Christian nationalism in America

2020-06-29

in Law, Politics

Today’s [Christian nationalist] movement leaders have declared a new holy war against America’s ethnically and religiously diverse democracy. Yet the vision of a nation founded on hierarchies enshrined in purportedly biblical law remains now, as it was with the Confederacy and Jim Crow, the foundation of a weak society, not a strong one. If we want to guard against demagogues and theocrats who wish to ‘redeem’ America, we don’t need a new theory of American democracy. We just need to recover and restore the vision of a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal.

Many leaders of the Christian right like to dress up in red, white, and blue to annouce themselves as true patriots. But they are the same people who seek to pervert our institutions, betray our international alliances and make friends with despots, degrade the public discourse, treat the Constitution as a subcategory of their holy texts, demean whole segments of the population, foist their authoritarian creed upon other people’s children, and celebrate the elevation of a ‘king’ to the presidency who has made a sport of violating democratic laws and norms. We don’t need lessons on patriotism from Christian nationalists. We need to challenge them in the name of the nation we actually have—a pluralistic, democratic nation—where no one is above the law and the laws are meant to be made by the people and their representatives in accordance with the Constitution.

Stewart, Katherine. The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020. p. 275–6

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan June 29, 2020 at 5:35 am

“Christian nationalism is not a religious creed but, in my view, a political ideology. It promotes the myth that the American republic was founded as a Christian nation. It asserts that legitimate government rests not on the consent of the governed but on adherence to the doctrines of a specific religious, ethnic, and cultural heritage. It demands that our lawa be based not on the reasoned deliberation of our democratic institutions but on particular, idiosyncratic interpretations of the Bible. Its defining fear is that the nation has strayed from the truths that once made it great. Christian nationalism looks backward on a fictionalized history of America’s allegedly Christian founding. It looks forward to a future in which its versions of the Christian religion and its adherents, along with their political allies, enjoy positions of exceptional privilege in government and in law.

Christian nationalism is also a device for mobilizing (and often manipulating) large segments of the population and concentrating power in the hands of a new elite. It does not merely reflect the religious identity it pretends to defend but actively works to construct and promote new varieties of religion for the sake of accumulating power. It actively generates or exploits cultural conflict in order to improve its grip on the target population.” (p. 4)

. July 1, 2020 at 6:11 pm
. July 2, 2020 at 1:20 am
. July 8, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Supreme Court decision broadens religious exemptions to contraception coverage for employers

Contraception mandates of Obama’s Affordable Care Act have drawn the ire of religious organizations

. July 14, 2020 at 4:20 pm

The Cost of the Evangelical Betrayal – The Atlantic

Much of the evangelical movement, in aligning itself with Donald Trump, has shown itself to be graceless and joyless, seized by fear, hypocritical, censorious, and filled with grievances. That is not true of all evangelicals, of course, and it’s not true of all evangelicals who are Trump supporters. But it’s true of enough of them, and certainly of the political leadership of the white evangelical movement, to have done deep injury to their public witness

. July 22, 2020 at 11:57 pm

And he finds that practising evangelicals score the highest on his index of racism. He concludes that white Christian identity is “independently predictive” of racist attitudes.

Such claims are shocking. But, Mr Jones argues, the history of American Christianity makes this likelier than it might sound. The dominant southern strains of white evangelicalism were formed amid and sometimes in response to slavery. The Southern Baptists, America’s biggest denomination, was launched to defend it biblically—which it did by representing black skin as the accursed “mark of Cain”. Many southern pastors were cheerleaders for the Confederacy, then shaped the culture of nostalgia and lament (the “religion of the lost cause”) that precluded a reckoning with Jim Crow’s legacy. The stained-glass windows of some southern churches still sparkle with Confederate flags. Almost 90% of white evangelicals consider the flag “more a symbol of southern pride than of racism”.

Post-war pessimism also led evangelicals to adopt a premillennialist theology, which viewed the world as irredeemable by man. Instead of wasting their time on social justice, it urged them to focus on their individual spirituality. The perverse effect, argues Mr Jones, was to imbue white evangelicals with “an unassailable sense of religious purity” that blinded them to their own behaviour. History records instances of white congregations pouring out of church to a lynching. And such scenes were not restricted to evangelicals or the South.

. August 3, 2020 at 5:52 pm

Perhaps the most significant development chronicled in Reaganland is the emergence of the so-called religious right, in which a socially conservative, theologically populist Christianity became deeply connected to the right wing of the Republican Party. https://slate.com/culture/2020/08/rick-perlstein-reaganland-book-review.html

. August 9, 2020 at 9:43 pm

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