Sometimes, a news article will hit several of my hot buttons. This recent one managed to do so. (Not that it is particularly difficult to piss me off…the older I get, the crankier…)
Here’s the gist of the story: a poll taken by Politico discovered that
about 57 percent of Republicans, and 70 percent of Americans overall, believe the Constitution would not allow America to be declared a “Christian nation.” Respondents were then asked “Would You Favor or Oppose the United States Officially Declaring the United States to be a Christian Nation?”
Sixty-one percent of Republicans were in favor of just that, with 78 percent of Republicans who identify as an evangelical Christian backing the idea. Support was even higher among older Republicans.
Regular readers of this blog know of my preoccupation with America’s low levels of civic and constitutional literacy. These percentages reflect that only 57 percent of Republicans understand–or are prepared to acknowledge– the intended effect of the First Amendment, or the history of America’s constitutional debates.
Then, of course, there’s the little matter of America’s still-pervasive racism. Evidently, there are still a lot of White folks who are dogged believers that the pre-Civil War South should rise again, whether or not it actually will…
Our polling found that white grievance is highly correlated with support for a Christian nation. White respondents who say that members of their race have faced more discrimination than others are most likely to embrace a Christian America. Roughly 59 percent of all Americans who say white people have been discriminated against a lot more in the past five years favor declaring the U.S. a Christian nation, compared to 38 percent of all Americans. White Republicans who said white people have been more discriminated against also favored a Christian nation (65 percent) by a slightly larger percentage than all Republicans (63 percent).
Regular readers are also well aware of my language prejudices; I have this old English-teacher belief that words have meanings, and that communication requires that the people using those words broadly agree upon those meanings.
In any sane world, the assertion that White Americans suffer discrimination would be met with incomprehension. I know that political strategists dislike the contemporary use of the term “privilege”–its users sound elitist, and when one thinks of “privilege,” what comes to mind is unfair advantage. (Actually, White skin does confer advantage, just not the kind of material advantage that this particular word brings to mind.)
The fact remains that, in the good old U.S. of A., what is perceived of as discrimination against White people is a very overdue erosion of the considerably privileged status that skin color has historically afforded them.
When I express my frequent criticisms of Christian Nationalism (which is, in reality, White Christian Nationalism), I try to be very clear that I am not criticizing Christianity. (To appropriate a phrase, some of my best friends are Christian..) I am happy to report that real Christians agree with me, as the following excerpts from a statement from Christians Against Christian Nationalism makes clear.
Christian nationalism seeks to merge Christian and American identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s constitutional democracy. Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian. It often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation. We reject this damaging political ideology and invite our Christian brothers and sisters to join us in opposing this threat to our faith and to our nation.
The statement affirms basic constitutional principles: That “one’s religious affiliation, or lack thereof, should be irrelevant to one’s standing in the civic community,” and that
“government should not prefer one religion over another or religion over nonreligion.” And it affirms others:
Conflating religious authority with political authority is idolatrous and often leads to oppression of minority and other marginalized groups as well as the spiritual impoverishment of religion.
We must stand up to and speak out against Christian nationalism, especially when it inspires acts of violence and intimidation—including vandalism, bomb threats, arson, hate crimes, and attacks on houses of worship—against religious communities at home and abroad.
Whether we worship at a church, mosque, synagogue, or temple, America has no second-class faiths. All are equal under the U.S. Constitution. As Christians, we must speak in one voice condemning Christian nationalism as a distortion of the gospel of Jesus and a threat to American democracy.
So Republicans who want to label America as a “Christian Nation” manage to hit several of my hot buttons: concerns about civic literacy and the normalization of racism, annoyance at the misuse of language, and deep, deep fear of the rise of Christian Nationalism.
Politico did it all with one statistic…
30 thoughts on “Christian Grievance”
“Conflating religious authority with political authority is idolatrous and often leads to oppression of minority and other marginalized groups as well as the spiritual impoverishment of religion.”
From 2005-2009, I lived and worked in Israel to witness the tyranny of a national religion. For true believers, no faith requires political favor or privilege. Christian nationalism is a fervent cry from weakness of faith that one cannot live without containment of the differing other behind behind walls of separation.
