Christian Nationalism

I frequently inveigh against Christian Nationalism without explaining exactly what it is. In the wake of Marjorie Taylor Green’s recent declaration identifying herself as a Christian Nationalist, I decided I should be more explicit about what that label means–because it doesn’t simply indicate a religious identity.

As the Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty recently wrote,

Christian nationalism is a political ideology and cultural framework that merges Christian and American identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s promise of religious freedom. It relies heavily on a false narrative of America as a “Christian nation,” founded by Christians in order to privilege Christianity. This mythical history betrays the work of the framers to create a federal government that would remain neutral when it comes to religion, neither promoting nor denigrating it — a deliberate break with the state-established religions of the colonies.

Though not new, Christian nationalism has been exploited in recent years by politicians like former President Donald Trump to further an “us vs. them” mentality and send a message that only Christians can be “real” Americans.

An article in The Week pointed to the substantial role played by Christian Nationalists in the insurrection on January 6th. As one observer reported  “Crosses were everywhere that day in D.C., on flags and flagpoles, on signs and clothes, around necks, and erected above the crowd,”  Bible verses were plentiful in the crowd, and a number of rioters actually paused for prayer during the attack. One rioter recorded herself justifying her participation by saying  “We are a godly country, and we are founded on godly principles. And if we do not have our country, nothing else matters.”

A 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center identified 77 percent of Republican respondents as “church-state integrationists” who hold a variety of views “consistent” with Christian nationalism. That might be overstating things somewhat. A 2017 survey found that one-in-five Americans hold such views. The scholars at Political Behavior found that “support for the Capitol attacks is a minority position among any slice of the American religious landscape.” But they also noted that 17.7 percent “of white weekly churchgoers fall into the joint top quartile of justification of violence, Christian nationalist beliefs, perceived victimhood, white identity, and support for QAnon.” That percentage — while relatively small — “would represent millions of individuals.”

The article noted that Christian Nationalism is gaining an “increasing foothold ” in Republican politics. Greene and  Boebert are two of the more explicit proponents of Christian nationalism, but less well known members of the party are also adherents. “Doug Mastriano — a former Army officer who chartered buses to ferry protesters to Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, and who has declared the separation of church and state a “myth” —  is the GOP nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, and is now running a close race with his Democratic opponent.”

What is truly terrifying is that Christian Nationalism is being normalized. Republicans who shared the ideology  but previously denied the label are increasingly willing to admit to it: as the linked article notes, ” Marjorie Taylor Greene might have made news by openly embracing the term, but she might not be that unusual.”

As the Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty wrote,

I care about dismantling Christian nationalism both because I’m a practicing Christian and because I’m a patriotic American — and no, those identities are not the same. As Christians, we can’t allow Greene, Boebert or Trump to distort our faith without a fight.

We must speak loudly when our faith is used as a political tool, we must uproot it from our own churches and communities and we must form alliances with religious minorities and the nonreligious — who suffer the impact of Christian nationalism the most.

Religion, and Christianity in particular, has flourished in America not because of government aid or favoritism, but for the opposite reason: religion’s freedom from government control. Government involvement in religious affairs doesn’t aid the free exercise of religion. And as Christians, we are called to love our neighbors rather than make them feel unwelcome in their own country…

Christian lawmakers don’t need to erase their faith from politics. My fellow Baptist, Georgia Democrat Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock, has modeled what it looks like for a pastor to serve in Congress without insisting on a privileged place for Christianity in law and society….

It’s not just Christian political leaders that need to do better, it’s all of us. Earlier this summer, I joined a group of prominent Christian leaders in launching the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign. More than 25,000 Christians have joined the campaign as we seek to elevate an alternative Christian public witness.

The Christian Nationalist takeover of one of America’s major political parties poses an enormous threat to us all.

 

 

 

17 thoughts on “Christian Nationalism

  1. This “movement” is scary enough, but add to it a person who claims his deity talks to him about politics. That person ran for U.S. House in 2020 and has remained active politically. It’s not a giant leap from the deity expressing political views to a person to that person claiming the deity has ordered people to do something.

