What is Christian Nationalism?

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A statue of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Photo Credit: Tim Tonjes)

A new movement from the political right is emerging. This movement detracts from the typical neoconservative ideology which primarily emphasizes free market capitalism and patriotism. The leaders also do not idolize or romanticize the American founders, which is a stark contrast from how conservatives view the Founding Fathers. Rather, these followers focus on a higher power above man and utilize this as the foundation for their political beliefs. This movement is known as Christian nationalism.  

   An immense amount of misinformation is spreading about this movement. This article’s goal is to give a fair, unbiased, and extensive description of this political entity, so one can form their own opinion on them. This article is neither endorsing nor denouncing Christian nationalism; rather, it is telling people what the ideology is from those who claim to promote it. Utilizing this technique, hopefully people can learn a significant amount more than they would from a third party’s analysis. 

What is Christian nationalism? Who are its proponents? What does it entail, and why has it been garnering so much media attention? While by no means the founder or the first to posit this belief, Andrew Torba, the CEO of the increasingly popular free speech social media site Gab, is one of the most vocal advocates for Christian nationalism. According to the description of his newly published book, Christian Nationalism: A Biblical Guide for Taking Dominion and Discipling Nations, “Christian nationalism is a spiritual, political, and cultural movement comprised of Christians who are working to build a parallel Christian society grounded in a Biblical worldview.”  

Andrew Torba, co-founder and CEO of Gab (Photo Credit: Right Wing Watch/Info Wars)

History

To first understand what this means and the implications, a brief history lesson is necessary. The existence of Christianity within politics is nothing new and has been around since the biblical era itself. Within the confines of America, its foundation of Christian principles and morality is historically detailed. 

   Founding Father and second President John Adams stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 

   Governor of Virginia and ratifier of the Constitution Patrick Henry said, “Righteousness alone can exalt [America] as a nation…The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion…. The religion of Christ…will make them rich indeed.” 

   Illustrious Founding Father and ratifier of the Constitution Benjamin Rush heralded the Constitution as “Divine Providence” akin to the miracles found in the Bible. A much more extensive list, with sources, can be found here.  

   Evidently, America was founded upon Christian principles, yet that does not mean everyone must become Christian. It is important to note that while 80% of the colonial American population was Christian, there exists a great deal of different denominations. In order to avoid the religious oppression and persecution of these sects and faiths, the founders upheld religious liberty as one of utmost importance. These protections were consequently extended to non-Christians and atheists. 

   This was held in such great importance that the writers of the Constitution enshrined religious freedom within the very first amendment. This amendment states the government cannot impose a mandatory religion upon the people, but nowhere does it say the church cannot influence the government or politicians. Rather, the phrase “separation of church and state” was first introduced by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a Baptist pastor and meant the state would not corrupt the church. It is completely acceptable for one’s religious beliefs to influence their political leanings and stances and to legislate accordingly. There is a clear distinction between one developing their beliefs from their faith and mandating their faith.  

“Our Consitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

President John Adams
(Photo Credit: Wayne S. Grazio)

Separation of Church and State?

What does this have to do with Christian nationalism? This movement emphasizes that last point. The first amendment does not prohibit them from shaping the country according to their faith, but it instead allows them to do so. The extent to which one can do this remains a point of contention. For example, the Supreme Court case Engle v. Vitale outlawed mandatory school prayer. This group, however, disagrees with the ruling and utilizes this interpretation to prove their point.  

   Famous right-wing journalist Jack Posobiec tweeted, “The Establishment Clause meant the founders did not want a Church of America. It was not intended to ban prayer in schools.” 

   Self-proclaimed Christian nationalist Vince Dao stated on his Telegram account that the removal of school prayer is “Christ-phobic”. 

   These are not a few isolated cases, either. Christian nationalist Lauren Witzke, a right-wing candidate who ran for US Senate in Delaware, stated, “Christians should have doubled down on prayer in school and NEVER given the Atheists a damn thing…” 

   While this is neither the sole issue nor the crux of the problem for Christian nationalists, this example helps to display the belief system that the underlying problems in society can only be solved via a Christian revival. They blame the decline of Christianity for society’s issues. If America was built upon Christian principles and morality, then the loss and/or abandonment of these will result into the destruction of the nation.  

