I used to be a dominionist without even knowing it.


I’ve written about dominionist Christianity extensively, so I won’t describe it at length here.  One of the most toxic and abusive doctrines of dominionism is that if you are vulnerable in any way — if you are poor, sick, disabled, mentally ill, or even a person of color (in dominionist doctrine, people of color are believed to be derived from the line of Ham, the son of Cain, who was Adam and Eve’s “bad” son — in the past this has been used as “biblical” justification of slavery) — these are all indications of God’s disfavor and people “afflicted” with these things deserve their lot.   In contrast, God’s favored people are always rewarded with great wealth, perfect health, and no disabilities.  They are also usually white and Republican.  This is why dominionist Christians feel no obligation to show compassion toward the sick, poor and disabled (as Christ would do) — because to help them would be to go against God’s will.   It’s also why they seem to think unlimited power and greed (and oppression of others) is perfectly moral.

But getting back to myself.  While I was never a dominionist Christian or even a conservative evangelical, my attitude in the past toward myself was a very negative, self punishing one.   I always had at least a nominal faith in God, but I truly believed he disliked me and my terrible luck, my bad relationships, my inability to form close relationships, my emotionally abusive family, and my poverty were all punishments God was inflicting on me because he hated me.    I looked at others and saw how fortunate they were (or at least seemed to be) and felt like God must like them much better.  Sometimes I thought God only put me on earth as an example to others of what not to be.

This made me feel completely worthless and made me want to hide in shame from the world.   It made me painfully shy, which only exacerbated my problems meeting people and socializing.    In my recovery from narcissistic abuse, I realized this negative, self defeating narrative was self inflicted due to internalizing abuse inflicted on me when I was young.   I began to realize that I had good qualities and never had the chance to develop them.

I like myself now.  No, I’m not living my “dream life” (that would involve traveling all over the world and writing bestselling books) and I will probably never have a high powered, high paying career at my age.  I probably won’t ever achieve all my dreams, but really, who does?   I’m still on the lower end of the income scale, but I wouldn’t say I’m impoverished anymore.   I have enough money to be comfortable and even buy a few luxuries (like occasional inexpensive vacations, beach trips, new books, the occasional dinner out, and nice clothing).

I’m still alone (not in a relationship), and even though sometimes that’s lonely and I even occasionally feel sorry for myself, I also know I prefer things that way for now.  I’m still working on myself, trying to find out more about me and what God wants for me (and what I want for myself).

I feel fortunate to have two wonderful adult children, both of whom I have a great relationship with, and three awesome cats.   I also live in a beautiful part of the country, with endless opportunities for photo taking and just enjoying the natural world.  Not everyone is so fortunate to have that.

Recovery from narcissistic abuse coupled with reframing God as a benevolent and loving Father who wants all his children to be happy and healthy rather than as a punishing and hateful bully who favors some of his children over others (and rewards them primarily with wealth and material abundance) has made all the difference.

I think this is why I find Christian dominionism so triggering and scary.  Not just because it’s become a real threat to our basic freedoms and rights, but because it’s a toxic, abusive, and hateful belief in an avenging, constantly angry, narcissistic God who likes to bully and punish the most vulnerable.  That sort of God, to me, is as bad as the devil.   I think that God was made in his narcissistic control freak human makers’ own image.

I’m so glad I don’t believe in that God anymore.


18 thoughts on “I used to be a dominionist without even knowing it.

  1. Jesus in the Bible was always hanging with the underdog. How anyone can think he isn’t compassionate is beyond me. Blessed are the poor in spirit.. Right? It was growing up with a Narc mom that gave you those issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The funny thing was, my parents weren’t religious at all! But they were still narcs and authoritarian in the way I was raised. They also subscribed to the Ayn Randish idea that the poor, sick etc. are that way because of their own failings. My dad was a staunch Republican and was also active in New Thought, which teaches you are responsible for your own destiny and whatever happens to you. Before that, he was in Christian Science, which believes in mind over matter (if you’re sick it’s all in your head). So, yeah. That blame the victim for their own failings kind of mindset was ingrained into me at an early age. I always felt rebellious against it, but sort of believed it too, and I believed I must be doing everything wrong and was too weak to earn God’s or anyone’s love.


      • Your experience has similar to my own. My family went to a Science of Mind church when I was a young child. But I mostly grew up in the New Thought Unity church.

        My parents, although conservative Republicans, were much more moderate (my dad does have a bit of that edge of economic conservatism, if not to the point of being an Objectivist). And my experience of New Thought was reasonably positive.

        Still, as an adult, I’ve come to realize the psychological oppressiveness that became internalized because of New Thought theology. It has been a major factor in my decades of struggling with depression.

        Liked by 1 person

        • My mother was always a liberal and not really a church goer. It was my dad who dabbled in various religions, mostly the New Thought and Science of Mind type, but he also dabbled in Unity for a short time, which he found too “soft.” My mother liked Unity though, and used to get their little magazines in the mail.


