Religious Minorities

We Can’t Say It Enough: Christian Nationalism Is Not Synonymous With Christianity

  Rob Boston

Christianity has nothing to do with white, Christian crusaders.

The October issue of Church & State contains an excerpt from Vice President of Strategic Communications Andrew L. Seidel’s new book “American Crusade: How the Supreme Court Is Weaponizing Religious Freedom.” In the book, Seidel uses the term “white Christian nationalist” to describe a movement he labels “Crusaders.” This network of far-right fundamentalists seeks to tear down the church-state wall and use the power of government to force all of us to live by their theology.

In response, we heard from a few readers who want to make it clear that their Christianity has nothing to do with Christian nationalism. It’s a fair point. It can’t be stressed enough: The vast majority of Christians in America are not Christian nationalists.

Writing on MSNBC’s website, columnist Cynthia Miller-Idress, a professor in the School of Public Affairs and the School of Education at American University, provides another welcome reminder of the difference between Christianity and Christian nationalism.

“Christian nationalism argues that Americans are an exceptional, chosen people who will eventually face an apocalyptic end-times battle,” Miller-Idriss writes. “This us-versus-them thinking positions the ‘other’ as a dire threat that has to be defeated out of a moral duty to defend Christian values and prevent the nation from falling into darkness.”

White nationalism is un-Christian.

To millions of American Christians, this type of thinking is decidedly un-Christian. In their view, there is no “other.” Rather, they believe we were created in the likeness of a deity and that all people, regardless of skin color, national background, gender or sexual orientation, are members of the same human family. Many secularists would agree – minus the belief in a deity, of course – and assert that our common evolutionary origin binds us together.

At the end of the day, Christian nationalism asserts that God loves America – white, conservative, fundamentalist Christian America – more than other nations and more than other people. That concept is repulsive to many believers.

Miller-Idriss says it bluntly and with great force: “Let me be clear, Christian nationalism is not Christianity. Nor is it ordinary patriotism or mere pride in being American. It is a perversion of both Christianity and patriotism.”

To that, we can only add a resounding, “Amen!”

P.S. You can get a copy of Andrew’s book American Crusade from his favorite bookstore here. Or ask your local public library for a copy.

Photo: Mario Tomo, Getty Images

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