“There are two different types of people in the world, those who want to know and those who want to believe.” Neitzsche
Watching CNN Newsroom at 4:00 a.m. this morning I saw a journalist interviewing a woman of indeterminate age, her face a mass of wrinkles so she must be well into her senior years. She was bemoaning the loss of the normal life she had been living before the Russians invaded and destroyed most of her town, damage to her home was heavy and a Russian soldier knocked down her door and chased her into her basement. He fired his gun into the dark basement but fortunately missed her. She was looking for her neighbors and what could be salvaged from Putin’s war crime level invasion of her home and homeland. President Zelinskeyy continues to fight to save his country with the help of his, prior to the invasion, untrained countrymen and countrywomen of all ages.
I wondered what Americans would do in this situation; which is not unimaginable at this time, and what I visualized was White Nationalist, Christian Americans looting and shooting and killing one another en masse. Ian has further eroded our internal strength, National Guard are seeking survivors and bodies in the totally demolished areas and their numbers are decreasing to provide security from Russia, Iran, North Korea and the possibility of nuclear attack. If we had to depend on only the Christian faction in this country we would be in deep shit and sinking. This I KNOW and I BELIEVE to be true as I sit in my neighborhood of Catholics who stopped speaking to me in 2016 when they planted their “Trump For President” yard signs. “And so it goes.” Linda Ellerbee
We have wondered what transpired in those secret meetings and phone calls between Trump and Putin. As we watch their increasing powers today, with the Republican minority in power, and the Allies not providing “boots on the ground” protection with the Ukrainian nation against Putin; maybe we are seeing what transpired. Just thoughts from an old woman with a few conspiracy theories.
“You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” Neitzsche
The statistics quoted in the Politico study are misleading. One has to first look at the percentage of the population that is Republican (43%) and THEN figure the percentage of that percentage to get at the number who want the Christian Nation thing. .57 X .43 = .24 That less than a quarter of the population looks a lot smaller than what Politico is presenting.
IMO what the rest of us should be concerned about is the intense level of coordinated effort being put forward by that 24% of Republicans to force by whatever means necessary the overturn of the First Amendment.
“…white grievance is highly correlated with support for a Christian nation.”
I just want to look at that. Would that be like forming another Israel for just Christians?
I’ve got some ideas on where we can send them.
Anyway, remember that these people are being TOLD they are under attack. Why doesn’t Congress hold a hearing and invite Rupert Murdoch, Charles Koch, and Evangelical preachers?
Let’s hear these folks answer some meaningful questions. I would be happy to write a list of questions for Congress.
The fact that censoring in this country is focused on the true Leftists should be a red flag for everyone. The right-wingers are given all the media coverage, and the media calls MSNBC a Leftist media outlet which is hilarious.
Why is that?
The answer is the oppression and manipulation of non-critical thinkers. Followers. People who have to surround themselves with like believers to confirm their irrational fears.
People of faith aren’t supposed to be terrified of the world because they know God controls everything.
These Republican/Evangelicals have no faith and need to control everything.
Always remember that the Founding Fathers declared that our rights were endowed to us and are protected by “their Creator” — and not by “God,” “Yahweh,” or “Allah.” It is absolutely false to argue that the “United States of America” were created as a Christian anything.
I wonder how many of the people who think a Christian America would be good for the country know anything about the Christian America set up by the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. If you were to substitute “Dear Leader” for “God” in the Puritan’s concept of government, you would get something similar to Orwell’s concept of a Fascist government. And the original version of the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City was not too different.
If these people would start reading the New Testament carefully, and internalizing its messages (think of the parable of the Good Samaritan, and Jesus driving the money lenders out of the Temples), and then practicing that kind of Christianity, there would not be any need for a governmental religion.
Todd, I think, generally sums this discussion up accurately. White, Christian grievance has been around since the inception of Christianity. The rise of the Catholic church and the Spanish Inquisition following that show how that grievance can lash out in illogical and idiotic ways. Killing “the other” is ALWAYS the default position of those who preach aggrievement(sic).
Christian churches TEACH aggrievement. They are compelled to use every fear-mongering tactic to keep the flocks in order. In the most delicious irony, it is the most true-believing Christians who are most wracked with fear, guilt and loathing of anyone not them. Their preachers editorialize and alter the meaning of Bible books like Matthew.
These folks do NOT walk in the light of Christ. They walk in the shadow of their own primitive minds which harbor negativity as their main operating system. I watched this phenomenon more than in one place. I had a hyper-Christian for a department head in a high school who told me flat out that Christians were persecuted in this country. When I had the temerity to mention The Holocaust as the real religious persecution, he stopped talking and we never engaged at all after that. Others in Texas just give blank stares when confronted with these facts and the truth.
