Discover more from Footnotes by Jemar Tisby
Marjorie Taylor Greene said Christian Nationalism is not a threat. Here's why she's wrong.
Christian nationalism is the most urgent threat to democracy and the peaceful transfer of power in the United States.
Much of my recent work focuses on exposing the looming threat of white Christian Nationalism. It is taxing and fraught work. You are the ones who make this work possible. Would you consider becoming a supporter today?
In a recent video, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene stated that “If Christian Nationalism is something to be scared of, they’re lying to you.”
She went on to list all the ways that Christian Nationalism could be beneficial to the United States.
“This movement will actually be the movement that stops the school shootings. This will be the movement that stops the crime in our streets. This will be the movement that stops the sexual immorality and teaches children and brings them up in traditional families and loving homes,” Greene insisted.
First, let’s define Christian Nationalism.
According to the most comprehensive report explaining the link between the January 6th insurrection and Christian Nationalism…
Christian nationalism is a political ideology and cultural framework that seeks to merge American and Christian identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s constitutional democracy. Christian nationalism relies on the mythological founding of the United States as a “Christian nation,” singled out for God’s providence in order to fulfill God’s purposes on earth. Christian nationalism demands a privileged place for Christianity in public life, buttressed by the active support of government at all levels.
Given its actual definition as an ethno-cultural movement bent on political power, Christian Nationalism is the most urgent threat to the future of democracy and the peaceful transfer of power in the United States today.
Here are just a few reasons why Christian Nationalism is such a dangerous ideology.
Christian Nationalism Places One Religion Above All Others
Christian Nationalism privileges Christianity in a nation of people who hold a variety of religious beliefs or don’t adhere to any religion at all.
The United States is a pluralistic country, and that can be a strength. We have the opportunity to be a haven for many kinds of people and we can learn from each other’s differences.
Yet Christian Nationalism says that America is a “Christian nation” which, intentionally or not, places one religion on a pedestal above all others. While it is true that a majority of Americans have identified as Christians, this does not entitle one religious group to receive preferential treatment in a nation with the separation of church and state.
Under Christian Nationalism Jewish people, Muslims, Sikhs, agnostics, atheists and anyone else who does not practice Christianity is automatically put in the category of “other.”
The belief that the United States is a uniquely Christian nation makes it easier to discriminate against anyone who is not Christian.
Christian Nationalism Is Linked to Beliefs in the QAnon Conspiracy Theory
Those who adhere strongly to Christian Nationalism are more likely to believe in QAnon—the right-wing conspiracy theory that alleges that a “deep state” cabal of politicians, business leaders, and entertainers who are also pedophiles are conspiring to ruin the nation.
One study found that 73 percent of those who adhere most strongly to Christian Nationalist ideas believe in the QAnon conspiracy.
Part of the web of specious QAnon beliefs is the lie that the November 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from former president Donald Trump and handed to president Joe Biden unlawfully.
A report by the Public Religion Research Institute found that “Seven in ten QAnon believers agree with the statement that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump (69%), including just under half (47%) who completely agree with the statement.”
The violent insurrection, where Christian Nationalism was on public display, put the nation at the closest point it has ever been to overturning a lawful presidential election and jeopardizing the peaceful transfer of power.
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Christian Nationalists Are More Likely to Approve the Use of Violence
Christian Nationalist are more likely to oppose gun control efforts and approve the use of violence for political ends.
In their book The Flag and the Cross, sociologists Philip Gorski and Samuel Perry, explain that the more people identify with Christian Nationalism, “the more strongly they support gun-toting good guys taking on (real or imagined) bad guys, the more frequent use of the death penalty, and any-means-necessary policing.”
Christian Nationalism condones, sometimes even celebrates, violence. Rather than being peacemakers, they tend to favor violent tactics in pursuit of control.
A high affinity for Christian Nationalist beliefs have also been linked to riskier behavior in the COVID-19 pandemic, xenophobia toward certain immigrants, support of increased voting restrictions, and more.
Christian Nationalism Perverts the Christianity of Christ
Marjorie Taylor Greene does not acknowledge the social, ethnic, and political dimensions of the phrase “Christian Nationalism. (It is also notable that she omits the “white” preamble of Christian Nationalism, thereby ignoring the racial implications of the ideology.)
She likely hears the words “Christian” and “Nationalism” and thinks they are unequivocally good. She, like many others, will defend her religion as much as possible. She also probably interprets nationalism as a positive term that simply means a love for one’s country.
But in its pursuit of authoritarianism and belief in a mythic origin story of the United States, Christian Nationalism betrays the very religion it claims to follow.
Jesus rejected lies and said the truth will set you free (John 8:32). He did not use misinformation and conspiracy to amass a following for himself.
Jesus laid down his power in order to serve others (Philippians 2:7). He did not acquire political power to impose his teachings on others.
Jesus did not resort to violence, even to defend himself, but used compassion, healing, and hope to disarm his opponents (Matthew 26:52).
Jesus did not attack those who had the least political, financial, or social power. He said that whatever his followers did for the least of his brothers and sisters, they did for him (Matthew 25:40).
To paraphrase Frederick Douglas, a man who loved this nation enough to want to see it live up to its ideals and worked vigorously toward that end…
Between the Christianity of Christ and the Christianity of Christian Nationalism, I recognize the widest possible difference. So wide that to receive the one as beneficial, inclusive, and democratic is of necessity to reject the other as dangerous, exclusionary, and authoritarian.
To follow Christ is to reject the Christian Nationalist ideology.
Majorie Taylor Greene and her allies can follow Jesus’s teachings or the teachings of Christian Nationalism, but they cannot do both.