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It Can Happen Here: The Links Between White Christian Nationalism and Fascism
The resemblances are too clear and the threat too urgent to ignore.
I’m sounding the alarm. I’m shouting it from the rooftops. I’m telling anyone who will listen.
It can happen here.
The “it” in this case is fascism. In the United States, founded as a democratic republic, we now face the urgent threat of an authoritarian regime taking over our political mechanism and depriving us of our voice through the vote.
The United States has never fully extended democracy to all people, but the tenuous thread of democratic freedoms we have might be severed as soon as the November 2024 presidential election.
While this may sound alarmist to some, consider the connections between the current white Christian nationalist movement, conspicuous during the January 6 insurrection, and fascism.
In article for Religion in Public titled, “Christian Nationalism Talks Religion, But Walks Fascism” by Samuel L. Perry and Andrew L. Whitehead, the two sociologists note the chilling similarities between the two ideologies.
Drawing on the work of Yale Philosopher Jason Stanley and his book How Fascism Works: The Politics between Us and Them, they list the key markers of fascism.
An ideology built on reference to a mythic past.
Populist support for strongman demagogues.
A culture of anti-intellectualism, including anti-education and anti-science beliefs.
An ideology that views social hierarchies as normal and necessary.
Idealization of patriarchal families.
Peace maintained by authoritarian “law & order” tactics.
Foments cultural anxiety about sexual deviance.
Pervasive victim mentality.
Fascism is a phenomenon that residents of the U.S. often think happens “somewhere else.” But with the resurgence of white Christian nationalism “somewhere” is here.
Perry and Whitehead go on to compare white Christian nationalism to the characteristics of fascism.
Reading Stanley’s description of fascist societies, we are struck by how our collective empirical snapshots of Christian nationalism combine to make one chilling mosaic.
Christian nationalism is built on an interpretation of history that connects America’s founding and future success with its Christian heritage (reference to a mythic past).
Christian nationalist ideology is also among the strongest predictors that Americans…
voted for Donald Trump in 2016 (strongman demagogue).
oppose scientists and science education in public schools in favor of creationism (anti-education/anti-science).
hold traditionalist gender attitudes that envision women in the home and men leading at work and in politics (idealization of patriarchal families).
hold views supporting capital punishment and the police “cracking down on troublemakers,” and even justifying police violence against African Americans (maintaining authoritarian law & order).
hold views in opposition to same-sex marriage or civil unions and, as we show in our book, transgender rights (foments cultural anxiety about sexual deviance).
Christian nationalism uses Christianity to lend spiritual sanction to their overall aims which have less to do with faith than fascism.
The true goal of white Christian nationalism is not to be like Jesus but to secure political power and social control.
In their pursuit of power they create an “us” and “them” paradigm characteristic of fascist regimes.
And as Jason Stanley explains, when “us” and “we” become the sole defenders of national heritage and proper social order, the only ones preserving our glorious future and fighting off moral decay, “we” can become more desperate and willing to compromise any remaining moral scruples about means in order to accomplish the necessary ends.
Thus far our democracy, such as it is, has been remarkably resilient. Up to this point, we could reasonably count on voting our leaders into office rather than succumbing to coups, military takeovers, and other violent and authoritarian tactics to grab power.
No longer can we assume that we will determine the next president by casting a vote and watching the election returns roll in. White Christian nationalism, with its fascist characteristics, is a bundle of dynamite ready to explode the foundations of democracy.
Imagine what you would do if a fascist regime stood at the brink of taking over the U.S. government. That reality is far nearer that we would like to acknowledge. Now act accordingly.
Read the entire article by Perry and Whitehead HERE.