Kelly Brown Douglas and Bryan N. Massingale of Religion News Service write about their concern over the growth of white, Christian nationalism in politics, especially with the upcoming presidential election in 2024.
The mix of religion and American nationalism is extremely controversial, tying into political issues, including LGBTQ+ rights, religion in public schools, and overt displays of the Christian faith on government property. Christian nationalism has also been tied to white nationalism, something both authors see as standing in direct contrast to the Christian narrative.
Douglas and Massingale continue:
Already, some politicians are advocating for display of Christian symbols on government property, restoring prayer in public schools and calling on voters to Make America Great Again. In doing so, they frame their advocacy with biblical references and implicitly or explicitly assert a connection between being a patriotic American and being a good Christian.
The most common use of biblical and religious language is to justify anti-LGBTQ+ bills and legislation restricting gender-conforming treatment for trans youth. These arguments also bespeak an appeal to white Christian nationalism over egalitarian democratic principles.
In the United States, Christian nationalism has taken on a particularly pernicious corollary. Whiteness, a social construct of systemic, structural, cultural and ideological power and preference, awards further privilege to those who are raced white. Christian nationalism manifests in this country as white Christian nationalism, which holds that America was intended by God to be a privileged place for those of Anglo-Saxon/European descent.
From this nation’s founding, Christianity has been a canopy for power, legitimizing the exceptionalism of the Puritan idea of a “city on the hill,” theological justifications for slavery, down to the sacred cover it has provided for white supremacism and xenophobic sentiments up to the present day.
White Christian nationalism, meanwhile, stands in direct opposition to this defining act. White Christian nationalism as it is at work today provides a Christian narrative for stigmatizing the most vulnerable — the poor, immigrants and trans youth. It is at work anytime sacred symbols are used to exclude and dehumanize people because of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual expression or religion.