Christian nationalism is an issue that continues to loom large in American political discourse, as well as among church leaders and Christians seeking to engage with politics in a way that aligns with their faith.
Some evangelical leaders who identify with conservative, and particularly Republican, politics have expressed their frustration with the term “Christian nationalism,” seeing it as a slur aimed at discrediting faithful followers of Jesus in the public sphere.
Jack Graham, who pastors Prestonwood Baptist, a megachurch in Texas, and who at one time served as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted on Tuesday (October 4), “The accusations of ‘Christian Nationalism’ is the latest tactic of the left to run believers off the field of political engagement. I’m not buying it.”
Others, instead of rejecting the term, have come to embrace it. This trend was set by congressional representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who began touting Christian nationalism at a conservative conference in July. She has gone on to continue advocating for Republicans to identify as Christian nationalists, even making branded merchandising to that effect available for purchase.
Since that time, some church leaders have begun expressing similar sentiments.
Nevertheless, little consensus exists on how to define and identify Christian nationalism, with many conservative church leaders and politicians equating the term with merely being a faithful Christian with regard to civic engagement, while historians and sociologists identify the term with a particular brand of white nationalism wedded to Christian identity.
This week, current Southern Baptist Convention president Bart Barber weighed in with his thoughts on Christian nationalism via a Twitter thread.
“A reporter recently asked me about Christian Nationalism. He asked me about a lot of things, and that material didn’t make the cut, so I feel free to share it (expanded a bit) here,” Barber began his thread.
“I love my country. I’m a proud American. At FBC Farmersville, we encourage people to obey Romans 13:7 individually, and we sometimes obey it corporately, giving thanks to God for our nation in our corporate worship,” Barber explained. His biblical reference includes Paul’s words to the Roman churches: “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
“So, these are not the words of a reactionary,” the SBC president and rural church pastor wrote. “Nevertheless.”