Is so-called white Christian nationalism really a threat to democracy, or is it a catch-phrase/concept meant to undervalue Christianity in general?
The Brookings Institute, a Democrat think tank based in Washington D.C., is hosting a February symposium called, “Understanding the Threat of White Christian Nationalism to American Democracy Today.”
Speakers include the quasi-conservative Peter Wehner, whose hatred of Donald Trump parallels the obsessive, anti-Trump tirades of late night “comedian” Jimmy Kimmel. Also on deck will be leftwing academic Anthea Butler from the University of Pennsylvania, author of the book, White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America. Butler also writes for The Guardian and is a commentator on MSNBC.
In 2015, Butler, who is black, received pushback from conservatives when she criticized Ben Carson (then a presidential candidate) for his views on the display of the Confederate battle flag at NASCAR races.
“Ben Carson,” Butler wrote on Twitter, “deserves the Coon of the Year award.” She was able to get away with that remark because she was criticizing a conservative black man.
In one of Butler’s video-recorded lectures, she’s speaking before an audience composed mostly of older, white, suburban liberal women. She opens her talk with commentary about her home state of Texas, suggesting that what Texas really needs is an influx of blue stream voters, the kind that made California what it is today.
She then segues into Texas’ penchant for banning books. But not “real” books mind you, classic works of literature like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that liberals like to ban, but leftist polemics about Critical Race Theory (CRT) written for toddlers and grammar school students.
Butler mentions LGBTQ books without explaining that these books, like the CRT material, are written for young children and are meant to be mainstreamed — force fed — into the school curriculum. Butler neglects to mention that the LGBTQ books are not pleas for tolerance as such but go to extremes in promoting transgender ideology for children (Dick, Jane and Spot have a right to change their pronouns, etc.)
One might say that the originator of the “there’s a white Christian nationalist threat to democracy” movement is Philip S. Gorski, co-author with Samuel L. Perry of the book, White Christianity and the Threat to American Democracy.
“What is replacing traditional religion?” Gorski asks, then answers, “Civil religion—or the proper relationship between religion and politics.”
What does he mean, exactly?
In an interview with Yale News, Gorski stated:
There are very startling commonalities between Buddhist religious nationalism, Islamic nationalism, and Christian nationalism. For one thing, they tend to have an apocalyptic view of history. They tend to think about history as a cosmic showdown between good and evil — in which, of course, they are on the side of good and everyone else is on the side of evil.
Gorski is intentionally ambiguous and careful to tow a moderate line in calling for an equal balance between politics and religion. But what he really wants is the creation of a wall between the two so that, going forward, religion will “know its place” whenever “politics” creates a powerful controversial moral issue that may rock the boat in some religious quarters.
In its press release for the February symposium, the Brookings Institute promises to reveal the results of a survey of more than 6,000 Americans regarding “the underpinnings of white Christian nationalism.”
The survey, the Institute states, will examine “how Christian nationalist views intersect with white identity, anti-Black sentiment, patriarchy, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiments, anti-immigrant attitudes, authoritarianism, and support for violence.”
If this all sounds like typical leftwing psychobabble, that’s because it is.
The word “patriarchy” is a red flag here, indicating disapproval of traditional Judeo-Christian values (like rules against the ordination of women in Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy). “Anti-Muslim sentiments,” another red flag, is a relative construct, since the Left considers any criticism of Islam as Islamophobic. The same can be said about CRT: if you’re against it, you’re anti-black and racist. Let’s not forget that the “anti-immigrant” label has been perverted to mean any commonsense criticism of illegal immigration and/or open borders.
Recently Yale News elaborated on the white nationalist Christian threat to democracy when it stated:
The protestors [referring to January 6] erected a large wooden cross and gallows. Some waved Rebel battle flags; others the Stars and Stripes. Some carried signs declaring that ‘Jesus Saves’ while others wore sweatshirts bearing white supremacist slogans. The men who invaded the Senate chamber — some clad in body armor, one wearing a horned headdress — invoked Christ’s name as they bowed heads and prayed.
But who hasn’t seen the Christian Left, a far more egregious problem than the Christian Right, thwart and invert the teachings of Jesus to suit the Left’s political agenda?
Lucas Miles, author of the book, The Christian Left: How Liberal Thought Has Hijacked the Church, writes how Critical Race Theory and liberation theology are being pushed in many Christian denominations. “The Gospel is not something that’s legalistic, and it’s important that we not fall into fundamentalism, either. But if we begin to downgrade Scripture to something other than the Word of God, Christianity begins to erode,” he writes.
“The Christian Left,” Miles writes, is “really good at hijacking terminology in order to ooze their way into being recognized” as Christian. One way they do this is by increasingly pushing for a “Christian Universalism” that says all paths lead to Christ:
I live in a red state and blue county, and there are probably four or five churches right around me that are flying a Marxist Black Lives Matter flag or Christian socialism symbol or a rainbow flag, and they’re flying those higher than the cross. I think it says a lot about where the churches in America are right now.
“Flying those higher than the cross” pretty much says it all when it comes to the Christian Left’s priorities.
In my own Russian Orthodox parish in Philadelphia, there are liberal elements at work to “Christian universalize” the Church, especially when it comes to feminist causes like the ordination of women. Although there’s absolutely no hope of forming a viable women’s ordination movement within Orthodoxy, there has been a small push by one or two of the women there towards setting a stage for the eventual establishment of a female deaconate sometime in the future.
Realizing that even this is nearly close to impossible, these feminist stalwarts push for a fuller participation by women in the Divine Liturgy, but not in a general way that would lend grace and substance to the service but in very specific goals like forcing the pastor to accept women readers of the Sunday epistle, traditionally a role only for tonsured Orthodox males, technically the first level of clergy in the Orthodox Church.
The Boston Globe attempted to flesh out the evils of white Christian nationalism in a November 2022 story on Arkansas’ state gubernatorial candidates, Chris Jones (Democrat) and Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Republican). (Sanders went on to become the first woman governor of that state).
“Sanders represents White Christian nationalism,” the newspaper stated in a matter-of-fact way, as if it listing the ingredients of a recipe for winter oatmeal. “Not only are Sanders and Jones in opposing parties, their professed faiths work themselves out very differently in the political realm.”
The story continues: “Sanders is White. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from a small Christian college called Ouachita Baptist College, and has long been active as an adviser and campaign manager for Republican candidates.”
The article goes on to say that Sanders grew up going to Southern Baptist Convention churches, and explains that as the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, that organization can trace its origins to pro-slavery sentiments responsible for a split from Northern Baptists prior to the Civil War. The article also added a caveat: “The denomination previously made the news recently for devastating reports of widespread sexual abuse in its churches.”
The Globe then sinks into a partisan cesspool when it proclaims, “While one of the Ten Commandments says, ‘thou shalt not bear false witness,’ Sanders earned a reputation as press secretary for evasion and outright lying.”
The article devolves from there into glorifying leftwing Christianity as a champion of social justice causes like Black Lives Matter, while condemning “white right-wing Christianity” as leading “to violence to meet political ends.”
The Globe piece alone is an indication that leftist Christianity’s aim is nothing less than a “cosmic showdown between good and evil,” the good being the woke cavalcade of secular values, the bad being anything that harks back to (patriarchal) Judeo-Christian roots.