More commonly asked questions about Christian nationalism. If you haven’t done so already, check out part I.
- Are Christian nationalists always white evangelicals?
- Why must we reject Christian nationalism?
- How can I help?
1. Are Christian nationalists always white evangelicals?
Sunday to Saturday: No, but there is considerable overlap, and as question 2 in the first part addressed, the evangelical part is more of a marker of a particular political agenda, than a Christian belief system. For a detailed look at who makes up the Christian nationalist movement, we suggest reading Taking America Back for God.
“Evangelicals are not a monolith, and Christian nationalism can take a variety of forms. There are vocal opponents of Christian nationalism who identify as evangelical. And strong support for Christian nationalist themes can also be found in segments of Mainline Protestant, Black Protestant, and Catholic churches. In addition, a surprising number of self-identified Democrats and Independents endorse Christian nationalism to varying degrees. All of that to say commentators frequently paint an overly simplistic picture of who supports Christian nationalism and why.” Joseph Smith, “Christian Nationalism Explained: An Interview with Rutgers Professor Joseph Williams” Rutgers School of Arts and Science, 9 March 2021. https://sas.rutgers.edu/news-a-events/news/newsroom/faculty/3406-religious-nationalism
“White Christian nationalism is not just a problem among white American Christians. There are secular versions of white Christian nationalism that claim to defend ‘Western Culture’ or ‘Judeo-Christian civilization.’ And there are secular white Americans who know how to leverage white Christian nationalist language. For such Americans, the ‘Christian’ label simply signals shared tribal identity or veils political values that would otherwise be socially unacceptable.” Philip Gorski and Samuel Perry, The Flag and the Cross, E-book ed., Oxford University Press, 2022, Kindle.
2. Why must we reject Christian nationalism?
Sunday to Saturday: When a set of individuals calling themselves Christians are promoting an idea that is antithetical to Christian values it is our duty to gracefully and kindly speak out against this narrative.
“Americans who embrace Christian nationalism are much more likely to create, support, and maintain symbolic and social boundaries that exclude non-Christians from full inclusion into American civic life…Therefore, strong support for Christian nationalism is—without a doubt—a threat to a pluralistic democratic society.” Samuel Perry and Andrew Whitehead, Taking America Back for God. E-book ed., Oxford University Press, 2020, Kindle.
“It warps both religion and patriotism, and when turned against fellow Americans, it’s a force potent enough to rupture the fabric of American political life—and possibly even the American republic itself…Because nationalism is arbitrary and relies on coercion and exclusion to fabricate a national identity, it fosters division, not cohesion; fragmentation, not unity.” Paul Miller, The Religion of American Greatness (Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2022) xii.
“If Christianity is not seen as countercultural and even subversive within a military-economic superpower, you can be sure it is a deeply compromised Christianity.” Brian Zahnd, Postcards from Babylon, E-book ed., 2019, Spello Press, Kindle.
“Nationalism fulfills all the criteria of a religion. It is a set of symbols that establishes powerful moods that last for centuries. It describes a general order for life, an orienting framework with a standard of right and wrong, a sense of purpose and direction. And it roots the general order in an ‘aura of factuality,’ a story about the nation’s ancient roots and primal existence which seems feasible because the nation preexists us and outlives us.” Paul Miller, The Religion of American Greatness (Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2022) 138.
“Quietism is itself a public, political stance: your congregations absorb the lesson that Christianity has no particular implications except to endorse the pro-life movement, and thus there is no particular problem with the de facto Christian nationalism that dominates much of White evangelical political life.” Paul Miller, The Religion of American Greatness (Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2022) 14.
“The desperate quest for power inherent in Christian nationalist ideology is antithetical to Jesus’ message. At its core, Christian nationalism is a hollow and deceptive philosophy that depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ.” Samuel Perry and Andrew Whitehead, Taking America Back for God. E-book ed., Oxford University Press, 2020, Kindle.
“Wrapping a Christian banner around a political ideology in a pluralistic society is an invitation to proffer privilege to those who publicly claim to follow a religious belief system, while simultaneously, in effect, dismantling the safeguards of religious freedom.” Leslye Colvin, “We are E Pluribus Unum, Not Christian Nationalists” Network Lobby, 2 August 2019. https://networklobby.org/20190802nationalism/
“When modern nationalists want to treat national culture with the same reverence and separateness that Israel was supposed to have for its covenant relationship with God, they are treating their national culture as a form of religious worship, the preservation of which is a religious duty, with the nation playing the role of God.” Paul Miller, The Religion of American Greatness (Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2022) 124.
3. How can I help?
Sunday to Saturday: Educate yourself with our guided learning paths on Christin nationalism to learn more about the movement. Sign the statement at ChristiansAgainstChristianNationalism.org. Dive into the resources at DisarmingLeviathan.com and LifeAfterHate.org for guidance on how to speak up about Christian nationalism with humility and grace.
“Keep talking about white Christian nationalism. Keep defining it. Keep explaining it. Keep sharing about it on social media and in-person. Keep reminding people there are other ways to think about God and nation and faith and politics.” Jemar Tisby, “White Christian Nationalists Are Scrambling to Respond to Public Criticism of their Ideology” Footnotes by Jemar Tisby, 24 October 2022. https://jemartisby.substack.com/p/white-christian-nationalists-are
“To beat nationalism, we need to tell a better story…The national story can and must include both triumphs and failures because that is the best way to include everyone—victor and victim alike—and to inspire people with a sense of responsibility.” Paul Miller, The Religion of American Greatness (Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2022) 235.
“Followers of Jesus must realize — and must help others realize — that the hope of the world lies not in any particular version of the kingdom of the world gaining the upper hand in Babylon’s endless tit-for-tat game. The hope of the world lies in a kingdom that is not of this world, a kingdom that doesn’t participate in tit-for-tat, a kingdom that operates with a completely different understanding of power.” Greg Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation, (Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, 2007) 27.
More curated resources on Christian nationalism:
FIVE QUESTIONS: Christian Nationalism – Part I
What is Christian nationalism? What does the “Christian” mean in Christian nationalism? Is Christian nationalism a Christian movement? Is there a difference between Christian nationalism and patriotism? Was America ever a Christian nation? Does Christian nationalism have a racial component?Read more
BOOK: The Religion of American Greatness
Many books taking on the subject of Christian nationalism identify, and rightly so, the idolatry, racism, and tribalism of the movement, but few theologically, academically, historically, and charitably dismantle the movement as well as Paul D. Miller, does in The Religion of American Greatness. But, dismantling Christian nationalism was not his sole goal in writing…Read more
BOOK: The Flag and the Cross
Christian nationalism is not a new phenomenon. Nor is it a fringe element of the Republican party. In The Flag and the Cross professors Philip Gorski and Samuel Perry detail the history of Christian nationalism dating back to the 1600s, define its core beliefs, how it has adapted over the centuries, and suggest ways Americans…Read more