Quote the Sermon on the Mount to these evangelicals and see what they do or say. Try not to laugh.
Russia is a Christian nation.
If America is really on the decline, it’s not because of Obama, Biden, Bush II, Clinton or any other recent president. The most privileged people in the history of the planet now think of themselves as “victims.”
?Think about it.
MCLV …. “Russia is a Christian nation”.
Then think about Trump’s relationship with far right Evangelicals and then why he is enamored with Putin’s utilitarian manipulation of relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church to achieve political aims and hold onto power. The Church Patriarch in Russia is complicit to achieve its own hierarchial motives just as far right Evangelicals placate Trump.
Interesting object lesson in context.
Bob Jamison; I believe we are watching Putin and Trump coups, working in concert. Who is the greatest enemy? And we are victims of greed and avarice which Trump followers believe they somehow, sometime will cash in on the millions Trump’s followers are piling up and be part of the power he is still using against us. At this point; we cannot count on the White Nationalist, Catholic Supreme Court or the Federal Court system Trump has appointed with the help of McConnell who is laying in wait for his legal takeover of the U.S. Senate.
if the segrigated US is a,brewing pot of my loss of identity, then say im in with the people. the fact many whites never lived side by side with other skin tones..the whites,have already politically passed a form of economic genocide here in American,leaving the overall majorities of minorities to live in,or next to poverty. that alone shortens their life span. we have developed a political form of white only,as in, well if your not a lawyer or kissin some political parties ass, you wont even get to the stage. there is a few exceptions,the ones who did, raise enough voices to gain their support, as long as the white controled media didnt white wash any facts. seems with media and social media,the new field has kept too many pigeion holed in other genres,and they never really see of hear their voices all determined by a white world of majority rule. so how come Americans,er, excuse me the white class is scared, because they dont want to know,and dont care if the minorities live or die. now, that sounds like authoritarian christian russia…anybody got a orban?
Theocracies suck. But,they will survive.
In the not too distant future,none of this internecine religious battle within the U.S. will matter. The Biden administration is looking to foment WWIII,and consequently, the incidental music will no longer be wafting in the air and on our minds.
The Democrats will own this. There will be a time when Democratic Party apparatchiks will be seen in public with shaved heads. Just like the Vichy French.
Having lived in South Carolina for 40 years now, I can attest to everything the polls are indicating, i.e. White Christian Nationalists holding “the South shall rise again” beliefs . I have seen it over and over.
For a fresh, very contemporary look, just look at the meltdowns they are having about Lizzo playing the Crystal Flute!! Some quotes from Mark Walsh Twitter feed:
“Simply desecrating American history just for the sake of it”
“Actually, it’s not just for the sake of it. There’s a very clear point here: to send the message that our heritage and history are meaningless and that nothing we love or care about has any value.”
I could go on but why bother! It’s depressing and a warning to get out and vote in November.
We are dealing with primitive minds. Letters from Civil War soldiers tell the story. Union soldiers wrote of preserving liberty and saving republican government. Southern soldiers wrote of honor.
Like the honor killings we witness today indicate about persistently primitive cultures in the Muslim world, the southern culture of the 19th century was based on hierarchy, tradition, and false ego. In reality that primitive culture is still with us, in the Christian world, deeply entrenched in our least educated, primarily rural, white people.
Whether it’s a guy starting a fight in a bar because someone looked at his woman or a true believer demanding respect for his religion, it’s the same impulse, and it signifies not strength but weakness, or more specifically a lack of socialization to modern principles of civilization.
The rising White Christian Nationalism is fueled by racism, classism, misogyny, and a daily choice to remain ignorant and oblivious to the unsustainability of the capitalistic exploitation of our planet and patriarchal oppression of women, children and marginalized people.
Laurie Gray – I agree, you expressed it much better than I ever could.
In case you missed it, Russia/Putin are invading a sovereign country. They are killing, looting and destroying Ukrainian infrastructure and people without any discrimination. How on Earth can you blame Biden for starting WW III? Clearly, you haven’t a clue about actual events.
So, maybe you should just grab your AR-15 and head to Syria, or almost anywhere in Africa, or maybe remote areas of China. THOSE places are in shooting wars. Then you might be better qualified to talk about what world war looks, sounds and smells like.
