"Dominionism" is a term that is used by some people to describe the idea that some Christians believe that governance should be done by Christians and should be based on Christian principles. This term is used almost exclusively by other people, especially critics, to describe this opinion, rather than being used by Christians who have this opinion. The term is based on a Biblical passage in Genesis, which says that God gave mankind dominion over "all the earth" and "every living thing." The use of this term has been controversial, with some people arguing that it is used to mischaracterize some Christian viewpoints.
There are several ideas that fall under the heading of dominionism, and they are said to be held mainly by conservative Christians, who might also be described as members of the Christian right. The precise definition of "dominionism" can vary, because those who are said to be dominionists typically do not use the term, so certain ideas might be included or excluded from the definition, depending on its usage and purpose. A few examples of what might be considered dominionism include the following:
- 1. Governance ought to be based on Christian principles.
2. The laws of the land should reflect the Christian heritage of the nation, particularly when the term is used in reference to the United States.
3. Government should prefer Christianity over other religions.
4. Complete separation of church and state is anti-religious.
5. Society should be based on Christian thought and philosophy.
To many Americans, applications of these or other Christian principles would be counter to the notion that separation between church and state is important. A strict expression of dominionism would seem to discriminate against non-Christians — or, in some cases, even people of certain Christian sects. Some people fear that the practice of dominionism would result in the creation of a theocratic state. Others claim that extreme dominionism would result in violence and oppression against non-Christians.
Many Christians and even some political analysts, however, argue that "dominionism" is a term that was created by opponents of Christianity simply to provoke fear among non-Christians. They claim that the ideas attributed to dominionists exaggerate certain Christian or religious viewpoints or take them to the extremes. For example, some people argue that a preference for Christian political candidates does not mean that only Christians should be allowed to hold government offices. Likewise, they claim that most Christians would defend freedom of religion for people of all faiths. Such differences of opinion and the fact that there is no movement that claims to be be dominionist are among the reasons why the use of this term has been controversial.