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Christian Nationalism: Clear and Present Danger

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BY BREANNA GLOVER | BIGTENTUSA
💡What’s the issue: Christian Nationalism, a once-fringe ideology, has infiltrated the mainstream, and is shaping the far-right extremist political agenda. This movement advocates for increased religious influence in government and public life, strict censorship in education, and calls for the dominance of white Christians in cultural and political spheres.
🫴 Catch me up: Christian Nationalists believe the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation and that God has chosen the U.S. to lead the world.  They want the U.S. to be a fully Christian nation, with (white) Christians in positions of cultural and political power. This ideology is being used to justify the complete destruction of American democracy. Not surprising, the anti-democratic pro-Trump Project 2025 heavily embraces Christian nationalist language and its ideology. 
📃 But…What does the Constitution say: Freedom of religion is the first of five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. It means the government can’t require or favor any one religion, and it protects the right to live by your own religious beliefs or none at all. The phrase  “separation of church and state” is also not included in the U.S. Constitution, but the idea is embedded in our legal system: The government is run by the people and its elected representatives, not any church. Read more
👀 How did we get here: While Christian nationalism has recently gained prominence in public discourse, its influence within government has been quietly expanding for decades. Jeff Sharlet’s bestselling book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, traces the movement to the early 20th century, particularly within American evangelicalism.
Similarly, Kathryn Joyce’s examination of the “Quiverfull” movement in her book, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement sheds light on its efforts to embed conservative Christian values into society, often at the expense of civil and reproductive rights. Joyce says this group is
“Christians who want literally to take over and remake the world by outbreeding everyone else, warping the minds of school-children, justifying bigotry with transparent illogic, and systematically denying civil rights. That most of the violence is committed quietly and privately against women and girls. Through their connections and power, these groups have sought to advance their vision of a nation governed by Christian principles.”
These books were published 14 years ago, before Christian nationalism gained prominence in public discourse. They explore how pervasive & powerful these dangerous ideologies are—for American society and our government. The Christian nationalist movement has been growing for decades behind the scenes. We are just now waking up. 

🛝 Current State of play: Christian Nationalism is playing out in real time. At the 2024 CPAC—a conservative convention that endorses Christian nationalist views— speakers called for a Trump-led overthrow of democracy, and to replace it with a Christian state. In a visit to Nashville, TN to the NRBA Presidential Forum and  2024 International Christian Media Convention, Trump urged that “we have to bring back our religion, we have to bring back Christianity in this country”Trump urged that “we have to bring back our religion, we have to bring back Christianity in this country” and pledged to get rid of the Federal Department of Education. Earlier this year, the non-profit Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released studies that show that the percentage of Christian nationalist supporters in a state is directly correlated to the percent of vote for Trump in 2020. Christian nationalism is also linked to the January 6th insurrection, with some insurrectionists holding Bibles or “Jesus Saves,” and Christian nationalists speaking out in support of the violent attack.

🏹 What’s at stake: As Christian Nationalism gains traction among the MAGA Republicans and in deeply red states, it becomes crucial to understand this ideology, especially considering its implications for democratic values and religious freedom. The alignment of Christian nationalist beliefs with anti-democratic agendas, witnessed in it’s influence on the insurrection, and the staunch support of Trump, poses a clear and present danger to American democracy.
🆘 What can we do: It is imperative to resist the spread of Christian Nationalism to safeguard our nation—and democracy’s—future.
📍Educate yourself.  Start reading the work of Josh Kovensky of Talking Points. He focuses on the  right-wing attempt to impose Christian nationalism in the U.S.  through support for Trump and the MAGA movement. See links below
📍Watch the new feature-length documentary God and Country, which examines the role of Christian nationalism in American politics.
📍If you are member of a church, you can find recommended  curricula at Faithful America’s resources page here.
📍Track extremism in your area and watch for when Christian Nationalist events from groups such as Michael Flinn’s ReAwaken America and Charlie Kirk’s Turning Points USA comes to your community.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Breanna Glover recently graduated from Dartmouth college with a B.A. degree in Government, Human-Centered Design, and English. At the college, she was a member of the women’s cross country and track and field teams. Breanna is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). At Dartmouth, she was a Social Impact Fellow, where she spent two years building a flexible DEI training program for Lebanon NH’s city government and school district.  Breanna was also the founding DEI Chair for Dartmouth’s chapter of KKG. Over her gap year, Breanna worked for Senator Maggie Hassan’s (D-NH) press team.
Image Credit: US Capitol Rotunda in Washington on January 6, 2021. Ashley Gilbertson/VII/ Redux/