Twenty Percent Scary

I recently came across an article reporting that twenty percent of Americans are Christian Nationalists. I have no way of evaluating the accuracy of the survey research that led to that number, but even ten percent would be an absolutely chilling number.

Attention to the phenomenon and the threat it poses has spiked recently, thanks to the central role played by Christian Nationalists in the January 6th attack on the Capitol. A Google search for the term returns a large number of articles, academic analyses,  and opinion pieces, most of them highly critical. Thomas Edsall rounded up a subset of the academic articles in a recent column for the New York Times opining that it would be impossible to understand January 6th without investigating the movement’s role in the uprising.

Edsall quoted from a book by Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry,“Taking America Back for God,” which described Christian Nationalism as a stew of “nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism.” Christian Nationalism, as they analyzed it, is ethnic and political as much–or more–than religious.

Understood in this light, Christian nationalism contends that America has been and should always be distinctively ‘Christian’ from top to bottom — in its self-identity, interpretations of its own history, sacred symbols, cherished values and public policies — and it aims to keep it this way.

Edsall quotes a similar sentiment from the author of another recent book, “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism,”

It is a political movement, and its ultimate goal is power. It does not seek to add another voice to America’s pluralistic democracy, but to replace our foundational democratic principles and institutions with a state grounded on a particular version of Christianity, answering to what some adherents call a ‘biblical worldview’ that also happens to serve the interests of its plutocratic funders and allied political leaders.

Perry addressed the role of Christian Nationalism on January 6th, noting the use of religious symbols during the insurrection such as the cross, Christian flag, Jesus saves sign, etc.

But also the language of the prayers offered by the insurrectionists both outside and within the Capitol indicates the views of white Americans who obviously thought Jesus not only wanted them to violently storm the Capitol in order to take it back from the socialists, globalists, etc., but also believed God empowered their efforts, giving them victory.

There’s much, much more. It’s important to recognize that Christian Nationalists aren’t going to be defeated by secular bloggers, critical “elitist” columnists, or worried academics. The movement can only be effectively countered by those I think of as actual Christians, and fortunately, some have risen to the challenge.Their organizational statement begins by describing their concern with “a persistent threat to both our religious communities and our democracy — Christian nationalism.”

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.

Instead, these Christians believe that:

People of all faiths and none have the right and responsibility to engage constructively in the public square.

Patriotism does not require us to minimize our religious convictions.

One’s religious affiliation, or lack thereof, should be irrelevant to one’s standing in the civic community.

Government should not prefer one religion over another or religion over nonreligion.

Religious instruction is best left to our houses of worship, other religious institutions and families.

America’s historic commitment to religious pluralism enables faith communities to live in civic harmony with one another without sacrificing our theological convictions.

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.

I can only hope (and pray!) that these Christians number more than twenty percent…

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “Twenty Percent Scary

  1. How and why have the Republicans managed to bastardize the Bible, God and the teachings of Jesus Christ in the name of “christianity”? Today; if someone tells me they are a Christian I immediately suspect they are a Trump Republican keep my distance with my guard up. Those still sitting in Congress and elected officials at local and state levels are prime suspects as White Nationalists. Wolves in sheep’s clothing following their Judas goat.

    “But also the language of the prayers offered by the insurrectionists both outside and within the Capitol indicates the views of white Americans who obviously thought Jesus not only wanted them to violently storm the Capitol in order to take it back from the socialists, globalists, etc., but also believed God empowered their efforts, giving them victory.”

    Those sitting officials at the federal level who are against investigating the January 6th Insurrection, including Manchin, should be looked at as unAmerican and will aid in putting Trump back in the White House. They were targets of the insurrectionists who were members and/or supporters of their political affiliation; we must question why they feel they do not need protection today from another attack in the name of their god, this time better prepared and more successful. January 6th was a battle; the war they consider to be a holy war continues.

  2. Well done. Christian nationalism is an oxymoron. To fix that you must spell christian with a small “c” as it has nothing to do with and is actually in total conflict with the teachings of Jesus Christ. I use the terms “Fake christian” vs “Real Christian” to be sure I don’t disparage the religion. The same can be done for Islam, Buddhism, Hindu and on and on and on.

