The Problem of Christian Nationalism

by | April 10, 2024

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Learned of This Problem First Hand

Lest you think that I am a “heathen,” please know that I occupied the following leadership positions at an evangelical church until I “saw the light” in 2020: Youth Director, Music Director, Adult Christian Education Teacher, Secretary of the Board, Assistant Chairman of a Financial Campaign, Director of Small Groups, Chairman of the Stewardship Campaign that resulted in purchasing 40 acres east of our existing church and building a new church on the new site, local pulpit supply as needed, manager, keyboard player, and singer with two traveling music groups. I even preached revivials at other churches. I was Mr. Evangelical.

At our local evangelical church, I was the Music Director for years. I directed the choir, led the congregational singing, and later led a 5-piece band and praise team (vocal ensemble) as we made the transition to contemporary Christian music. Even the first eight years of my teaching career were at a Christian School.

Years before Donald Trump, I vividly remember a July 4 weekend in which the holiday fell on Sunday. I selected the songs at church and chose intentionallly not to sing any that combined America with religion. I chose to take Jesus at his word. John 18:36. Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

I believed that God was for all people and in all people. Not just Americans! He was God of all His creation – every skin color and every nation, not just Americans. To sing the Star Spangled Banner at church did not seem right to me. So we did not.

Oh man! You would have thought that I committed blasphemy. When I got home that Sunday, I had three messages on my answering machine waiting for me. I heard the judgement loud and clear – mostly from senior adults:

“Why did you not sing the Star Spangled Banner. Our founding fathers established this nation as a Christian nation. Are you embarassed of America?

This very angry reaction from some “Christians” started me thinking and researching. I am thankful for their anger because it led to this blog being written.

The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians

I hate to break it to you but in case you did not know, the key Founders of our nation who were most responsible for the Declaration of Independence and the Constituion were not Christians. There were were theistic rationalists.

Yes, most of the founding fathers believed in a Master Designer/Creator but their central belief was that religion was indispensible to society because it engendered morality. However, they believed that virtually all religions fullfilled that purpose – not just Christianity.

Remember the environment from which they came. The King of England supported the Church of England and expected others to do the same. Its ministers were bound by oath to support the King. The Founders of our nation did NOT want to repeat this mistake. That is why they believed in and practiced freedom from religion.

Did you know that only one of the 56 founding fathers was a member of the clergy. Were you aware that James Madison objected to chaplains opening the proceedings of Congress with prayer.

Do you really believe that people will ignore the Bible if the Ten Commandments are not posted in courtrooms or if the nativity scene in town squares shares space with a menorah?

When people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” at Wal-Mart, are they attacking Jesus? The answer to both of those questions is a resounding NO!

The notion that our country’s roots are explicitly Christian—is both foolish and wrong. It devalues the Christian faith and disrespects the genius of the founding fathers.

Even the great Thomas Jefferson used a razor to cut out passages from six different Bibles that he could not support through reason or that he later believed were embellishments, including the Resurrection!

The founders never intended to create a “Christian nation.” Not a single Founding Father made any such a claim on any piece of private correspondence or any document.

If they had, it would be blazoned above the entrances of countless Christian schools and we would all be inundated with social media posts and emails repeating it.

The Problem of Combining America and Religion

Christian nationalism says that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that Christianity should be prioritized by the state. Even when it is not stated, Christian nationalism implicitly calls for the U.S. to be a white Christian nation. This is just plain wrong. By 2050, black and brown skin people will be in the majority.

By definition, Christian nationalism is incompatible with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the government from imposing or endorsing a particular religion. But Christian nationalists would prefer that we ignore the Constitution and the Founders’ intent.

A Republican Problem

A growing number of Republicans now espouse Christian nationalism. Representive to the U.S. congress, Lauren Boebert of Colorado argued recently “the church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church.” Really? I did not know that. The church is supposed to direct the government, huh? Which religion? Which church?
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia put it more bluntly. “I’m a Christian and I say it proudly,” she said. “We should be Christian nationalists.”

In both cases, I say consider the source.

Illustrating that Christian nationalist ideas are moving further and further into the mainstream, a recent survey by Politico found that 61% of Republicans and 17% of Democrats believe the U.S. should declare itself a Christian nation. The poll also found that “white grievance is highly correlated with support for a Christian nation.”

Christian nationalism often overlaps with and provides protection for white supremacy. It holds down black and brown people. Would Jesus subjugate others because skin color?