Popularity

Christian nationalism is by no means a fringe movement, either. Pew Research Center showed 45% of Americans believe America should be an explicitly Christian nation, albeit with different ideas on how to go about that. While it would be unfair to claim 45% of America is Christian nationalist due to one statistic, it does demonstrate the belief that Christianity should dictate American values and morals is becoming more prominent. This is one of the fundamental beliefs of Christian nationalism. 

The movement has gained a great degree of popularity and traction outside the United States, too. Italy elected its first female Prime Minister recently, Giorgia Meloni. Meloni is a self-proclaimed Christian nationalist and emphasizes the role Christianity should play in her country, which has a long and storied history with Catholicism. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro consecrated his country to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is a notorious defender of Christianity and has made several comments about anti-Christian agendas in Europe. These movements are sprouting all over Western countries, winning elections, and maintaining political power. 

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (Photo Credit: Tiziana Fabi/Getty Images)

Politics

   Politically, Christian nationalists align with a right-wing ideology known as paleoconservatism. This ideology promotes traditional conservative values, limited immigration, economic protectionism, and Christian values, among a multitude of others.  

   Thus, great emphasis is placed on the religion and behavior of the politicians they endorse. For example, Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is unabashedly Christian, and while he may not claim to be a Christian nationalist, much of his proposed policies and actions align with the ideology. These include, but are not limited to, abortion, vaccines, immigration, and educational reform. Therefore, many in the movement endorsed him. 

   Torba said, via Telegram, “Please pray for Doug Mastriano’s sweeping victory for my great state of Pennsylvania… We need to send a decisive message to the Regime that the mandate for Christian Nationalism has arrived.” Posobiec frequently posts about him on his various social media accounts, while also speaking at his rallies. Prominent Christian nationalist Ali Alexander also endorsed Mastriano.    

Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano (Photo Credit: Julio Cortez/AP Photos)

  Some politicians even openly embrace the title, such as Georgian Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene: “I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly. We should be Christian nationalists.” Arizona representative Paul Gosar has made very similar claims and endorsed Christian nationalism. 

Controversies

Since it promotes such a drastic alternative to the increasing secularization of society, the culture and the institutions within it will naturally react accordingly. It directly opposes new pushes for the tolerance of the LGBT movement, atheism, abortion, and the notion that governmental institutions should not use religion as an influence for their decision-making. Numerous news outlets denounce this movement, such as MSNBC, PBS, the Dallas Morning News, AOL, among a number of others. Many of these sources claim that Christian nationalism is racist, antisemitic, homophobic, transphobic, and other terms of the like. Is it though? 

   Regarding racism, Christianity certainly supports the ideal that all men are made in the image and likeness of God. Christian nationalists seem to accept people of all races and ethnicities, such as Jon Miller, who is black, Michelle Malkin, who is Asian, Ali Alexander, who is Arab, and Vincent James, who is white. 

   Gab re-posted on their Telegram account an article from VDARE, where they even emphasize “Christian nationalism is not ‘nativist’ or ‘white supremacist’. These ancient biblical prophecies apply to all nations and races- red and yellow, black and white. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not an affront to the natural order. And it does not seek to overthrow it.” 

   This movement typically focuses on racism particularly affecting white people but does not exclude those of different skin colors. 

   As for antisemitism, this movement has a very strong stance on Jews. Christian nationalists believe the Jewish people are misled and need to accept Christ as their savior as opposed to rejecting him. They no longer believe Jews are God’s chosen people, as the New Testament had Christians replace that role. They also state Jewish people have a disproportionate amount of power in America. 

“Christian Nationalism is not nativist or white supremacist. These ancient prophecies apply to all nations and races…”

Co-Founder and CEO of Gab Andrew Torba

   Arguably the most banned political commentator, head of the America First political movement, and one of the most famous Christian nationalists is Nicholas J. Fuentes. He stated, “…religious Jews distinguish themselves from Christians in their rejection of Jesus Christ. And the Zionists have subverted America to their own end for over a century…” Organizations like the ADL and SPLC have denounced Fuentes as an antisemite for his long history of comments like this. Defenders of Christian nationalism claim it is not antisemitic to try to convert Jews and state they have power. 

