The term “Christian nationalism” (sometimes “white Christian nationalism”) is catching on in political circles, the media and even everyday usage. It denotes a far-right political movement merged with fundamentalist Christianity whose adherents seek to tear down the church-state wall and force all Americans to live under their oppressive, narrow version of politicized Christianity.
The growing use of the term has caught the attention of Christian nationalists, and they’re not happy about it. The Family Research Council (FRC) is hosting an event tomorrow to purportedly explain how the term is being used to suppress voter turnout among conservative Christians. (The irony meter just exploded as the FRC has backed voter suppression bills and laws aimed to disenfranchise liberals and embraces the Big Lie that Donald Trump actually won the presidency in 2020.)
An FRC staffer recently wrote a column for the American Family Association arguing that what opponents of Christian nationalism fear is really Christianity. This is a deliberate attempt by Christian nationalists to shift the terms of the debate. We can’t let them get away with it.
Remember, millions of Christians reject Christian nationalism. They see it as corrosive to the spirit of Christianity and as a threat to America’s democratic traditions.
Our friends at the Baptist Joint Committee sponsor the Christians Against Christian Nationalism project. Their statement succinctly lays out the threat of Christian nationalism: “Christian nationalism seeks to merge Christian and American identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s constitutional democracy. 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.”
Many Christians consider Christian nationalism to be decidedly un-Christian because it takes what they consider to be that faith’s central message of love and the command to care for those in need and turns it into a series of talking points for bootstrap capitalism and a far-right social policy anchored in hate and division.
Defenders of church-state separation and secular government are using the term “Christian nationalism” to significant effect. The Christian nationalists have noticed, and they don’t like it. That’s a sign that we’re doing something right, so let’s keep it up.
P.S. If you want to understand how Christian nationalists have come to control the Supreme Court’s understanding of “religious freedom,” get a copy of AU Vice President for Strategic Communications Andrew Seidel’s new book American Crusade: How The Supreme Court Is Weaponizing Religious Freedom. And for an overview of the bad history parroted by Christian nationalists, see Andrew’s previous book The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American.