The Canard of Christian Nationalism

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“No one in the media raises an eyebrow when ‘faith’ is erroneously used to justify trillion-dollar taxpayer programs or when ‘faith’ is used to undercut a traditional Christian worldview…. Conservative Christians have as much of a right as progressives do under our Constitution to petition our government, elect leaders, and shape the moral foundation of our land.”

JASON MATTERA

Have you ever castrated a bull?

No?

Me neither.

But from what I’m told by friends who have, it’s not a pleasant experience, either for the bull or the person castrating the bull. One of the reasons for castration, if I understand it correctly, is to curtail their aggressiveness, making them easier to handle.

It also prevents breeding.

Without their testicles, these bulls can no longer reproduce their own kind.

That last part about reproduction deserves special attention as we consider the loud media campaign to undermine Christian engagement in the public square, to neuter it, if you will.

I’m speaking of the canard frequently referred to as “Christian Nationalism.”

Over the last few years, we’ve been subjected to a barrage of “alarming” stories in left-stream media outlets about the rise of this scary, menacing boogeyman. Christian Nationalism, as the hyperventilating goes, poses a danger to the well-being of the United States and is a betrayal of genuine Christianity.

Is that true?

For starters, most people hadn’t even heard of Christian Nationalism until two seconds ago. The definition of this alleged ideology and whether it’s an actual political powerbroker in the country are still part of ongoing academic debates, as are the agreed-upon distinctives that would help identify one as a legitimate Christian Nationalist.

But those debates appear to be wasted energy.

That’s because this mounting interest in Christian Nationalism, at least from the media’s perspective, isn’t an academic one; it’s not a serious examination to understand a so-called burgeoning faction in America. Rather, the label of Christian Nationalism is the latest bid to stigmatize Christians who are active in conservative causes, an underhanded attempt to suppress their impact in civic affairs.

The Associated Press, for instance, branded GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano a Christian Nationalist because he quoted the Bible during a victory speech — “God uses the foolish to confound the wise” — and because he said that the phrase “separation of church and state,” a phrase nowhere found in the First Amendment, is a “myth.”

Mr. Mastriano, for his part, rejects the characterization of Christian Nationalist, like most people billed as such, because it’s used as a “pejorative,” the AP notes.

See that — the candidate himself, who has an established track record as a Pennsylvania state senator, rejects the moniker and the AP concedes that the term has been weaponized as a “pejorative,” and yet the AP employs it anyway while covering a major race for governor.

No bias there. Move along now.

“Pejorative,” however, is the right word to capture the intent of those pounding the table the loudest against Christian Nationalism. Consider this recent dispatch from the New York Times, which published an op-ed titled “Christian Nationalists Are Excited About What Comes Next.”

What the author Katherine Stewart lacks in biblical literacy and thoughtful reporting, she sure makes up in overheated rhetoric:

“The shape of the Christian nationalist movement in the post-Roe future is coming into view, and it should terrify anyone concerned for the future of constitutional democracy.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to rescind the reproductive rights that American women have enjoyed over the past half-century will not lead America’s homegrown religious authoritarians to retire from the culture wars and enjoy a sweet moment of triumph. On the contrary, movement leaders are already preparing for a new and more brutal phase of their assault on individual rights and democratic self-governance. Breaking American democracy isn’t an unintended side effect of Christian nationalism. It is the point of the project.”

And that’s only the first two paragraphs.

Never mind that Roe’s demise means that states get to legislate their own abortion policies democratically — unlike the previous framework which imposed abortion policies by judicial fiat. What Stewart’s underlying assumption is really stating is that Christians have no business venturing into the activities of civil government.

That’s what all the fuss is about.

Those throwing the biggest temper tantrums regarding Christian Nationalism are doing so because they despise any push by Christians to “reproduce” other biblically grounded Christians in the areas of law, politics, and culture.

They want us to chop off our own testicles, so to speak.

