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The New Dominionism Tries to Rule

Dutch Sheets, Lance Wallnau, Mario Murillo and Hank Kunneman are four of the most influential Christian leaders in the U.S. Yet most people have probably never heard of them. As leaders of a Christian supremacist movement, they decreed publicly in 2022 that they have the God-given right to rule the United States and that they “have been given legal power and authority from Heaven.” These far-right figures claim to be “God’s ambassadors and spokespeople over the earth” who “are equipped and delegated by Him to destroy every attempted advance of the enemy.”

These men who made what is known as the “Watchmen Decree” are among the leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a new and powerful Christian supremacy movement that is attempting to transform culture and politics in the U.S. and countries across the world into a grim authoritarianism. NAR adheres to dominionism, which Frederick Clarkson of Political Research Associates defines as “the theocratic idea that Christians are called by God to exercise dominion over every aspect of society by taking control of political and cultural institutions.” Dominionism has long been a driver of antigovernment extremism in the United States. NAR is the latest chapter, and possibly the most successful, in dominionists’ modern effort to make their reading of Christianity authoritative and supreme in everyone’s lives.

Over the past two decades, NAR’s influence has broadened beyond church walls, pouring out this form of Christian supremacy into the mainstream, already wreaking havoc on local communities and our democracy. Their influence is real; not only did they have a voice in the Trump administration, but the new speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, is closely aligned with NAR leaders. The goal of this new dominionism is to disrupt both more mainline versions of Christianity and U.S. democracy, and in its wake, take control of state and society and yoke everyone to their authoritarian vision of the world.

The New Apostolic Reformation

Dominionism originated on the fringes of Reformed Christianity largely through the writing of R.J. Rushdoony and his Christian Reconstruction movement. The new brand of dominionism took the idea of Christian supremacy from such theologians as Rushdoony and rooted it in the soil of independent charismatic and Pentecostal churches, one of the newest and fastest growing branches of Christianity. And while Rushdoony believed the United States would incrementally be reconstructed into a Christian nation, leaders of the new dominionism are not so patient. NAR adherents believe their time is now.


As the Watchman Decree suggests, it is more helpful to understand NAR as a political movement driven by what NAR expert André Gagné refers to as a “political theology of power.” The goal of NAR is not saving souls one at a time. Instead, these extremist leaders state a desire to seize influence over the entire culture and implement their narrow, authoritarian views of the Bible in the form of law, policy and culture. Prophet Lance Wallnau has promoted a meme – the Seven Mountains Mandate — to summarize this goal. Each mountain is a sphere of our society — government, religion, media, business, education, family, and arts and entertainment — and each should be dominated by NAR leaders and followers, according to the meme.

NAR’s goal is to disrupt religion and politics, and in the wake of that disruption, fill the void with Christian supremacy. Just as there has been economic disruption over the past two decades, there has also been political disruption in the form of Trumpian politics and the MAGA movement. NAR, in addition to political disruption, aims to disrupt Christianity itself by getting rid of denominations and checks and balances created to curb abuse. Some NAR pastors have taken over churches with internal democratic practices and turned them into undemocratic “apostolic” centers where only the pastor — or, where there is one, an apostle — has ultimate authority.

Dominionist leaders such as this are often vague about the details of how the future looks in practice, but the antidemocracy and exclusionary implications are clear. Lance Wallnau has argued that dominionists have to “destroy the public education system before it destroys us.” Others have set their sights on local government. City Elders, a new organization that details plans to create guardians over politics, elections and culture in every county, would essentially act as a local shadow government. LGBTQ+ equality is also a frequent target of dominionists. Sean Feucht, a highly influential musician and praise leader, has called trans persons demonic, highlighting the negative impact on the future of LGBTQ+ peoples liberation.

NAR is deeply anti-democratic, both as a movement and in its vision of society. C. Peter Wagner, who came up with the term New Apostolic Reformation, preached: “What dominion means is that we are the head and not the tail of our society. It’s a rulership and we rule as kings.” This is a menacing statement for a country that fought a revolution to overthrow kingship. Their vision, if realized, would mark the end of the American democratic experiment.

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‘The Big Lie’ and Insurrection

Today’s political dominionism goes hand in hand with nationalism and NAR leadership often seeks to do away with both Christian and political institutions that could hold them accountable. NAR leaders have been among the most faithful backers of Donald Trump, so much so that some have grown worried about the many failed pro-Trump prophecies other NAR leaders have made. Trump is viewed by some in the NAR as “God’s chaos candidate” who will disrupt politics enough to transform the United States into a dominionist country. This is a reference in the Bible to the God of the Jews. NAR’s comparison to Trump means he is viewed as a God.

For many NAR leaders, Christians must implement God’s will within politics; the divine will not do it alone. For example, Dutch Sheets and Lance Wallnau started a campaign to undo Trump’s defeat. Sheets used a daily devotional app he ran to rile up his members and promote the lie of Trump’s reelection and launched a “prayer and prophecy” tour after President Biden’s election. NAR prayer groups were mobilized at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as well as supporting prayer teams all over the country, to exorcise the demonic influence over the Capitol that adherents said was keeping Trump from his rightful, prophesized second term.

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Opponents are ‘Demonic’

Demons and demonic influence, as well as “spiritual warfare,” are central to NAR belief and practice, and those who do not prescribe to their views are seen as possessed or under demonic influence. There are claims that whole neighborhoods, cities, even nations are under the sway of the demonic. Other religions, such as Islam, are also said to be demonically influenced. One cannot compromise with evil, and so if Democrats, liberals, LGBTQ+ people, and others are seen as demonic, political compromise — the heart of democratic life — becomes difficult if not impossible.

This use of the demonic in politics has spread beyond NAR and has been taken up by none other than Donald Trump, who, at a Family Research Council conference in 2023 referred not only to “Marxists” and “atheists,” but included them as part of the “evil demonic forces that want to destroy our country.” Such dehumanization has been a key element in political violence, and even genocide, throughout the twentieth century.

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NAR is the greatest threat to U.S. democracy that you have never heard of. It is already a powerful, wealthy and influential movement and composes a highly influential block of one of the two main political parties in the country. So few people have heard of NAR that it is possible that, without resistance in our local communities, dominionism might win without ever having been truly opposed.

Illustration by Emmanuel Polanco

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