Most Christian Nationalists don’t like being called Christian Nationalists. That’s not surprising. Americans who are familiar with the term “Christian Nationalism” hold a largely negative perception of it. That’s also not surprising. Americans have been accustomed over the years to living in a democracy, not a theocracy.
A recent Fox News piece asserted that liberals are using the term “Christian Nationalism” to marginalize conservative Christians. It quoted Kevin McCullough, identified as a “conservative author and radio talk show host,” who said, “I don’t think it’s a term that that people of God need to embrace … I see it primarily as a term that the other side is using to leverage animosity against people like me and people that believe like me. I would not describe myself as a Christian Nationalist ever.”
Of course McCullough wouldn’t use the term – for the same reason that theocrats and fascists don’t usually embrace those labels. That’s why we have to look not at what Christian Nationalists call themselves but what they want to do to America.
What Christian Nationalists want
So, as someone who has been writing about Christian Nationalism in one guise or another for 35 years, please indulge me as I outline that.
Remember, the motivating ideology behind this movement is that the United States was founded and still ought to be a “Christian” nation – but the version of Christianity is a narrow one. This fallacious belief – which AU’s Andrew Seidel calls “the founding myth” – props up the entirety of Christian Nationalism. Followers of this movement want to base our nation’s laws on their fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity, a view of that faith that isn’t shared by most American Christians.
If you want to know what life would be like under Christian Nationalist rule, consider their political agenda:
- Abortion would be illegal in all instances, and certain forms of birth control would be outlawed.
- Public schools would be infused with fundamentalist Christianity.
- Marriage for same-sex couples would be illegal, and LGBTQ rights would be abolished. Some extreme Christian Nationalists call for punishing adults who engage in consensual same-sex relationships.
- The symbols and language of the Christian faith would be openly used by government and would dominate the public square.
- Taxpayer funds would subsidize Christian schools and a host of religious social service programs.
- Books, magazines, films, works of art and other creative expressions that offend fundamentalists would be banned.
- When science and religion come into conflict, science would have to yield.
- Religious diversity and pluralism would no longer be valued as positive features of American life. Rather, that state would use its resources to pressure people to embrace fundamentalist Christianity.
- Secular government and the concept of separation of church and state, concepts Christian Nationalists regard as evil, would be dismantled.
Americans oppose Christian Nationalism
Most Americans don’t want to live in a society like this, and Christian Nationalists know it. That’s why they run from the term “Christian Nationalism.” (It also explains why they’re increasingly endorsing voter suppression.)
But it’s too late for that. Since the rise of the modern Religious Right in the late 1970s, Christian Nationalists have been telling us all about their repressive model society and putting it into effect whenever they can. Recent examples include the rash of state laws banning or severely restricting abortion, the host of laws attacking the rights of transgender people, proposals to shoehorn fundamentalist Christianity into public schools, the growth of school voucher programs and the wave of book banning currently washing over the nation. (Or just look at what’s going on in states like Texas and Florida.)
The Fox News article singled out Americans United as one of the groups that opposes Christian Nationalism. We’ll take that as a backhanded compliment. You bet AU is proud to be spearheading the opposition to those who would transform our democracy into a theocracy – and we have no intention of letting up. The first step is not letting Christian Nationalists get away with lying about who they are and what they’d like to do.
P.S. If you haven’t signed Americans United’s pledge affirming your support for church-state separation, now’s the time. It’s a concrete way to let Christian Nationalists know where you stand.