What could’ve been a helpful exercise to evaluate evangelical support for political candidates in 2020, and, if need be, bring good-faith correction to any excess that was on display, quickly morphed into a fanatical crusade to render Christians impotent on the important issues of our day, from election integrity to school curriculum to abortion regulations.

The real target isn’t Christian Nationalism, whatever that is. Or even “people of faith” in politics.

The real target is conservative Christians in politics.

That much is clear.

After she was barred from receiving communion by San Francisco’s archbishop, Nancy Pelosi scolded opposition to abortion as “not consistent with the Gospel of Matthew.” Pelosi has previously quoted Scripture in a gambit to legalize large swaths of illegal aliens and once told a room full of supporters that she pursues legislation as House Speaker “that would be in keeping with the values of the Word,” a reference to John 1:1.

All this time, that sly Christian Nationalist Nancy Pelosi has been strutting the halls of Congress in her designer pantsuits and plastic smile.

Who knew?

Or how about Stacy Abrams, who gave us this defense of unlimited abortion access on the Georgia campaign trail: “And for me, the decision to be pro-choice is exactly part of my faith…my faith says you protect the vulnerable and you wrap them in your love.”

Even the spawn of Hillary and Bill Clinton flirted with some of that intolerable Christian Nationalism lingo back in 2018. Chelsea Clinton argued that as “a deeply religious person,” returning to a pre-Roe America is “un-Christian to me.”

That’s the acceptable form of Christian Nationalism because it reinforces and doesn’t challenge liberal orthodoxy.

Deifying the State is the only form of public worship allowed.

Put another way, no one in the media raises an eyebrow when “faith” is erroneously used to justify trillion-dollar taxpayer programs or when “faith” is used to undercut a traditional Christian worldview.

Yet when conservative Christians accurately use the Bible to inform their views on when life begins, on human sexuality, and on the limited role God assigns to civil government, and then carry out those views as citizens, the whipped-up anxiety over a looming theocracy makes a comeback.

The “outrage” is selective, ideologically driven, and absurd.

For example, here’s what the New York Times ludicrously portrays as Christian Nationalism:

These developments represent a plan to “hollow out democracy until nothing is left but a thin cover for rule by a supposedly right-thinking elite,” writes Katherine Stewart.

What a drama queen.

For all the talk about how democracy is under duress, Stewart really doesn’t like it when Christians engage in the democratic process themselves to influence society according to biblical precepts. Of course, Stewart is trying to do the very same thing — influence society — but from a secular standpoint. The difference is that she is demanding Christians remove themselves from the process altogether so that she and her comrades don’t have any competition in the battle for the hearts and minds of the American populace.

She doesn’t want us reproducing biblically motivated Christians outside of the Church because to do so would pose a threat, not to democracy, but to her progressive pipedreams.

Too bad for her.

Christians have a duty to cultivate the material world. This means laboring faithfully to see that our families, our churches, our neighborhoods, and yes, our nations reflect God’s standard of justice and righteousness, which is done through the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps the New York Times has heard of the Great Commission? It’s kind of a big deal.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

Nothing is excluded from Christ’s redemptive mission of the cross.

“All authority” and “all nations” means just that — “all.”

It’s comprehensive.

This posture isn’t a conspiracy of Christian Nationalism, it’s basic Christianity.

We are further exhorted by Jesus to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world,” which includes improving the social environment that we find ourselves in. It’s not limited to that, obviously, but for Christians to disengage from voting or campaigning or from participating in policy debates because we don’t want to upset the sensibilities of left-wing editorial boards and bitter journalists would be to abdicate our responsibility to preach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) in our communities and in our country.

Now, I don’t expect the New York Times to understand any of these theological points, or even care to understand them, as it doesn’t comport with their pre-existing biases that America has always been and must remain a secular nation governed by secular creeds.

But who cares?

We have as much of a right as progressives do under our Constitution to petition our government, elect leaders, and shape the moral foundation of our land.

They have no choice except to deal with it.


Follow Jason on Twitter! @JasonMattera