Nicholas J. Fuentes at a “Stop the Steal” rally protesting the 2020 election (Photo Credit: Nathan Posner/Shutterstock)

  On the issue of homophobia, Christian nationalists will obviously assume the view that homosexuality is a sin, and therefore do not tolerate it. There is an extremely powerful stigma against the act and behavior, though it is important to note that they do not hate homosexual people. This is evidenced by Milo Yiannopolous’s conversion to Catholicism. As a former homosexual, the community accepted him with open arms. Regardless, they do not tolerate homosexuality in the slightest. The same set of rules applies for the allegation of transphobia.  

Policies

   What policies would a Christian nationalist promote? They cannot be lumped into one party or the other, as they attack the GOP just as much as they do the Democrats. Economically, they fall under the right, yet do not believe in crony capitalism. Their reforms mostly fall under the social and cultural realms, though. 

   Likely the most important issue for them is abortion, as they are ardently pro-life. Another significant change this movement pushes for is an anti-sexual revolution. They promote modesty and oppose any form of sexually explicit content or messaging, be it porn, clothing, or whatever else may occur in society. They also believe in a very traditional view of gender roles. Many, especially the Catholics in the movement, do not believe in access to contraception or that pre-marital sex should be celebrated in society.

Going along with the sexual components, Christian nationalists believe in marriage exclusively between a man and a woman. They also do not believe in establishing a theocracy, but they do emphasize Christianity as the primary source of morality for society as opposed to the cultural and moral relativism of today. Of course, they believe the people within the country should be Christian, along with its politicians; but they do not believe in forcing people to convert. 

   A stark difference between Christian nationalists and others on the right is belief in democracy. While not true for all, Christian nationalists are much more likely to disapprove of and disagree with the concept of democracy as an effective government. According to Vincent James, “The whole idea of democracy is fake. The game is rigged against us. And whatever [liberals] are describing as democracy, we do want to destroy. And it’s crumbling down right now beneath our very eyes.” 

Abortion protests at Oklahoma State Capitol (Photo Credit: Free the States on Facebook)

“Democracy is a myth. How long did Athenian democracy last? 100 years?” said Jon Miller on Telegram. 

   Ali Alexander said, “Oligarchs use the ‘democracy’ label to abuse our God given rights. Don’t believe them!” 

   Nick Fuentes stated, “Most people should not be allowed to vote, if anybody at all. There is no wisdom in crowds, and especially not now… Nah sorry, mass democracy is a joke.” 

   As is common for many in the movement, most use online pseudonyms to conceal their identities. One of these is an individual, who has amassed a following of well over a thousand people, that goes by the name of Pinesap, who reposted, “The crowd first hailed Jesus when He entered Jerusalem, and then the same crowd nailed Him to the cross and shouted ‘Let him be crucified!’ Democracy is a scam.” 

   Gab’s Telegram account posted succinctly, “I want no part of anything that hopes to preserve ‘liberal democracy’.” 

   Vince Dao stated, “Democracy, equality, and diversity are literally just fake concepts that the left employs to usurp power from the traditional rulers of western society. Hence why they don’t actually believe in these principles when it doesn’t favor them.” 

“The whole idea of democracy is fake… and whatever [liberals] are describing as democracy, we do want to destroy. And it’s crumbling down right now beneath our very eyes.”

Christian Nationalist Vincent James

This view of democracy is not inherently wrong in and of itself. There are notable faults within democracy that philosophers like Aristotle famously wrote about. This does not validate nor invalidate their views, but it does add fair context. Though, this belief certainly clashes with the views of modern-day society, as the defense of democracy is a standard which President Biden has restated multiple times over.

Conclusion

   With reports of Christian nationalism rising, especially with Trump supporters, it becomes ever more important to understand what this movement is, and what it wishes to promote and advance. Rather than listening to different media outlets and their opinions on what they espouse, canvassing what multiple Christian nationalists believe on a variety of issues allows for easier understanding of their beliefs. This also allows one to develop an opinion of one’s own, without the influence of conservative or liberal sources.  

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