There are very few guns here. Ok, so it isn’t perfect and those with less than pleasant intentions can still end up with firearms but I feel a lot safer knowing that people having paranoid delusions about the government can’t just walk into a shop and buy a gun.

    • Christine

      I feel exactly the same about living in Australia.

    • Rosa

      It happened. Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995. A government center, with a childcare center in it. 168 dead.

      Smaller versions happened all through the ’90s, but like Libby said – it’s winding down.

      Libby Anne, there was a poster at No Longer Quivering telling her life story that had a big Quiverfull/”Patriot” overlap in it. I forget her name (and it was long, and extreme – her husband’s abuse wasn’t dependent on ideology.) but it was pretty instructive on the relationship between the two.

      • Nerdsamwich

        You’ll realize, however, that the Oklahoma City incident didn’t involve a single gun. Timothy McVeigh used an explosive consisting of a truck loaded with agricultural supplies. Agricultural supplies, I might add, that are perfectly legal and easy to obtain even in Australia. If McVeigh had used a gun, the death toll would have been much lower, as evidenced by recent mad-shooter incidents. There was once a saying: There are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous men.

  • JethroElfman

    I guess the post-9/11 terrorism rules are good for something. It keeps these nuts in hiding.

  • Lusy

    The Second Amendment debate is such a scam. You get all these people all worked up about gun regulation, which means they’re too distracted to notice that the media is owned by, like, ten guys. Somehow, people in the US have been convinced that gun ownership is somehow necessary for democracy, even though any dictator worth his salt will tell you that if you’re actually relying on the people not having guns in order to keep control, then you’re doing your job wrong. Real power comes from controlling information.

    • MM

      “When you control the mail, you control….information!”

  • smrnda

    What I don’t get is what tyranny? These jackasses get to enjoy all the coercive control they want over their churches and families, what more do they want?

    Plus, what about the rest of us people who haven’t agreed to live by their rules? I like a lot of things the government does. I voted for a lot of it. So why should these guys and their guns get to impose a government on me (through violence) that I didn’t agree to?

    • The Other Weirdo

      Coercive control is like chocolate. The more of it you have, the more of it you want.