Jonathan Davis, “Christian nationalism and the looming death of religious liberty,” Baptist News Global, Aug. 13, 2018 https://baptistnews.com/article/christian-nationalism-and-the-looming-death-of-religious-liberty/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIt8aRy6T_7gIVHimzAB3bdAG3EAAYASAAEgJlBfD_BwE#.YDSUaRNKjm1

According to the Christian Nationalist Alliance, Christian nationalism “upholds the belief that politics is just as capable of saving souls as other forms of Evangelical outreach.” Let that soteriological statement sink in – the saving of souls through politics. At least the CNA says plainly what many evangelicals are still reluctant to admit.

“Christian nationalism – including the tendency of many evangelicals to seek power for themselves (and their version of Christianity) – is a threat to the true liberty of all.”

Although Christian nationalists claim support for the reign of God throughout the land, it seems they are happy to use ungodly methods to achieve it. Many evangelical churches and pastors persistently face manipulation and even legal bribery by Christian nationalists. Here are several ways Christian nationalists try to increase their influence and dominion.

Jonathan Davis is cofounder of the Healthy Churches Institute and founder of the Small-Town Churches Network, helping rural churches thrive in the midst of 21st century change … regular contributor to Baptist News Global.

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Rachel S. Mikva, “Christian nationalism is a threat, and not just from Capitol attackers invoking Jesus,” USA Today, Jan. 31, 2021 https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/01/31/christian-nationalism-josh-hawley-ted-cruz-capitol-attack-column/4292193001/

It is easy to protest when white Christian nationalism turns violent. Within the chorus of critics, however, are a substantial number of Christians who plan to take the country for Jesus another way. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, a leader of the misinformation campaign that led people to believe (falsely) that the presidential election was stolen, is among them.

Speaking in his official capacity as attorney general of Missouri in 2017, he proclaimed at a “Pastors and Pews” meetingthat their charge is to “take the lordship of Christ, that message, into the public realm and to seek the obedience of the nations — of our nation… to influence our society, and even more than that, to transform our society to reflect the gospel truth and lordship of Jesus Christ.”

Hawley is aware that not everyone will become Christian, but believes we should all live by his interpretation of Christian values. The lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, asserts that elected officials should look to Scripture when making policy, “because every problem we have in America has a solution in the Bible.”  

In “Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States,” Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry define Christian nationalism as “a collection of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems — that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life…. It includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism. It is as ethnic and political as it is religious.”  

The agenda is not always explicit. When Sen. Ted Cruz talks of “restoring” America, he means to recover what he believes is its original identity as a Christian nation. Historian John Fea argues that Cruz’s outlook reflects the Seven Mountains Dominionism of his father — a conviction that Christians are called by God to exercise dominion over every aspect of society by taking control of political and cultural institutions (religion, family, education, government, media, arts and entertainment, and business). While Cruz is too politically savvy to endorse dominion theology outright, he uses code words like “religious liberty” to sustain Christian privilege and cultural authority. 

It is a long-term strategy articulated decades ago by a leader in the Christian Reconstructionist movement, Gary North. He argued that Christians must use the doctrine of religious liberty to advance their agenda, hoping to raise up children “who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”The Christian right has embraced this approach in multiple court cases and bills, distorting the very meaning of religious freedom

Capitol riot:Trump’s exit won’t end the far-right violent terrorism threats he fueled

I do not wish to emulate QAnon enthusiasts in projecting a deep-state conspiracy, but there are Christian nationalists embedded throughout our governing institutions — courts, military, legislatures, agencies, police.Many are regular figures at the Capitol and in the halls of power. Distracted by those ready to bring on the apocalypse, we have not adequately exposed this more resilient threat to religious pluralism in the United States. 

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Rachel S. Mikva is the Herman Schaalman Professor in Jewish Studies and Senior Faculty Fellow of the InterReligious Institute at Chicago Theological Seminary. Her most recent book is “Dangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” 

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