Christian Nationalism – The New Racism?

Recently, Andrew Whitehead, a Sociology professor at Indiana University, along with Samuel Perry, Sociology professor at the University of Oklahoma, conducted some research on the topic of “Christian Nationalism.” According to their definition, Christian nationalism is “a cultural framework that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life.” Based on their definition, Christianity becomes more of a cultural and tribal phenomenon than a spiritual one. Thus, from the very beginning, they have defined this as a negative cultural movement that is “a threat to a pluralistic, democratic society and something that needs to be wrestled with in order to move forward ....” They additionally argue that this “kind of nationalism is dangerous. It is dangerous to civic health; it is dangerous to the health of Christianity.” Interestingly, this definition applies only to Christians who hold traditional values, not to those who adhere to some form of liberal theology.

“... kind of nationalism is dangerous. It is dangerous to civic health; it is dangerous to the health of Christianity."

But hold on a second. What are they really saying here? Essentially they are advocating two things. First, Christians who hold traditional values (Evangelical Christians, in particular) do not have a right to express their opinion about politics, and second, that those who do express an opinion about politics have abandoned the true faith and begun expressing beliefs that put the country in the place of God. This does not apply, however, to those on the left who are social justice advocates. They are allowed to legitimately talk politics because their political point of view does not accept traditional Christian values as integral to the moral and value system of our nation’s political operation. Just as racism is now widely recognized to be a societal evil, the effort is underway to turn biblical Christianity into the new racism.

In truth, this notion of Christian Nationalism is a straw man. Now to be clear, I have no doubt that there is a segment of society that does hold this view. But the implication of those who are trying to paint this picture is that it is the dominant view in Evangelical Christian circles. That is simply not true. That claim is nothing more than an attempt to use a pejorative label to scare and intimidate Christians in order to discourage them from participating in the political process. It is also designed to dismiss any policy or person who holds traditional biblical values. Thus, for instance, if a Christian proposes pro-life legislation, that individual is labeled a bigot, and the bills they put forth are deemed “Christian nationalist.” With that, they are dismissed as illegitimate. The same will be said regarding anything that represents any other traditional Christian value. The actual fact of the matter is, this entire effort is nothing more than a power play by those who are advocating for a different set of religious values.

Sadly, there is racism in America’s past. Racism consists of prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against people on the basis of their race. It needs to be understood, though, that not everyone in America, even in the early days, were racist. We see in history that there was massive push back against those who were racist. In fact, there was an actual civil war fought to eliminate it, as well as many efforts since that time to promote the American ideal that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” While there are still people who are racist, racism is now largely looked down upon as an evil attitude.

But what we see now are people using the term racist to slander others who are not really racist – all this for the purpose of scoring political points. It is an evil and despicable practice. But race is not the only thing that is being used that way. Now, Christians are being tarred by people attempting to use the same tactic – with the term “Christian Nationalist.”

I suppose it is not possible to prevent people from acting in evil ways. Those whose value system allows them to lie about other people and their motives will do it. But Christians must not stand silent against this onslaught. To be sure, we must not return evil for evil. But what we can do is return the truth for the lie. By doing that, we put ourselves in a position to not only express the glory of God in the darkness of this evil world, but to share a witness for Christ to those who desperately need Him.




Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.

You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.

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