There’s a new right-wing bogeyman out there. He’s not all that different from previous reactionary monsters and, if you look closely, he’s not much different from the progressives who are wetting themselves over him.
The terror du jour is Christian Nationalism, and Time Magazine has a fascinating primer on the subject by an academic named Andrew Whitehead.
“Christian nationalism,” Whitehead says, “refers to an ideology that asserts all civic life in the U.S. should be organized according to a particularly conservative and ethnocentric expression of Christianity.” But really, it turns out Christian Nationalism is shorthand for traits Whitehead doesn’t like:
- Strict moral traditionalism focused on sustaining social hierarchies.
- Comfort with authoritarian control—exercised by the “right” people—that includes the threat and use of violence.
- A desire for strict ethno-racial boundaries around who is a “true” American, where non-white and non-natural born citizens are viewed as unworthy of full participation in American civic life. (This is why many label it white Christian nationalism)
So we have a fancy new way of calling conservatives racist. Bravo. But wait, Whitehead says Christian Nationalism poses many “threats” to America – trust him, “recent social science research” is on his side. Mercifully, he concentrates on only three.
"Christian nationalism," Whitehead asserts, "does not want a government for the people by the people. It wants a government for a particular people, by a particular people. Namely, politically and religiously conservative white American Christians."
Hmm. The racism slur aside, don’t libertarians want government by and for libertarians? Don’t socialists want government by and for socialists? That’s why they form political parties and vote the way they do. They must be anti-democratic. And if, as Whitehead also says "democracy demands we share power," should the Democrats willingly hand over control of one or both houses of congress to make sure they're being democratic?
“Christian nationalism is about power. Power in the “right” hands to ensure the U.S. fulfills its covenant with God.” Sort of how power needs to be in the “right” hands to ensure racial equity, environmental sustainability and the right to identify as a halibut?
The real giveaway that Christian Nationalists are a threat: they don’t agree with left-wing Democrats on a whole raft of questions:
This is why in one recent study we find that Americans who embrace Christian nationalism are more likely to:
- Deny voter suppression is a problem
- Believe it is “too easy to vote” in the U.S.
- Believe voter fraud is rampant
- Support having to pass a civics test in order to vote
- Support laws that would disenfranchise anyone who committed certain crimes
Christian nationalism approves of political violence.
You saw all those Christian Nationalists out burning down bodegas and luting Targets in the summer of 2020 – and all those awful Republicans who were excusing them.
Christian Nationalism Perpetuates Racism.
This really doesn’t deserve explanation; if you’re not persuaded by the garbage history and self-serving conclusions of the 1619 project, you’re a Christian Nationalist.
Whitehead has found a new way to say that conservative thought is beyond the pale for polite company. It’s like asserting that they’re “semi-fascist” or a “Basket of deplorables,” but he puts a sheen of social science on it and makes it sound ominous.
As Count Floyd would say: “Ooh, Scary!”