When Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, Christian nationalist groups were apoplectic. They behaved the same way when Barack Obama, whom many of them incorrectly believed was secretly a Muslim, was elected in 2008 – the end was nigh!
With Joe Biden preparing to move into the White House in January, we’re hearing it again.
“It seems our nation is under attack – attack from within, from socialists who want to bring anarchy to our streets,” harrumphed evangelist Franklin Graham in a Nov. 11 Facebook post. “The hard-won freedoms we have enjoyed in America are very much at stake.”
Graham implored his followers to pray for President Donald Trump – he didn’t recommend that they extend that same courtesy to Biden.
Another far-right evangelist, Alex McFarland, told the American Family Association that public schools and secular government are to blame for our nation’s alleged decline.
“For decades, students have been told that there are no moral boundaries – we make our own rules, premarital sex is okay, if unintended pregnancies occur they are solved by abortion,” McFarland said. “So, for decades there’s been a militant, secular message being pumped into the minds of people.”
McFarland also blamed pastors for not preaching the way he believes they ought to preach.
The idea that the nation is due to collapse any minute now because we’ve done something a Christian nationalist doesn’t like – be it craft secular government, extend rights to all, or elect a Democrat – is a rather tiresome line. We’ve been hearing it for a long time. In the early 1800s, conservative pastors attacked the U.S. Constitution because it lacked references to God and Christianity. Some felt certain the nation would never survive because of this defect. Some pastors considered the Civil War a form of divine punishment. Such claims continued into the modern era. Remember when TV preachers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson appallingly asserted that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred because God was no longer protecting us?
Graham is clearly not happy with the election results. Biden did beat Trump, after all. But that does not mean our nation is crumbling (even though we do face serious challenges now, as we often do); rather, it means that a lot of people don’t agree with Graham. Record numbers of Americans voted, and several million more of them favored Biden than Trump. Trump and his allies may be resisting the clear results, but our democracy worked. Even in the middle of a pandemic, our system did exactly what it was supposed to do – give the people their voice. That’s evidence of a robust and strong country, not one stumbling toward collapse.
Obviously, Graham and his ilk don’t like what that voice said. But that doesn’t mean the nation is on the eve of destruction. A more likely scenario is that Graham and his friends are just sore losers.
Photo: Crowds celebrate in Philadelphia. Screenshot via WHYY radio.