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Christians against Christian nationalism say the ideology distorts both American and Christian values


Christians against Christian nationalism say the ideology distorts both American and Christian values

Christian nationalism has been embraced by some of former President Donald Trump’s supporters.Michael Arellano/Associated Press

  • Some GOP lawmakers are embracing Christian nationalism and dismissing critics as the “godless left.”

  • Christians Against Christian Nationalism represents 27,000 Christians who have rejected the concept.

  • The organizer of the campaign told Insider Christian nationalism violates core Christian values.

Proponents of Christian nationalism have suggested those expressing concerns about the ideology are simply the “godless left,” but tens of thousands of Christians maintain the concept directly defies the teachings of their faith.

Christian groups launched a campaign in 2019 aimed at denouncing Christian nationalism — the belief that the US and Christianity are intrinsically linked and therefore the religion should have a privileged position in American society and government.

Christians Against Christian Nationalism has since had more than 27,000 Christians of different denominations and political philosophies sign their statement of principles rejecting the concept. The principles include assertions like “one’s religious affiliation, or lack thereof, should be irrelevant to one’s standing in the civic community” and “government should not prefer one religion over another or religion over nonreligion.”

“Many of our signers believe that pushing against Christian nationalism is essential not just for our democracy but also for the preservation of our faith,” Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and the lead organizer of the campaign, told Insider.

She said the effort was the result of growing concern over Christian nationalism becoming more violent, citing the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the 2019 mosque shootings in New Zealand. In both cases, the suspects espoused Christian nationalist ideas.

Despite dismissive claims made by supporters of the ideology, opponents of Christian nationalism say it violates core American and Christian values.

Violating two core Christian beliefs

There are numerous ways in which Christian nationalism defies Christianity, according to Tyler, but the most overt involves two of Jesus’s most fundamental teachings: first, to love God above everything else, and second, to love your neighbor as yourself.

“Christian nationalism creates this false idol of power and leads us to confuse political authority with religious authority,” Tyler said. “And in that way causes us to put our patriotism, our allegiance to America, above our allegiance to God.”

Christian nationalists believe the US has a special relationship with God. This overlap of patriotism, politics, and Christianity was on full display at the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. Supporters of former President Donald Trump carried flags with messages like “Jesus is my savior, Trump is my president” and “Make America Godly Again.”

Tyler said Christian nationalism “leads people to idolatry of the country over worship of God.”

“One can be a patriot as I am. We can love God and we can love country at the same time, but if our patriotism causes us to sacrifice our theological conviction then it ceases to be patriotism. It becomes nationalism,” she said.

Christian nationalists also believe that the government should declare the US a Christian nation, advocate for Christian values, and return prayer to public schools.

But these ideals “create this second-class status for our neighbors who aren’t Christian,” Tyler said — and sends the message that in order to be a true American you have to be a Christian.

“That causes harm to our neighbors who are not Christians, and also causes us to violate our call to love our neighbor,” she said.

She added Christianity is also a global religion, so the Christian nationalist belief that God has a special plan for the US dismisses members of the faith around the world.

‘Troubling’ embrace of Christian nationalism

As for American values, the separation of church and state has long been considered a defining characteristic of religious freedom in the US. But recently some on the right, such as Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, have suggested that separation has been taken too far. Boebert went as far as to say “the church should be controlling the government.”

Meanwhile, GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has openly identified as a Christian nationalist and said the Republican party should be the party of Christian nationalism.

Though the concept is not new, Tyler said she was concerned with the way it’s been increasingly embraced in recent months, noting she saw numerous instances of Christian nationalism at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month.

“It was always present but the fact that they’re openly embracing the label is different and troubling,” she said, adding: “Unfortunately I’m seeing this almost one-up game in some circles, who can be the bigger Christian nationalist.”

Tyler said the overt support for the ideology makes it especially important for Christians to speak out against it to show that people of faith also view it as dangerous.

“We’re at risk of normalizing Christian nationalism,” she said. “It’s even more incumbent on us to explain why that is un-American and a departure from Christian values as well.”

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider





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