  2. Like I said yesterday, the and Nationalist Christians, Nat C s for short ( say it quickly, Nat C). tip of the hat to Jim Wright @ Stonehkettle station.

  3. “The Christian Nationalist takeover of one of America’s major political parties poses an enormous threat to us all.”

    Sheila’s ending sentence above says it all; we who are thinking Americans and paying attention know Christian Nationalist means White Nationalist and has nothing to do with Christianity or Nationalism or their true meanings.

  4. I call them Christian Taliban but that’s just me coming as a former Catholic.

  5. Without calling it Christian Nationalism the State of Indiana has practiced this political ideology for years. Vouchers anyone? Or abortion rights? Or defunding Planned Parenthood?

  6. Since they also see themselves as victims, does that make their Crosses twisted?

    If you’ve noticed, many of the symbols used by the Ukrainian soldiers are swastikas. Coincidence?

  7. I love “Nat. C”! Perfect! When I was a student at Union Theological Seminary NY in the mid-70s, we read the Barmen Declaration of 1934, denouncing Nazism. A small group of German Christian leaders tried to resist, but too few. The Declaration insists that the Bible is the only sure truth vs. the Christian Nationalists. When I read that I immediately thought NO! Nazism in America will be shored up by Bible-weaponizing Christians! Wow is it an odd feeling to see that flash of insight unfolding in real time. Scary.
    Btw, Union Seminary is known as “the leading edge of progressive Christianity” and Rafael Warnock is a proud grad- having earned his Ph.D. from Black Theology founder James Cone. Union is now multifaith – one of the stars of PBS’ Muslim Road Trip Across America is an alum.

  8. One GWB said, in the run-up to the 2020 election, that he knew that his god-thing wanted him to be president. He might
    have said that he was told that by that god-thing, but the inference is clear. Pence has said that he talks with his god-thing,
    I believe.
    Falwell’s Liberty University LAW School teaches the myth of the founders’ Christian intentions.
    Mastriano’s behavior has been anything but Christian.
    Trump, of course, will grab onto anything that might allow for more, or better, manipulation of any group.
    And, Greene, or Boebert’s approval of any perspective is diagnostic!

  9. Through the centuries, religion has been used by charlatans to convince people to abandon common sense and principles to fight their wars, condemn their enemies, and do the most ungodly things imaginable to “others.” If you believe that you are carrying out God’s plan, you don’t have to take responsibility for whatever you do.

  10. Yes. Great comments already. Nat-C = perfect. White Nats = buggy whips. Christian Taliban? Perfect description.

    Once again religious extremism comes to the rescue of harmony amongst an ignorant populace. How do we get that population to be not ignorant and therefore more inclined toward harmony? EDUCATE THEM IN THE TRUTH, that’s how. When you see your local Republican dumping on school teachers and public education, you’ll know what to do. They are the seeds of discord. Vote them all out. I do understand that in Indiana rational people in government is a rare thing and the truth is handicapped by backwardness and false pride, but Indiana is, by far, not alone. Try thinking rationally in Texas. Not gonna happen.

  11. People who feel superior and therefore entitled have many choices to assert their entitlements. By race, religion, political party, state, and profession, to name a few.

  12. In the ninth century, the Buddhist sage Lin Chi told a monk, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

    Someone once said of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority”: “They are neither.”

    Thanks, Aging Girl, Peggy H., JoAnn, et al.

    One of my favorite bumper stickers: “Please Lord, save me from your followers!”

  13. Wait until they “win” and start the fighting over which KIND of “Christianity” is the right kind …

  14. Religion has been in bed with secular authorities forever. Since Emperor Constantine Christianity has been the state religion in various forms for much of Europe. Given Christianity’s 1700 years history of sharing power structures with the political elite and bending their philosophy to serve governmental needs, it is little wonder that they feel the need to recapture the glory days when priests told kings what to do. They had the power to influence kings and control the general populace and that’s what they want, again.

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