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Wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross

Jim Opionin by Jim Powers
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“When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” Attributed to the writer Sinclair Lewis

“I’m a Christian. How many Christians do we have here? See, I also call myself a Christian nationalist and that’s not a bad word. That’s actually a good thing, right? …I think that’s what the Republican Party needs to be about.” U.S. Rep. (R)  Margorie Tayler Greene

What is Christian Nationalism and why may it not be as good a thing as MTG thinks? To come up with a definition, we must first consider the meaning of nationalism, which is a study in itself. Fundamentally, we can divide humanity into very distinct cultural groups that have shared traits. These could include religion, but also culture, language, or ethnicity.

Nationalists take this farther and believe that these groups should have their own governments. It is the government’s responsibility to protect the cultural indentity of the groups.

In the same way, Christian nationalists, like MTG above, believe that Christianity defines America, and it is the responsibility of the government to maintain that culture, that we must remain a Christian Nation or the country and its identity will be lost if the culture is allowed to change. That Christianity should be privileged by the government over other interests.

If you look at the polls, you will notice that there is no unique culture in this country. Cultures vary from place to place, and within states, cities, areas. The only way to make one culture dominant is to suppress others, forcing them by some means to conform. 

When you decide to define a country by a religion, you start deciding who is, and who is not, a part of your nation. There are, for example, according to the 2020 Pew Research Center estimate, 7.5 million Jews in this country. I’m not sure what MTG plans to do as a Christian Nationalist about those Jews, who aren’t going to suddenly convert to Christianity, but history has an instructive example of one solution that eliminated about the same number that we surely don’t want to repeat.

This whole idea of America as a Christian nation is nothing more than a red herring. Those who promote that idea start by claiming the Founding Fathers were Christians (they were mostly Deists), and then pointing out today that 65 percent of Americans say they are Christians. Beyond the fact that many who describe themselves as Christians seldom, if ever, attend a church service or have ever read the bible, is that 65 percent number is a snapshot in time that is rapidly declining.

Here are some numbers from Pew Research polling that are instructive when trying to define the culture of America as distinctly Christian.

Among Americans in the Silent Generation (born 1928-1945), 84 percent say they are Christians. Among Baby Boomers (1945-64), 76 percent say they are Christian. Among Gen X-ers (1965-80), 67 percent say they are Christians; and, among Millennials (1981-96), 49 percent say they are Christians. The numbers continue to decline, year over year. There are two takeaways here.

First, Christianity has been declining as a dominant cultural force in the United States for decades. And, secondly, the two groups most dominated by folks claiming to be Christians will have almost completely died out in 20 years. And year after year from there on, Christian cultural influence in this country will dramatically decline. 

MTG and other Christian Nationalists are aware of these numbers. And they understand the implications to their effort to hold onto power. The only way they see to stop the progressive direction of the future is to use the power of government to force others to conform. This is dangerous stuff. It ends up restricting religious liberty, where the government begins making legislation regulating morals and beliefs. It results in racism and restrictions in liberty.

Christianity and Christian Nationalism are incompatible. Christianity is a religion about Jesus, who spoke to all people, from every nation, with a faith intended to unite all people. Christian Nationalism is a political ideology, intended to separate Christians from all people in he U.S. It’s centered on the national identity of the U.S. While Christian Nationalists assume that God ordained the U.S. to hold some special place in his plan, that is a completely extrabiblical construct. Nowhere in the bible is the U.S. named the chosen people of God.

These continuing efforts to slice and dice the people of the United States into warring factions are efforts of control. Create anarchy, get the people shooting at each other, then have a leader boldly declare, “Only I can fix it.”

“This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

T.S. Elliot – The Hollow Men.

Elliot was asked later if he would write the same lines again, and he said he would not. According to Henry Hewes, “(One reason) is that he is not sure the world (will end) with either a bang or a whimper. People whose houses were bombed have told him they don’t remember hearing anything.”

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Monday, 15 August 2022