          • I must admit that I still have fond memories of the Youth of Unity camps. You have no idea what touchy-feely can be like if you didn’t grow up in something like Unity or else a hippy commune. For all the problems of that tradition, it demonstrated to me that people were capable of being genuinely kind and caring toward one another. Returning to the normal world after those camps was a shock to the system.

            BTW have you watched the tv show The Path. It’s about a new agey cult. It’s an interesting portrayal of religion and does bring in the positive thinking angle. In one of the later episodes, the son of the new leader falls in love with the son of a fundy preacher. In trying to help him, he seeks out a Christian church where his lover could attend without being judged for being gay. The church he goes to is a Unity church.


            Also, have you seen the Netflix movie Come Sunday? It’s about the career of Evangelist Carlton Pearson. He goes from being a hate-and-fear-filled fundy to embracing the view of a loving god, which for him meant aligning with New Thought and Unitarian-Universalism. For people like that, the idea of a loving god can be transformative in a positive way.

            Even as the extreme ideal of absolute divine love casts a dark shadow, I can’t dismiss the genuine good I did learn from having been raised with that belief. It makes for an easier transition to agnosticism or atheism. Because of how I was raised, I never feared God or Hell. Even the idea of sin was simply not a part of the world I knew. If a kid is going to be raised by conservatives in a Christian church, there are far worse options than Unity.

            Still, the idealism of it is ultimately inhuman. The gnostic-like quality of a fallen world, no matter how it is dressed up in nice-sounding rhetoric, is in the end not inspiring and hopeful. It puts an immense weight on the individual.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I agree with you. I do think some of these modern new agey religions have their plus side, and I also thin k positive thinking is a good thing for the most part. The problem comes when it’s not balanced with realism or when realism is dismissed as negativity. That’s when emotional blindness and lack of empathy develop. But positive thinking certainly beats negative thinking.

              Liked by 1 person

      • The other context is that, when I was a kid, my parents were going through a liberal phase. It was my grandmother, in her own post-divorce liberal phase, moving to the East Coast who introduced my parents to new agey religion. And all of the churches we attended were quite liberal (e.g., Unity Church has been doing same sex marriage ceremonies for at least decades).

        So, my own liberal tendencies were shaped by New Thought and those who attended. Unity was a very touchy-feely church. I was taught to be a good liberal and a sensitive male. I was surrounded by social liberalism to the extreme, although it didn’t seem overly aligned with overt political activism. There was a religious quietism about it, each to their own. It was Protestant individualism pushed to its furthest extent, which I now realize creates an alienated experience of the world.

        Yet it also demonstrated to me that there is a strong conservative-minded component to many liberals. A new agey liberal subtly blaming others because of negative thinking or “soul contracts” or whatever is essentially no different than the conservative version of the same attitude. That conservative element in seemingly liberal religion I’m sure is part of what attracted my conservative parents.

        As further context, there is the weird angle of Donald Trump’s upbringing in prosperity gospel. His family minister was Norman Vincent Peale who officiated all of his marriages. My dad was also highly influenced by Peale. It might be noted that, like Trump, my dad worked in the business world (first as a factory manager and then as a business management professor). Thomas Frank made an observation about this — from What’s the Matter with Kansas?:

        (Kindle Locations 1998-2013):

        “Today bitter self-made men—and their doppelgängers, the bitter but not quite as well-to-do men—are all over the place. They have their own cable news network and their own TV personalities. They can turn to nearly any station on the AM dial to hear their views confirmed. They have their own e-mail bulletin boards, on which you can find hundreds of thousands of them plen-T-plaining about this outrage and that, from the national to the local. And although they like to fancy themselves rugged individualists (better yet, the last of the rugged individualists), what they really are is a personality type that our society generates so predictably and in such great numbers that they almost constitute a viable market segment all on their own.

        “One more thing about the backlash personality type: every single one of the bitter self-made men of my youth was a believer in the power of positive thinking. If you just had a sunny disposish and kept everlastingly at it, they thought, you were bound to succeed. The contradiction between their professed positiveness and their actual negativity about nearly everything never seemed to occur to them. On the contrary; they would oscillate from the one to the other as though the two naturally complemented each other, giving me advice on keeping a positive mental outlook even while raging against the environmentalist bumper stickers on other people’s cars or scoffing at Kansas City’s latest plan for improving its schools. The world’s failure to live up to the impossible promises of the positive-thinking credo did not convince these men of the credo’s impracticality, but rather that the world was in a sad state of decline, that it had forsaken the true and correct path.2 It was as though the fair-play lessons of Jack Armstrong, Frank Merriwell, and the other heroes of their prewar boyhood had congealed quite naturally into the world bitterness of their present-day heroes, Charles Bronson, Dirty Harry, Gordon Liddy, and the tax rebel Howard Jarvis.”

