I've come around on this issue. For the longest time I felt like the panicked warnings about the chilling specter of "Christian nationalism" were overwrought, intentionally exaggerated, and being used by secularists on the Left to scare moderate, independent-minded citizens into voting against Republicans.
I thought the outraged indignation of Shane Claiborne and the Red Letter Christians, of Reverend Bishop William Barber and the Poor People's Campaign, of Jim Wallis and Sojourners, was all part of a coordinated effort to elect Democrats to office and advance a progressive policy agenda.
I mean, sure, Senator Marco Rubio tended to use his Twitter account to post Scripture verses, and other high-profile Republicans talk openly about their faith and the importance it played in their lives. But even if that were insincere, it would best be described as using a profession or appearance of faith to get elected, not actually seeking to impose law based on some narrow, strictly interpreted religious ethic, right?
Well, don't I feel sheepish.
As it turns out, there is a strand of Christian nationalism that is exerting itself with increasing intensity these days. But as it turns out, it's coming from these very progressives. Here is Claiborne himself, opining recently on immigration policy. Read this tweet (posted as an image since Claiborne blocked me months ago for publicly challenging his abuse of Scripture for political objectives):
Ignore if you can the substance of what is said, granting that it reeks of an intellectual juvenility that is utterly unhelpful when crafting public policy. Instead, focus on the sole impetus Claiborne cites to justify his policy preference. He is unquestionably positing that his view of Christian ethics, in this case on the subject of illegal immigration, should be imposed by law.
When social conservatives argue that marriage law should be confined to the man/women relationship since that's how God designed it, Claiborne and company blast it as the machinations of a Christian Taliban attempting to impose their religious ethic on a pluralist society. It's that great boogeyman, Christian nationalism at play. How is Claiborne's appeal any different?
Not to be outdone, here's the "Reverend" Jim Wallis advocating for the Democrats' massive spending bill on the basis that Jesus would obviously be for it:
Again, try to ignore the fact that Wallis's grating appeal to "the children" recalls Nancy Pelosi's instruction to "be ready to throw a punch for the children."
Get beyond that and notice that Wallis's greedy desire to spend our great-great-grandchildren's money for notoriously mismanaged and ineffective government programs is all being justified on the basis of Jesus' teachings. Is that not an obvious form of what he and his merry men have been classifying as Christian nationalism?
Or this from New York Governor Kathy Hochul:
If it's possible, imagine that the 2020 election would have gone differently and Donald Trump was still the president. Then imagine that it was his administration that was consequently behind the massive effort to get the country vaccinated.
Then imagine that it was Trump or perhaps Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that spoke those very words, declaring that God gave us the vaccine and was calling all of us to be His apostles, spreading the mRNA far and wide.
You don't have to guess what the reaction would be: outrage. And you don't have to wonder what the charge would be: Christian nationalism.
It's almost as though these voices aren't really concerned about Christian nationalism, unless it's hurting their agenda. And it's almost as though they aren't really concerned about the doctrines of Jesus, unless He can be used to help them serve and worship their real god, the federal government.
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