September 2019 Church & State Magazine | People & Events

“Christian nationalism,” the belief that a narrow version of right-wing fundamentalist Christianity should merge with the state, direct public policy and control the lives of others, is under new assault – this one led by other Christians.

The new effort, Christians Against Christian Nationalism, is sponsored by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC), a long-time ally of Americans United. The BJC, which hews to the traditional Baptist view that church-state separation is the best protector of freedom of conscience, is pulling together Christians of all denominations to sign a statement that debunks Christian nationalism and   reminds all Americans of the im­por­tance of religious freedom.

“Christian nationalism seeks to merge Christian and American identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s constitutional democracy,” observes the statement. “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.”

Although this statement is principally addressed to Christians in general, it fully supports the rights of non-Christians and non-theists. It continues, “One’s religious affiliation, or lack thereof, should be irrelevant to one’s standing in the civic community” and adds, “Government should not prefer one religion over another or religion over nonreligion.”

Despite its clearly fallacious nature, the ultrarightist concept of Christian nationalism has proven hard to overcome. Most recently, it has gained new life thanks to the Trump-Pence administration’s alliance with the Religious Right, a partnership that has spawned policies undermining church-state separation. Christian nationalism has also reared its head through Project Blitz, a coordinated effort led by religious extremists to push dangerous bills through the state legislatures.

Americans United has battled Christian nationalism for decades. By debunking the false “Christian nation” history proffered by the extremists of the Religious Right and advocating for the right of all Americans – religious and non-religious – to worship (or not) as they see fit, AU has supported the vision of America’s founders of a multi-faith, multi-philosophy society where a variety of religions exists but none receives government support.

To learn more about Christians Against Christian Nationalism, visit: bjconline.org/christiannationalism.