The Problem of Christian Nationalism and Violence

An even more dangerous aspect of Christian nationalism is its acceptance of violence. Christian nationalism argues that Americans are an exceptional, chosen people who will eventually face an apocalyptic end-times battle with evil.

Trump has changed his political party at least five times, was a Democrat for eight years, and has given more than $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. I guess that Trump is the evil one, correct?

Trump has picked up on apocalyptic language and appeals to certain people by repeating these and other similar lines:

“Our country is going to hell in a handbasket.”
“You better fight like hell or you are not going to have a country anymore.”
“We don’t want immigrants from Haiti or Africa. Those are shithole countries.”
“We only want immigrants from nice countries like Denmark.”
“Black people are trying to steal the heritage of white people.”
“Those that oppose me are vermin and I will root them out if elected.”
“People that come into this country illegally are animals, they are not human.”
“This election is our nation’s final battle. My opponents are vermin and pose a greater threat to the United States than Russia, China, or North Korea.”

Notice the apocalyptic end-times language that he uses? These are actual quotes from the supposed Christian Trump. These statements are his language not mine.

Let me ask you Christians something . . . Would Jesus talk like that and call others names? I think we both know the answer to that question.

The Problem of the Insurrection

There is no doubt in my mind, and the bipartisan, Jan. 6 congressional panel agrees with me, the former President Trump stoked the violence on January 6, 2021.

The fighting on January 6, 2021— so primitive and ferocious that one Capitol Police officer described it as “medieval” and another as a “trip to hell” — left more than 100 law enforcement personnel injured, some beaten with their own weapons.

Video cameras captured the violence live, with rioters clubbing officers with flag polls and fire extinguishers, even squeezing one between doors as he begged for his life. What would Jesus Do? (WWJD?)

Yet nearly a year after the Jan. 6 siege only about 4 in 10 Republicans recall the attack by supporters of then-President Donald Trump as very violent or extremely violent, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. About 3 in 10 Republicans say the attack was not violent, and about another 3 in 10 say it was somewhat violent.

It is important to note that about two-thirds of Americans described the day as very or extremely violent, including about 9 in 10 Democrats.

The lie the the election was stolen and the false portrayal of the siege taking hold among Republicans, has occurred despite extensive video footage that shows the ransacking of the building in harrowing detail.

Trump and some allies in Congress and conservative media have played it down, falsely characterizing the attack as a minor civil disturbance. Repeat a lie enough times and some may believe it.

Just like a “normal tourist vist.” Right?

Hand-Delivered Letters to Top Republicans

Did you know that dozens of military veterans recently hand-delivered letters to top Republicans in the U.S. House, calling on them to publicly condemn political violence? Did these top Republicans do so? Tell me what you have heard. I’ll wait.

Former Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone wrote the letter, which was signed by more than 1,000 military veterans, active duty members, law enforcement officers and military families. Fanone, who was beaten and tased by rioters during the attack on the Capitol, delivered a copy to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s office.
Veterans also delivered letters to GOP Reps. James Comer of Kentucky, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and Elise Stefanik of New York.

Did you realize that Trump’s minions are making threats of bodily harm and carrying out some of those threats now against the FBI, judges, District Attorneys, and prosecuting attorneys . . . and their family members? Serious threats to US federal judges have more than doubled over the past three years, part of a growing wave of politically driven violence, according to U.S. marshalls service data. I am sure that Jesus would attack judges or approve of this. Correct?

The U.S. Marshalls, who are responsible for the protection of 2,700 federal judges and more than 30,000 federal prosecutors and other court personnel, report a sharp rise in threats since Trump’s own actions got him in trouble.

The escalation and normalization of violent rhetoric has extended beyond Trump, becoming a dangerous feature of Republican campaigns and party messaging.

This us-versus-them thinking positions the “other” as a dire threat that has to be defeated out of a moral duty to defend Christian values and prevent the nation from falling into darkness according to Trump and people like him.

And that “other,” increasingly, is the other major political party, the Democrats, or as some Republicans now call them, “demoncrats.” From “Sleepy Joe Biden” to “Crooked Joe,” Trump calls everyone something negative including the wives of men in his own party, Senator Mitch McConnel and Ted Cruz.

WWJD? I am sure that Jesus would defame others and sexually molest women as the former President has.

Christian Nationalism is Growing

While Christian nationalistic ideas have existed in the United States for centuries, the term grew in popularity after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where some rioters carried Christian flags, crosses and Bibles. A group of insurrectionists stopped to pray after breaking into the U.S. Senate chamber. WWJD?