Also, they are scattered around the world. Is that what you mean by World War III? Or is it just when we’re involved…you know, like before 12/7/41.
I really don’t want to live in a theocracy like Iran. White Christian Nationalists are just as theocratic as the leaders of Iran. They are evangelical and Protestant. They would be just as oppressive. I don’t want to imagine what rights I, as a lesbian woman ,would lose.
Christian Nationalists forget that Jesus refused to be the kind of Messiah who overthrew the Romans. They also forget he never carried a weapon per se’. (Although some would argue that the whip he used to drive out those cheating people of money was a weapon. )He sought to reform the Judaism of the first century. Like all the Jews of his time, he suffered from Roman oppression. They even insisted that everyone acknowlege allegiance to the emperor and their gods. And, I believe, it was the Roman Empire ,not the Jews, who crucified Jesus. He was crucified for sedition. Sadly, when Constantine made Christianity the religion of the empire, much of what Jesus envisioned was lost and, as a result, Christians became oppressors who were mysogynist, racist, anti-Semitic,and Islamophobic. White Christian Nationalists are a recapitulation of that sort of Christianity.
I embrace a world of interfaith dialogue where we learn from one another and grow spiritually. I so wish we could create a world in which we overcome our fear of those whose beliefs are different from ours. In the meantime, I will continue to practice Sufi dancing where we sing and dance to chants from different faith traditions.
Dear Over It: You mention Civil War letters telling why people chose to fight on either side. My great-grandfather was a soldier in the Union Army, First Indiana Cavalry, Company K. When asked why he chose to fight, he said, “To preserve the union.” He was 18 years old when he joined, 21 when he got out. He and his brother were originally from eastern Tennessee, were sent north by their father who didn’t want them conscripted by the Confederate Army. Their experience certainly fits your comment about CW letters.
Jesus Christ was executed in 33 CE, the last Jewish or Israelite stronghold of Masada was crushed in 73 CE.
Let’s face it, even though Jesus Christ was jewish, the Jews for the most part especially the hierarchy did not like him. And, after the death of christ, the Jews were happy to pursue Christ’s followers with fervent tenacity and implacable hatred!
Rome had a lot to do with Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul for that matter. They also had executed some of Christ’s apostles. Of course as you well know, Paul was an ex Pharisee from the Sanhedrin and extremely educated in politics and religion.
And even though he was eventually executed by rome, many realized how well the Christians banded together and spread the word of Christ!
So the various Nicene council meetings especially the 325 AD council meeting, in which specific Dogma was adopted! Emperor Constantine agreed to pay the Christian Church back all of the money that they had confiscated. They also were given property holdings. They were given authority, which eventually replaced secular courts or were melded to those later on in Britain.
None of this was preached by Jesus Christ, he predicted there would be a great apostasy in which men would infiltrate and manipulate the Christian faith to their own benefit. And that’s what happened!
What’s happening today was also prophesied, read Matthew the 24th chapter. Or better yet, read Luke 21: 20-24. This was prophesied before the actual event happened, the sacking of Jerusalem.
The church saw an opportunity to gain power and made up history after the fact. Augustine was a big promoter of that. He also was a hypocrite and a liar.
But, many would say, so what!?
Except this just draws out those individuals who refused to know anything, or our purposefully misleading others, or are wolves and sheeps clothing, they are identified and marked.
You don’t think these times today are different from any of the other critical times in history? I guarantee you these times are different. But, I suppose you have to enjoy history to realize that fact.
Read Revelation the 16th chapter. Pay attention to verse 14 through 16.
Then read Revelation the 19th chapter, 11 through 21.
This is all happening now because it’s supposed to happen, at least that’s what I believe. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
Paul brings out that time concerning the apostasy, it’s in Second Thessalonians starting in chapter 2 and read on from there.
For all practical purposes, I’m an atheist, and proud of it.
I read these comments and it’s mostly like listening to gamers discussing the fine points of some dippy video game.
Any other practical atheists here? Speak up!
Ormond and Sheila; I am not a practical or practicing Atheist but I stand with you.
Vernon you are just flat out wrong. Christian churches do not teach aggrievement, only those who do not follow the common lectionary do so. The best example of this is the Southern Baptist CULT founded to further slavery and the Confederate States of America. They are not Christian and should not be described as so.
