White Christian Nationalists Are Scrambling to Respond to Public Criticism of their Ideology
An event hosted by the Family Research Council and Regent University reveals their confusion and ignorance about what to do.
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By now you’ve likely heard the term “white Christian Nationalism.” The phrase has increasingly become part of the cultural vernacular to help explain the authoritarian and anti-democratic forces trampling time-honored political traditions such as the peaceful transfer of power.
Defining the Term
I define white Christian nationalism this way…
White Christian Nationalism
White Christian Nationalism is an ethnocultural ideology that uses Christian symbolism to create a permission structure for the acquisition of political power and social control.
Now that the term has gained wider recognition, white Christian Nationalists, many of them pastors and politicians, are attempting to explain and rebrand the the ideology.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the personification of “saying the quiet part out loud”, proudly proclaimed on Twitter, “I call myself a Christian nationalist and that’s not a bad word.”
Christian Nationalists organized and led “Jericho Marches” across the country in support of “The Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former president Trump. They proudly fused their understanding of Christianity and what they considered the righteous cause of overturning valid election results.
But scholars, experts and activists are on to them. They are calling out white Christian nationalism for what it is—the most urgent threat to democracy and the witness of the church in the United States today.
The Scramble to Respond
One sign of the growing unease of white Christian nationalists is a town hall event called “The Rise of the Term Christian Nationalism: Where did it come from and why is it being used?”
They describe the purpose of their event to explain where the term came from, why it is being spoken of so frequently, and how it is supposedly used to “suppress” conservative votes.
One of the speakers, Dr. Mark David Hall, said that white Christian Nationalism, “is a term invented by critics.”
He neglects to mention that those “critics” are not only scholars, experts, and activists well-versed in identifying white Christian nationalism, but many of them are also Christians themselves.
One of the presenters for the town hall took particular aim at some comments I made on social media.
Steven Conglin shared several screen shots of tweets I had posted and added his own commentary (see below). I’m not sure why he singled me out, but I am glad that my stance against white Christian nationalism is clear and unequivocal.
The entire event demonstrated a lack of clear understanding of the technical uses of the white Christian nationalism and displayed how Christians on the far right are scrambling to understand it and respond to those who disagree with its tenets.
Faithful America, an organization dedicated to advocating for the rights of all people in the United States, not just conservative Christians, organized an event in response to the town hall.
I participated in the event along with Rev. Jen Butler, Rev. Nathan Empsall, and Rev. Adam Russell.
We defined white Christian nationalism, rebutted specific comments and lines of reasoning from the town hall, and encouraged all people, especially Christians, to continue pointing out the dangers of white Christian nationalism.
You can view our response here: The Threat of Christian Nationalism
The desperate clambering to either rebrand or reject the term white Christian nationalism means our efforts are starting to have an effect.
While stalwart adherents may not change their perspectives, by continually identifying white Christian nationalism and the danger it presents to true freedom, we can make it harder for this ideology to spread unchecked.
Keep talking about white Christian nationalism. Keep defining it. Keep explaining it. Keep sharing about it on social media and in-person. Keep reminding people there are other ways to think about God and nation and faith and politics.
We have no guarantee that white Christian nationalists will not succeed in their political program to undermine democracy or in their aims to co-opt an entire religion, but we can and must make sure we are not silent about it.