Polling shows support for the ideology is divided by party and age. A University of Maryland poll of 2,091 people earlier this year indicates most Republicans believe the U.S. Constitution would not allow for the United States to declare itself a Christian nation, but 61% support doing so anyway.

Christian nationalism is more likely to be shunned by younger generations and embraced by older generations, according to the poll: More than half of Silent Generation and baby boomer respondents of either party supported declaring the U.S. a Christian nation, but only of 25% of millennials and 34% of generation z agreed. Maybe millennials and generation z see the hypocrisy. I do.

Cloaking a Sinister Agenda

Adherents of the Christian nationalist movement are trying to use the mechanisms of governmental power to give preference to Christian thought, Christian people and Christian laws. What about Muslims? Hindus? Jews? Buddhists? Agnostics? Atheists? Do we put them into camps and “re-educate” them? WWJD?

It has become apparent that Christian Nationalism if often used to cloak a sinister agenda. It was at the heart of many of the atrocities that our ancestors did to others: stealing the land from native Americans, forcing them to live on reservations, chattel slavery, racial discrimination, Jim Crow laws, voter suppression, and even mass incarceration There have always been tentacles of Christian nationalism present.

Apart from the growing national prominence of Christian nationalism, it is also becoming pervasive among state and local elected officials. Some in charge of state and local governments and school boards are Christian Nationalists who would like to see a theocracy in this country.

Christian Nationalism Does Not Belong in Christianity

Let me be clear: Christian nationalism does not belong at all in Christianity.

What I have seen is that many “Christians” advocate for a fusion of Christianity with American civil life by domination. This is the type of Christian Nationalism exhibited by some on January 6, 2021. This is the complete merger of God and country and advocating for it by force or violence when deemed necessary.

The words “Christian Nationalism” is, at its core, a confusion of words and categories. Although we can affirm and even celebrate the role Christianity has played in America as a nation, America cannot ever be described as a “Christian nation.” No nation-state can be a Christian nation-state because Christianity does not work that way. It is voluntarily chosen.

Christianity and nation-states are two vastly different entities.

In terms of access, people enter Christianity by voluntary intention (by faith and baptism) but usually enter nation-states by arbitrary historical accident (being born there).

Geographically, Christianity is not bound by borders – no lines, but all nation-states are defined by borders.

Nation-states defend their borders by using military might and building walls, but Christianity breaks down ethnic barriers and crosses borders to welcome all.

Unlike nation-states where the citizens are largely monocultural, Christianity encourages diversity and multi-culturalism.

Nation-states are interested in their own agendas, but Christians put others before themselves.

Nation-states see their own shortcomings as not living up to their ideals and potential, but Christians recognize their shortcomings stem from their inherent, corrupt nature.

The hope of nation-states is utopia by their own ingenuity, but Christianity says utopia will only be brought by another. See the differences?


Up until I saw the light in 2020, I was around the evangelical church my entire life. No longer. I’ve seen, heard, and felt the negative impact of Christian Nationalism. It is wrong to try to enforce the fusion of Christianity and American civil life by force. Jesus said it himself. His kingdom is not of this world.

Christians can be against abortion and work to elect political candidates who share their beliefs. However, Christians do not threaten or kill doctors who perform abortions. Christians can march and protest, but they do not form mobs of destruction. Christians do not drive their vehicles into FBI offices or threaten those that they disagree with. Christians work to elect candidates of integrity and conviction, but they do not harass or threaten public officials at public health meetings, town halls, or school board meetings. Christians do not lie and do not cheat.

The bottom line is this: No biblical view of Christian political engagement can include vengeance, calling people names, hurting your political opponents, treating black and brown people differently because of the color of their skin, defaming women, sexually molesting women, being dishonest, greedy, and condoning violence.

The 1795 Group Can Help

We believe in being part of solutions. Let’s work together at the grass roots level to solve this problem! Perhaps you would like a guest speaker or a presentation on this topic. Perhaps you would like to have your students, learners, or employees enjoy an in-person or virtual professional development workshop in this topical area. Perhaps you need a course to be written for your learners. Whatever your need, the 1795 Group can help. Call us and let’s brainstorm ways to work together.


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Podcast: The Impact of Mis/Disinformation

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Dr. Tim Jordan

Dr. Timothy R. Jordan has been a health educator (grades 6-12), Assistant High School Principal, Associate Director of Graduate Medical Education for a large health care system, and a Professor of Public Health for the past 23 years. His areas of research include end-of-life, reducing racial/ethnic health disparities, health behavior change, chronic disease prevention, and smoking prevention and cessation. He is the founder and the current director of the 1795 Group.

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