A new poll shows that nearly half of all voters in America believe that Christian nationalism is a threat to the nation. While I wish that number were higher, the poll indicates that a solid base of Americans perceive the dangers of the exclusionary “Christian nation” perspective peddled by the Religious Right. That’s not a bad platform on which to build our educational efforts.
The poll, conducted by the Morning Consult, found that among registered voters, 20 percent see Christian nationalism – the belief that the United States is or ought to be an officially “Christian nation” that extends preference to that faith – as a “critical threat.” Twenty-seven percent see it as an important issue but not a critical threat. Thirty-five percent say it’s not a threat at all, and 18 percent say they’re not sure.
Not surprisingly, the results sharply diverge depending on one’s political views. Forty-seven percent of Republicans say they don’t consider Christian nationalism a threat at all, but only 24 percent of Democrats say that. Sixty-three percent of Democrats perceive Christian nationalism as a serious or important threat.
Commenting on these results, AU President and CEO Rachel Laser told the Morning Consult that Christian nationalism is a problem because it fosters “efforts to restrict the space for religious pluralism in the country and give special privileges to a narrow segment of white Christians in America.”
Added Laser, “There is a strong movement to preserve white Christian power in America right now and a real feeling of fragility about the changing demographics of America.”
That’s one drawback to Christian nationalism. Here’s another: It robs us of the true story of our country’s origins and replaces it with a simplistic, inaccurate myth.
This past weekend, I gave talks to groups in Somerset, N.J., and Willow Grove, Pa. I delivered the same speech in both places. It was titled “Separation of Church and State: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are and Where We’d Like to Be.” During the section of the talk that covered “where we’ve been,” I debunked the Religious Right’s fallacious Christian nation myth and explained that the real story of how we went from a collection of colonies, many of which had theocratic leanings, to a nation that enshrined religious freedom for all and protected it with a wall of separation between church and state, is much more interesting and inspiring.
What the Religious Right is offering is a form of what I call “historical creationism.” Just as they don’t like evolution so they fashioned a new, bogus “science,” Religious Right activists don’t like our nation’s actual history, so they invented a fake one. Fortunately, it is easily debunked: The next time someone tells you that the United States was founded to be an officially Christian nation, ask them to show you where it says that in the Constitution. (Here’s some more evidence if you need it.)
Unfortunately, Christian nationalism isn’t just the peddling of bad history. It has a political expression: Project Blitz. Americans United is battling Blitz bills, many of which reflect Christian nationalism, in state legislatures nationwide. We could use your help. Learn how to get involved here and join us we work to educate all Americans about the very real threat posed by Christian nationalism.