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No, Christian Nationalism Isn’t Just Loving God and Country.

No, Christian Nationalism Isn’t Just Loving God and Country.

Last week at the Turning Point USA conference, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called on the audience of mostly young conservatives to embrace Christian Nationalism. “I’m a Christian. How many Christians do we have here?” she asked the crowd. “See, I also call myself a Christian Nationalist and that’s not a bad word. That’s actually a good thing, right?”

To underscore the point, she started selling Christian Nationalist T-shirts on her website. “The Godless left is relentlessly attacking me for my Christian faith. I am a proud Christian and a proud American,” she wrote on Truth Social. “That’s why I am a proud Christian Nationalist.”

Many Christians, including some here at RELEVANT, have written extensively about the growing threat of Christian Nationalism and why Christians in America should oppose it. But Greene is echoing a theme sweeping certain corners of far right conservatism, where the idea seems to be that if you can’t beat the Christian Nationalist rap, you might as well embrace it.

There are a few things going on here but let’s make one thing clear. Christian Nationalism is bad. There was a time, fairly recently, where this would not have been a controversial thing to say. And just because it is growing controversial now or sees to be in some way politicized is only proof that we need to reaffirm it. Nobody, least of all Christians, should support Christian Nationalism. And if Christian Nationalism is having a little moment on the extremist fringes, then Christians should lead the way in stamping it out and erecting guardrails to make sure the Church understands such ideology is beyond the pale.

One of the ways Christian Nationalism is making in-roads is through redefinition. Some people say Christian Nationalism is just American patriots espousing conservative viewpoints, and what’s so bad about that? Well, if that was all Christian Nationalism was then of course it wouldn’t be a cause for alarm.

But that has never been the definition of Christian Nationalism. Christian Nationalism isn’t just a Christian being proud of their country or holding conservative views. It’s when biblical teaching is mixed with the principles of constitutional democracy until the line between them is blurred or even erased altogether. When this happens, being a good American is seen as part of being a good Christian and vice-versa, such anyone who isn’t American isn’t living the Christian life as fully as they could be and anyone who isn’t a Christian certainly isn’t as American as they could be.

“Christian Nationalism is not the same thing as patriotism or being patriotic,” Amanda Tyler told us in 2018. “I am a patriot. We can be patriotic and still understand that we don’t need to minimize our religious convictions or somehow make those fit into a particular political affiliation or nationalistic affiliation.”

Tyler is the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee, and she has helped mobilize a diverse group of Christians to take on Christian Nationalism. According to her, combatting Christian Nationalism isn’t just good for democracy — it’s good for the Church too. “Whenever the state gets too cozy with Christianity, Christianity is the one that gets compromised,” she says. “Our radical Christian values are not in line with the powers and principalities of this state. Jesus taught us that we are citizens of two kingdoms, an earthly kingdom ruled by our governments and God’s kingdom. We have to work out what we render to which kingdom.”

It may be true that some slightly trigger-happy critics wield “Christian Nationalism” with too broad a brush, hurling the label at any elected official who prays before dinner or evokes God in a speech. That’s unfair, but it’s also besides the point. Because Christian Nationalism is a real issue. Nearly a third of Americans say that being a Christian is a key part of being an American, according to a 2017 Pew Research survey. Just because some ill-informed people out there are tilting at windmills doesn’t mean the real threat should be ignored.

So, yes, Christians should not only reject the label of Christian Nationalism, they should actively oppose it. Because when Jesus came, it wasn’t to make the kingdom he was born into “more Christian,” but to point the way to another kingdom that isn’t of this world. Jesus himself resisted political power when it was offered to him. He had something better planned. It’s still in the works for his people, too. All we have to do is find it in ourselves to turn from the temptations to worldly power and accept the far better gift he has in store for us all.

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