  3. Anne Nelson has written a book about the shadowy right and their financial networks. She also wrote a recent article about the Council for National Policy, another harmless name with ulterior motives. This goes well beyond the 20% mentioned above. This is the GOP we’ve been discussing for years now and it goes with the court-packing done by Trump/McConnell. It’s why I’m steaming at the Democrat’s inability or reluctance to go for their throats at the DOJ/FBI over the 1/6 insurrection. Based on my research, it’s only going to get much worse unless the DNP takes them head-on inside of acting like passive opposition.

    I strongly recommend reading the whole article since it says it all. Here is an excerpt:

    “The Council for National Policy was founded in 1981 by a group of televangelists, Western oligarchs, and Republican strategists to capitalize on Ronald Reagan’s electoral victory the previous year. From the beginning, its goals represented a convergence of the interests of these three groups: a retreat from advances in civil and political rights for women and minorities, tax cuts for the wealthy, and raw political power. Operating from the shadows, its members, who would number some 400, spent the next four decades courting, buying, and bullying fellow Republicans, gradually achieving what was in effect a leveraged buyout of the GOP. Favorite sons, such as Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, were groomed, financed, and supported. Apostates, such as John McCain and Jeff Flake, were punished and exiled. The leaders of the CNP tended to favor their conservative Christian co-religionists, but political expedience came first.

    In 2016, the CNP put its partners’ money, data, and a ground game behind Donald Trump, as the ultimate transactional candidate. Trump promised it retrograde social policies, a favorable tax regime, regulatory retreats, and its choice of federal judges. He delivered in spades. By 2020, the leaders of the CNP were ready to go to extreme lengths to keep him—and themselves—in power.”

    https://washingtonspectator.org/nelson-cnp/

  4. It seems Trump Republicans have co-opted this group as part of their base, but at the same time, brought them out into the open. I hope in this case that saying that those that live by the sword die by the sword, and they all go down together, but the failure to convene a bipartisan 1/6 commission gives me little hope of that.

  5. Time will tell if it is more than twenty percent. Christians are having to sort out their beliefs. For too many, beliefs were inherited…like Ford vs Chevrolet, or IU vs Purdue. It takes effort and courage to question a belief, and perhaps change it….but these times demand it.

  6. Red flags went up with me when I started listening to FOCUS ON THE FAMILY (James Dobson). Everything was getting to be political, disguised as “family help”…POLITICAL JESUS.
    Pushing Jesus in the schools…just like the NRA is pushing Hunting/Guns in the schools. NOTICE.

  7. “…interpretations of its own history…,” as in working to sideline actual history, and feed American mythology, instead. Our actual history has not been taught with any, shall I say “verve,” as it is.

    “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.” But, other than presumably not wishing for “the spiritual impoverishment of religion,” those who are Christian Nationalists, would be happy to see the rest of that.
    Now reading “Think Again,” by Adam Grant, which is NOT going to be on the CN approved list!

  8. When people ask if I am a Christian, I say no I am just a woman who loves Jesus and his mother. I am part of the 80% of those who are not part of Christian Nationalism. And yes, I am a heretical Christian because I am a UU Christian. I strongly support the assertion the founders of our country made regarding the separation of church and state. In fact, the pledge of allegiance did not originally have “under God” in its pledge.

    Christian Nationalists are not Christians just as the Christians who engaged in a civil war in 4th century Rome over who should be the Bishop of Rome were not Christians. Both groups have perverted the teachings of Jesus. They have forgotten that Jesus had a radical statement of loving one’s enemy and praying for those who persecute us. That’s hard at times for a lesbian woman.

    I would also assert that terrorists have perverted the teachings of Mohammed, that some Buddhists in Myanmar have perverted the teachings of the Buddha when they attacked the Muslims of their country.

    If the world is going to survive then compassion must be the foundational cornerstone of all religious traditions. I dream a world of interfaith celebrations in which people of every faith learn from one another and respect each other despite differences of belief or nonbelief.

    I guess now I should pray that Christian Nationalists and other extremists who engage in violence be awakened to compassion in accord with the teachings of Jesus. May all sentient beings be well and happy.

  9. Todd @ 8:08 am – Good post!! The shift in the GOP did not happen over night. They did along the way find the Reactionary Social-Culture Warriors who rallied around the so called family values of tel-evangelists, establishing the political litmus test for the GOP. Ha, Capitalism and the Cross joined were now intertwined.

