How pervasive is Christian nationalism in america? Earlier than answering, a extra urgent query is: What’s it? Right here the individuals paid to outline our phrases are all over. Christian nationalism can contain a nationwide church just like the Church of Scotland. It may be a type of civil faith, as in “one nation beneath God.” It will probably additionally dissolve into American exceptionalism: “a metropolis set on a hill.” Regardless of the definition, attaching nationwide or civic that means to divine goal is as previous as recorded historical past.
It’s also all over the place in America. When Franklin D. Roosevelt defined his administration’s causes for coming into World Struggle II, the president didn’t hesitate to invoke God or quote the Bible. “The world is just too small to supply enough ‘lounge’ for each Hitler and God,” he advised Individuals. “We’re impressed by a religion that goes again by means of all of the years to the primary chapter of the E-book of Genesis: ‘God created man in His personal picture.’ ”
Seventy years later when filmmaker Aaron Sorkin wrote the strains delivered by a information anchor within the first episode of HBO’s The Newsroom, the non secular part of Christian nationalism could have been invisible however the attraction to ethical goal was pronounced. After lamenting America’s decline, the information anchor defined what made America nice: “We stood up for what was proper. We fought for ethical causes. We handed legal guidelines, struck down legal guidelines for ethical causes. We waged wars on poverty, not poor individuals. We sacrificed. We cared about our neighbors.” He may properly have requested: What did Jesus do?
The bigger resonance of Christian nationalism, nevertheless, counts for little in modern assessments of the topic. What stands out now, as we study from Philip S. Gorski and Samuel L. Perry’s The Flag and the Cross, is the Capitol Hill riot of Jan. 6, 2021. That occasion—through which supporters of former president Donald Trump tried to cease the certification of the presidential election—drives the e-book’s argument. The authors purport to supply a “primer on white Christian nationalism”: when it emerged, the way it works, what its future could also be. The ultimate chapter gives recommendation on how one can keep away from one other Jan. 6. For Messrs. Gorski and Perry, the battle strains are clear: Donald Trump and his “most zealous followers” have “rejected America’s experiment in multiracial democracy in favor of white Christian nationalism.” The lesson for readers is to find out whether or not white Christian nationalists will likely be “profitable.”
It hardly takes a level in social science to detect the authors’ motives in explaining current American examples of attributing divine goal to nationwide affairs. This isn’t to say the e-book lacks proof. The authors are sociologists who depend upon polls and statistical evaluation. Additionally they cite an array of research from fellow social scientists, although how deep their samples are is one other query. …
[A]s alarming as Jan. 6 was, the authors don’t appear to note how widespread Christian nationalism is. … For individuals who need to understand how social scientists can therapeutic massage knowledge, The Flag and the Cross will show instructive. However for understanding the kind of Christian nationalism and American exceptionalism which have impressed writers from the White Home to Hollywood studios, inquirers should go elsewhere.