Op-ed: White Christian nationalism must go
Andrew Whitehead, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, and Samuel Perry, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma, wrote a book last year entitled “Taking America Back For God: Christian Nationalism in the United States.” Whitehead and Perry define Christian nationalism as “a cultural framework that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life.” Christian nationalism is dangerous and abhorrent and must come to a non-violent but immediate end in our society.
To quote from the organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State, White Christian nationalism (Christian nationalism with a racial and ethnic component, as Christian nationalism almost universally has), “Rejects diversity, pluralism and religious freedom and opposes equality for people of color, women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and the nonreligious.” Christian nationalists tend to subscribe to what is referred to as Dominionist Theology.
Dominionist Theology (aka dominionism) is political but based in Christian fundamentalism. It asserts that Christians should seek to “dominate the world in the name of establishing the Kingdom of God,” as Emily Swan, co-author of “Solus Jesus: A Theology of Resistance,” and co-pastor of Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor, wrote for the publication Medium in 2019. Swan continued, “Seven mountains [a tenant of dominionism] refers to the thinking that seven major areas of human life need such Christian influence: education, religion, family, business, government/military, arts/entertainment, and media.”
This incredibly dangerous worldview was on full display on Jan. 6 when approximately 800 domestic terrorist insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol building and wreaked absolute havoc. In the raucous crowd both in and outside of the Capitol were posters and banners about Jesus and Christian faith, a crucifix, and even those trying to emulate the biblical story of the fall of the wall of Jericho. White Christian nationalism, which goes hand-in-hand with White supremacy and neo-confederate and neo-Nazi ideology, is a threat to our government and society. This nation was founded on the principles of religious pluralism and a secular government. The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …” and the 14th Amendment made this applicable to the states. Article VI, Section 3, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution reads, “but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” I could quote James Madison and John Adams and Thomas Payne all day, but that is unnecessary. The U.S. Constitution clearly says it all.
White Christian nationalism is not new, but the cult of Trump has brought it again to the fore. A quote mistakenly attributed to Sinclair Lewis but actually stated by James Waterman Wise reads, “when fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Fascism is here and it showed up just as Waterman Wise predicted. We cannot let it continue to spread unchecked.
Eric Engle is an officer and Board Member for Mid-Ohio Valley Atheists and Humanists.