OK – first things first
Norris – Israel does not have a state religion and guarantees freedom of religion (mostly – the exceptions being limits for “liberal Jewish” sects). It was founded by left-wing Socialists, of the old school.
The outsized power of the Orthodox Jews is just a demonstration of the weakness of a parliamentary system. Tick off the Orthodox and the government crashes. They have been a necessary part of every government coalition since the beginning.
Note that all of the “Arab” nations do have state religions and all Jews were expelled from Transjordan in 1923.
Now, for America as a White Christian nation – OK, but not like Traditional English history where the government and the church were the King. I propose a National Religious Leader — me.
True, I am not a Christian, but after Trump proved that judges don’t have to understand the law, why not. Then, the White Christian Nationalists might understand what this country’s founders feared about mixing government with religion — in both directions.
Atheists! I find it also fascinating that atheists like to hedge their bets, especially when staring death in the face. I also find that people who decide to be atheists are usually protecting or involved with someone or something that could be questionable? Something that they don’t want to have on their conscience so they dismiss it as myth. And that’s fine, that’s a personal choice! That’s the whole point of being an independent free moral agent, able to make your own decisions, because it brings out the true heart of a person’s being.
It’s easy to dismiss any writings as myth, but usually people dismiss those writings as myth because they don’t want to agree with those particular manuscripts. After all, it was so long ago?!?
But then how many literary gems that are quite old do people favor because they like what they say? We read about all of these intellectuals through history, many of them believe the flatEarth was sitting on the back of elephants which were standing on a giant turtle.
But, there are Old testament scriptures that talk about the Earth being a globe and that it hangs on nothing! Millennia before anyone else perceive the Earth being round.
But all of those philosophers of old are still revered even though all of their drivel was mostly nonsense! Hence epicureanism, stoicism, Platoism, existentialism, pragmatism, but even the revered Aristotle believed in one being over All others. Is Aristotle criticized? I find it hilarious and hypocritical!
Well I’m an old liberal white guy and I have been “discriminated” against in the workplace. The hospital I used to work for take care of a lot of poor Latino immigrants and several years ago I lost my job to a nurse from South America who is bilingual. I had been on the job for several years more than her but they kept her simply because she spoke fluent Spanish and I did not. So even as a very progressive feminist environmentalist white liberal I felt that I was certainly discriminated against based on my inability to speak Spanish. That should not happen in the US at all!
John P. I am an old atheist who feels no need to “hedge my bet”. Nor am I involved with someone or something I consider “questionable”. Years ago, I attended grandparents day at the local Christine school. The teacher said: “And then Christ came around the corner and exclaimed (I can’t remember what Jesus was attributed as saying but it was something the teacher made up at the moment) I thought “that’s the way it’s always been”. I’m told that even the priests at Notre Dame no longer teach the water to wine, walking on water etc. etc. Having studied the major religions, I agree with Winston Churchill’s statement “if I had to choose a religion, I guess it would be Christianity” ( fortunately we don’t have to choose).
The point about hedging bets Jane, is during the first and second world war, it was fairly common knowledge that people who knew they were going to meet their demise in a very unpleasant way, did hedge their bets. I don’t think it did much good though. They didn’t necessarily have to be atheists, but I guess when you stare death in the face, there are a lot of factors involved in a decision at that particular moment.
Like I said earlier on another thread, my cousin is a teacher at the Joliet archdiocese. And I guarantee you, the Catholic church does not believe in most of the things they teach. They don’t believe in limbo anymore, because a new limbo wasn’t real anyway, the same with purgatory! But what did they do with all of the money that was extorted from people requesting and paying for masses to grease the wheels of their dead ones to heaven?
Have you ever been to a funeral or wake and hear a preacher telling everyone in the room that the Dead loved one was going to hell? I’ve never heard it! And on top of that, the church will actually admit at least the subordinates at the church will admit, there is no burning hell!
So many folks have had bad experiences dealing with religion, but it’s not biblical scripture that is ridiculous, it’s those who claim to interpret it that are ridiculous. Major churches and religions have been involved in so much bloodshed, that there will be a time of reckoning concerning them. As an independent free moral agent, everyone is free to make their decisions on what to believe or not. That being said, individuals are not allowed to make up their own reality or their own version of events because they don’t like history. That’s been done quite a bit on this thread blog. You can read my take on that issue on the next thread up that was dropped today.
Comments are closed.