    The Democrats had big margins in 2008 after Obama had been elected in the House and Senate, they could have pushed for an expansive Federal voting rights law back then. Trouble is the GOP plays the long game and the Democrats just live in the moment.

    Old joke:
    If a Genie gave the Democrats three wishes they would negotiate it down to one, and Wish for something the Republicans might like. I suppose the Republicans would wish for a Joe Manchin to obstruct any progress. Wish Granted!!!

  10. Sadly, authoritarian, white supremacist “Christians” get much of the media coverage and exposure on cable TV stations. But shock value traditionally leads the news cycle.

    My own St. Luke’s United Methodist church takes the lead time after time in Indianapolis and Indiana to stand up for our own and other faiths, refugees and immigrants, racial and ethnic and LGBTQ minorities, women, the hungry, the dispossessed, and the powerless. Local news stations often cover our efforts, but unfortunately, being caring, good, solid citizens doesn’t often command the attention and memory that outrageous behaviors do. Nevertheless, we form a common and active bond with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities here that are tolerant, caring, and contributing backbones of our community and state. Thank God.

  11. 20%? Try closer to 35%!

    Those who have called themselves Christians one along with the program because they thought it was going to bring about their dogma to fruition!

    Eugenics was based on a Christian superiority and intellect that was claimed by the originators. This was passed down through the decades, picked up by the Germans, and used on an industrial scale to rationalized euthanasia of anyone of an inferior gene pool, “in their opinion.”

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4001825/

    From the beginnings, the burning of heretics, the beheading of witches, the drownings of the possessed so to speak!

    They never conducted themselves in a Christian manner! When Christ came upon those who were possessed, he cast out the spirits and brought healing to those individuals! The same with the apostles. There were those who were unable to do so, and they paid the price for it! Those were the hypocrites and the ne’er-do-wells who claimed Christianity but proved false to its power!

    The separation between church and state was supposed to prevent this, but as you know, a slow and steady chiseling away has basically turned that wall into a modern day Jericho!

    “Clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.”​—COLOSSIANS 3:14.

    The Nazi party was basically Christian nationalist! They had their own state-sponsored church, and, their paraphernalia featured the cross overlaid on the swastika. Nazi soldiers carried Christian paraphernalia into battle thinking that that would hasten their heavenly dispatch after death. I mean, it’s not hard to find, I have files of hundreds upon hundreds of pictures of the paraphernalia, and, the posters that were used during the second world war to demonize those considered unworthy. And, those posters are almost identical to the ones used by the white Christian nationalists in this country!

    I will guarantee you, positively, without a doubt, these white Christian nationalists are definitely Nazis! And, it’s obvious that we haven’t learned our lesson from the second world war because we are letting these individuals do as they please in the name of free speech and democracy! And the whole point, they use these freedoms to destroy the vehicle that gave them those freedoms in the first place! Because, they don’t want a free democracy, they want some sort of Bastardized theocracy that has nothing to do with Christianity!

    “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”​ Matthew. 6: 10,

    Part of the Lord’s prayer, and, I would imagine, judging by the works of Christ here on earth and documented in Scripture, if a person believes that, there wouldn’t be too many Nazis hanging around in heaven! But that doesn’t matter to those who are involved in the fundamentalist movement, they are just Nazis all the same.

    The only way you’re going to be able to get around this, is by force! And, from what I can see, they don’t have the stomach for it! It’s going to take force to wrest this movement out of society! Because, if government doesn’t, the second world war is going to look like a rerun of Gilligan’s Island!

  12. Christian Nationalists and true Democracy defined in full by our Constitution are fundamentally antithetical. If you are compelled to believe one must be fully armed to defend your opinion or belief, what reconciliation with harmony and goodwill in the pursuit of happiness is that?!!

  13. Have been watching the 700 club. And it’s the media platform for Christian nationalism. It’s a daily abuse of misinformation. About Israel ( I think they think Jesus is almost here. And they want front row seats). Trump during his reign. And subtly how he should still be president. Until Jesus gets here. One question to the Christian money taker’s. You do know Jesus is going to ask you to hand over his money? Right

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