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Rob Reiner Breaks Down Christian Nationalism on NPR

Rob Reiner Breaks Down Christian Nationalism on NPR

This week, filmmaker/actor/director Rob Reiner spoke with Here and Now’s Robin Young about his new documentary, God and Country, which follows the rise of Christian nationalism. The film releases today.

Reiner came on as a producer after director Dan Partland completed the film, offering assistance to distribute it to a wider audience. Reiner explained that he wanted to be part of the documentary because of his personal interest in the subject matter.

“First of all, Jesus was a Jewish person. And when I went through the roughest time of my life, the dark time of the soul, what I came away with was the core idea of what Jesus taught — which is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That stuck with me. And when I look at the Christian nationalist movement, it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with that,” Reiner told Young.

In the film, Partland interviews conservative Christian leaders like Christianity Today editor-in-chief Russell Moore and VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer about what Christian nationalism is (and what it isn’t) and how it’s been able to rise over the last several decades. Reiner summarizes the history of Christian nationalism by clarifying it began with race:

“The problem [Christian nationalists] had was initially they tried to do it using race. They’d say, ‘You shouldn’t have black people and white people going to the same school.’ Well, that’s kind of ugly. It’s hard to create a movement based on racism. So they had a big problem there. And it wasn’t until Roe v. Wade came along that they said, ‘Ah, we can latch onto this and make this a fundraising opportunity.’ But when you look at the Christian nationalist movement, it’s virtually all white people, and so the racist element cannot be overlooked.”

Reiner also says that Christian nationalist leaders have continued to grow the movement today by “co-opting Jesus.”

“You can justify anything if you say you’re doing it in the name of Jesus and the name of God. But as Russell Moore points out [in the film], that’s not what Jesus taught. He didn’t talk about using violence to get what you want. I mean, it’s all about persuading through teaching and through the Gospel, not through violence. It’s unfortunate, but this movement has co-opted Jesus and used it as a weapon, physically using it as a weapon,” Reiner said.

Reiner hopes the documentary shows that Christian nationalism is damaging our society in more ways than one. He just hopes they listen to what Christian leaders have to say.

“Not only is this movement is a danger to democracy, but it’s a danger to Christianity itself. We try to lay that out and show what ultimately could happen.

“I mean, that’s why we have the people in the film that we do,” he continued. “It’s not me saying these things. These are respected Christian leaders saying these things. They’re not going to listen to me. They think I’m a ‘Hollywood libtard’ or something. But that’s why we have people who they can respect saying those things. This is something they believe.”

You can also listen to the full conversation with Reiner on NPR here.

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