        (Note 2. “In The Positive Thinkers, Donald Meyer comments extensively on positive thinking’s understanding of the business civilization and extreme laissez-faire economics as the way of nature. (See in particular chap. 8.) As for its politics, Meyer points out that Norman Vincent Peale, the movement’s greatest celebrity preacher, dabbled in right-wing Republicanism, and a famous positive-thinking Congregationalist church in California embraced the John Birch Society. It is possible that the universal embrace of positive thinking by the bitter self-made men of my youth was a geographic coincidence, since Kansas City is home to one of the great powers of the positive-thinking world, the Unity Church. But I am inclined to think not. Positive thinking is today a nearly universal aspect of liberal Protestantism, traces of it appearing in the speeches of Ronald Reagan and the self-help entertainment of Oprah Winfrey.” [Kindle Locations 4350-4357])


        Liked by 1 person

        • I have written several posts about the problems of the positive thinking movement(s). You can use the search bar to look for them if you wish.

          I appreciate you sharing your knowledge in the comments here. Interesting food for thought! I do think there’s something very uniquely American about the whole positive thinking/prosperity gospel/New Thought religious mindset, and the thread running through all of them is American individualism, the idea that we are all capable of doing anything without any help from anyone. The American idea is that needing/asking for help is weak and even sinful. That needs to change. We all need each other. It fosters empathy and altruism, something that is in very short supply in America, and now we are reaping the ugly harvest of such selfishness. I hope it isn’t too late for us to learn a different way.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’ve read quite a bit of your earlier posts. But I don’t recall offhand which posts about positive thinking I may have seen. I’ll do some searches.

            Have you read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided? It’s a good book that touches upon these issues. She shows how positive thinking has become enmeshed in so much of the healthcare, specifically cancer treatment, maybe because of how desperate people become. The consequence of positive thinking is how the patient can feel like they are being blamed for being and remaining sick.

            The same grandmother that introduced my parents to new agey religion was into alternative healing. When she got cancer, she refused conventional treatment. Instead, she used spiritual mind treatments form Science of MInd and macrobiotics. She didn’t last long before the cancer killed her. But before she died, her heart was broken because up to that point she had total faith that positive thinking would save her.

            I went down a similar path with depression. I kept blaming myself and kept thinking that I had to save myself. I’ve always been into alternative health and went to alternative health practitioners. It’s not that I didn’t also go to psychiatrists and psychotherapists, but nothing seemed to help my depression. Eventually, I learned that the best response was acceptance, which first and foremost meant realizing that the problems of depression go far beyond me as an individual (considering rates of depression have been increasing all across the US and similar countries).

            I still have depression. But it no longer rules me in the same way as it once did. I’ve come to the point where I don’t see it as defining me. I can now go periods of time where I don’t think about it, a major achievement.


            • I am so sorry about your grandmother. I think these types of religions (or philosophies?) can be be dangerous because they cause people to think seeking medical treatment is a sign of weakness (the power of their own mind should be able to heal them). I think snake handling of the type you see in some backwoods fundamentalist churches has the same idea behind it: if your faith is strong enough, you will not be hurt if the snake bites you (or it won’t bite you). Dominionism works much the same way: if you’re sick, it’s God’s punishment because your faith is too weak. Mike Pence believes this. He says the poor shouldn’t have healthcare because they need to learn to have more faith in God. WTF?

              I’m sorry you still suffer from depression, but it’s good you have found some coping tools that make it easier to deal with.

              Liked by 1 person

      • That is the odd thing about New Thought, Prosperity Gospel, etc. It so easily crosses the liberal-conservative divide. That is because, especially in the US, hyper-individualism and materialism defines the entirety of mainstream thought. So, it should be unsurprising that fans of Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, and Joel Osteen are found on both the left and right. The shadow of this cultural mindset is as you describe.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you don’t believe in that abusive parent sort of “God” anymore too. I had the good luck to be raised (whatever their other limitations may have been) by two New Deal Democrats, whose first Presidential vote was for FDR. They were also not religious and imposed no indoctrination about God, or for or against religion in general. A long-time friend of my father here in Highlands, an Episcopal minister and a lovely and gentle man, used to refer fondly to my Dad as his “favorite atheist.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear LuckyOtter and Friends, it’s the dominion mindset that, for decades, had kept me steering clear of churches, the Scriptures, Christ. These so-called churches talk a lot about reading the Bible, but they gloss over so much. Boy o boy, they love to point out other people’s sins (drinking, rock music, fornication…) while forgetting their own (greed, pride, lying, cheating the irs….). But the good news is: there are for-real churches, (though few and farbetween) and for-real Christians who struggle to take the Word seriously.

    It’s the fakey ones who go around acting all goody goody, praisey praisey. And they can be so convincing. Book of Jude and 2nd Peter calls ’em on their fakery.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.