Home Christian News An Unholy Alliance: Christianity and Nationalism

An Unholy Alliance: Christianity and Nationalism

“The American church is not being persecuted from the outside. It is being perverted from the inside & they are losing an entire generation in the process. When the autopsy on evangelicalism is done, the cause of death will not be liberalism, CRT [Critical Race Theory], social justice, or wokeness. It will be Christian Nationalism.”

So What Is Christian Nationalism?

Like many other ideological labels, Christian nationalism is easy enough to define but harder to decide who may fit its description. Just as there may be varying degrees to which one may subscribe to the agenda of a particular political party, there are varying degrees to which a person might identify with Christian nationalism. And, given its negative connotation, those who may fit its description will likely push back against the label.

According to Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the co-author of Taking America Back for God, Christian nationalism is “a cultural framework—a collection of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems—that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life…” Additionally, Whitehead and his co-author Samuel Perry argue that Christian nationalism “includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism. It is as ethnic and political as it is religious.”

The group Christians Against Christian Nationalism says, “Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian.” 

Another working definition of Christian nationalism could be using the Bible or Christian beliefs in an effort to push a nationalist agenda. For instance, in the United States, that could look like making arguments that essentially say the Bible makes a case for protecting one’s borders, so it stands to reason that God would want us to limit the number of refugees we admit and build a border wall.

In their book, Whitehead and Perry explain how researchers identify Christian nationalists. Using polls, researchers identify Christian nationalists as those who agree with statements such as these:

“The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation.”
“The success of the United States is part of God’s plan.”
“The federal government should advocate Christian values.”

Additionally, research shows Christian nationalists also are more likely to:

Approve of authoritarian tactics like demanding people show respect for national symbols and traditions.
Condone police violence toward Black Americans and distrust accounts of racial inequality in the criminal justice system.
Hold anti-immigrant views.
Oppose scientists and science education in schools.
Believe that men are better suited for all leadership roles while women are better suited to care for children and the home.

A point of clarification here: This is not to say that people who believe, for instance, only men should be ordained are Christian nationalists. Rather, it means those people identified by researchers as Christian nationalists are more likely to also identify as complementarians, for instance.