On this second anniversary of the horrifying spectacle that unfolded in the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is sorry to report that Christian nationalism is alive and well, and remains a threat to American democracy and liberty.
The otherwise excellent official report by the Jan. 6 commission did not choose to examine Christian nationalism as among the causes needing full investigation and rebuttal. But FFRF, along with the Baptist Joint Committee, did investigate. The objective report the two groups published, featuring major experts, mostly academic, remains a timely reminder of how Christian nationalist principles, organizations, symbols and impetus played a major role in that attempted coup. The succinct but thorough analysis includes blow-by-blow recounts by author Andrew L. Seidel of overwhelming evidence of Christian nationalism at the Jan. 6 attack, as well as in crucial events leading up to the putsch. The report may be read here.
Since that violent attempt to subvert the will of the American public and the peaceful transfer of political office, the drumbeat for Christian nationalism has not diminished, but has grown. The most egregious example is the open espousal of the Christian nationalist label by a member of Congress. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is even selling “Christian Nationalist” T-shirts. Rep. Lauren Boebert has made similar pronouncements. Sen. Josh Hawley gave a Christian nationalist rant last fall. (And, it could be argued that many, if not most, of the 147 members of Congress who shamefully voted against certification following that riot were and are Christian nationalists.) Florida’s governor is also using Christian nationalist rhetoric, among other public officials or 2022 candidates. In fact, most Republicans support declaring the United States a Christian nation, according to a poll released last fall. These pronouncements by public officials are but the tip of the iceberg.
Many excellent articles and books (most available from FFRF’s shop) document the dangers of white Christian nationalism. One intriguing recent source is the podcast The Divided Dial, which painstakingly examines how extremist radio, often tied with Christian radio, has infiltrated the nation’s airwaves and distorted the public’s understanding. Among the networks examined is the little-known Salem Media Group, which the podcast notes in its “From Pulpit to Politics” episode, has “come to have an outsize influence.”
For more than 45 years, FFRF has been countering the dangerous myth that the United States is a Christian nation, with its ancillary message that only certain kinds of Christians are true citizens. The seeds for today’s Christian nationalist movement began long ago, and it is dismaying to see how much they have taken root today. The United States and the secular movement must stay on high alert for the continuing dangers posed by the alarming growth of this unAmerican theopolitical movement.