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An interesting segment on CNN’s Reliable Sources show (07/31/22) delved into the new hot political topic, and that is, Christian Nationalism. So what is Christian Nationalism? Host Brian Stelter brought in Katherine Stewart, who has studied this topic for years, to shed some light on the issue. Stewart is the author of the book “The Power Worshippers–Inside The Dangerous Rise Of Religious Nationalism”.
This intro by host Brian Stelter is important for establishing the context for the ensuing debate:“Roughly 70% of Americans identify as Christian, and this segment is not about most of them. This segment is about the rise of a White Christian Nationalist movement in the U.S. It’s emerging in the news more and more, you are probably hearing the term Christian Nationalism more and more. Here is one expert’s definition:’Christian Nationalism is the belief that the American nation is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way.’ Many observers feel that would threaten our diverse, healthy democracy in the U.S. We are seeing some Republicans in the U.S. embrace the term Christian Nationalism, for example [Reps] Marjorie Taylor Greene…Lauren Boebert…”
Here’s how Katherine Stewart defined Christian Nationalism (video at ):“Christian Nationalism is basically the idea that America was founded as a so-called Christian nation, our law should be based on the Bible, and supposedly right-thinking believers need to reclaim America’s past.”
Stewart said this is dangerous because “it’s a radically anti-democratic ideology. It rejects the principles of pluralism and equality, that represent the best of the American promise. The movement, it’s not just an ideology, it’s also an organized quest for political power.. it’s a political movement. This movement has built up…a sort of a dense organizational infrastructure over decades, that includes right wing policy groups, legal advocacy groups, networking initiatives, that get the leadership on the same page…[including] Supreme Court Justices.”
Stewart went on to expound on her argument re the U.S. Supreme Court saying, all the six conservative justices on the high court are either current or former members of the Federalist Society, which she says “is an organization that plays an outsized role in shaping our courts.” Just so you know, the Federalist Society is part of the “dense organizational infrastructure” Stewart alluded to earlier.
Stewart said Trump’s presidency was key to the Christian Nationalist movement because he “threw open the doors to leaders of this movement. It’s a leadership-driven movement, it’s not defined by the attitudes of the rank and file. Those attitudes are actually shaped by the leadership of the movement. He [Trump] offered them unprecedented political access, offered them of course the justices they wanted. This is a movement that represents the minority of our country. Most American Christians reject the politics of conquest and division this movement represents.”
There’s no other way to interpret Katherine Stewart’s remarks on CNN’s Reliable Sources other than(I’ll be happy to stand corrected of course), power hungry conservatives have schemed for decades on how to use Chritianity to achieve political power, and they finally got their opening with the Trump presidency. Trump elevated the leaders of this movement, and what we’re witnessing today with Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and others, are simply efforts to make Christian Nationalism a mainstream movement in America. Remember, as Katen Stewart correctly pointed out, a majority of Christians don’t agree with this effort to essentially hijack Christianity for political gain.
The CNN segment singled out Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene(R-GA) and Lauren Boebert(R-CO) as illustrations of this budding Christian Nationalist movement, but if anyone out there is looking for the classic example to date, it is, in my humble opinion, none other than former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a former Pastor, who has now fully embraced Trumpism. Mike Huckabee not only got his daughter Sarah to work in Trump’s White House, but also made sure she secured Trump’s endorsement for her run for Arkansas Governor, a job she is largely expected to bag.
Huckabee has also recently authored “christian” books themed around the Trump presidency. If Mike Huckabee, and his daughter Sarah for that matter, are not the classic examples of the abuse-Christianity-for-political-power-movement, I don’t know who is.
An important piece of advice Karen Stewart gave to the mainstream media when covering this Christian Nationalism movement, is to never forget that it is a leadership-driven movement. In other words, don’t focus too much on what the rank and file go out there and do in furtherance of the movement(often viral videos on social media attacking gays, pro-choice activists, etc), but rather, on the leaders of the movement, who indoctrinate them into doing this stuff. Hmm, very interesting.
Bottom line folks, many Christians, including Yours Truly, regarded former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura (Texas pride–deal with it), as very good representations of a Christian family–despite whatever differences one might have had with their political beliefs. Interestingly, Trump, the leader of the “christian” nationalist movement, has never humbled himself to say anything good about the God-fearing Bushes. That, my friends, is all you need to know about this “christian” nationalist movement. It is anything, but Christian.
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