Its Rise (and Eventual Demise)
One of the basic principles of science everyone learns in high school is “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Over the last couple of decades there has been a strong societal shift away from organized religion. The institutional church has seen its membership shrink at a quick pace. Sundays are no longer the day of rest that they were in the Leave It to Beaver days.
The reactive movement is now in full swing. While the numbers may not be increasing, the power and political posturing of the conservative evangelical church is on the rise. With the appointments of three Supreme Court justices by the previous president, the religious right has attained a new position of power to change our way of life. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government are supposed to be equal, but we have recently seen how the judicial branch can turn our nation in a different direction in the blink of an eye.
The reversal of Roe v. Wade has shaken the foundation of the liberal agenda and has put other key aspects of our daily life in jeopardy. Justice Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud when he identified contraception, private sexual practice, and same-sex marriage as other Supreme Court precedents that can and should be similarly reversed.
Most disturbing, however, is the chatter about Christian nationalism. Marjorie Taylor Greene, certainly not one who is a voice for all the right (perhaps alt-right, though), recently said, “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists.” MTG’s comments follow closely on the heels of another ultra-conservative Republican, Lauren Boebert. She stated, “The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church.... I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.”
While it is tempting to discount the breadth of the following that these two women have, we cannot ignore the stage upon which they speak. As duly elected US Representatives in Congress, they have access to tremendous audiences influenced by their words. Even more troublesome are the other voices being raised with the same goal.
Andrew Torba is a young 30s social media guru who founded the platform Gab. He represents himself, and allows others on Gab to express, antisemitism. It serves no purpose in this article to quote any of his or others’ posts, but suffice it to say that the Anti-Defamation League has highlighted his views.
On October 27, 2018, Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and yelled, “All Jews must die.” He shot 11 worshipers to death, and wounded six others. Bowers had previously posted antisemitic comments on Gab. These acts and beliefs are closely held by those who proclaim Christian nationalism. Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania, has paid Gab as a social media consultant for his candidacy. This seems to be an unholy alliance.
David Corn, Washington, DC Bureau Chief for Mother Jones magazine, reflects on this topic. “For much of US history, evangelicals have contended that America is a Christian nation…. The founders did not conceive of the new country as a Christian state and were dubious about the intersection of established religion and government.”
Corn adds later, “Christian nationalists are a minority of Americans and a minority of Christians, but I fear that this extremist movement can undermine the values of tolerance and freedom of thought that are crucial for...a diverse country…. Christian nationalism...poses a threat to a pluralistic society. Perhaps it’s good that its adherents have become more open about its tyrannical goal so this anti-American movement can be directly challenged.”
That is precisely why Christian nationalism will eventually experience its demise. This minority cannot rule the diverse majority of our nation. When leaders and groups opposing this movement begin to unite their efforts, they will succeed in undermining the momentum that seems to be currently building.
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis writes in The Nation, quoting Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “We live in a moral universe.... It is an inexorable truth that freedom will prevail in the end, that injustice and repression and violence will not have the last word.” To fight Christian nationalism, she adds, “we believe it’s necessary to build a multiracial moral movement that can speak directly to the needs and aspirations of poor and dispossessed Americans and fuse their many struggles into one.”
However you worship, whoever you worship, indeed IF you worship or not, speak out when confronted by those who desire to mandate your rights, your thoughts, your beliefs. Let the reactive energy of the demise of Christian nationalism begin. ▼
David Garrett, a CAMP Rehoboth Board member, is a straight advocate for equality and inclusion. He is also the proud father of an adult trans daughter. Email David Garrett at email@example.com.