FFRF co-president dissects recent Christian nationalism film

Annie Laurie Gaylor headshotFFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor astutely critiqued in a national magazine the recent documentary “God & Country” (produced by Rob Reiner) exposing Christian nationalism.

“It’s refreshing to hear a nun acknowledge that the bible says nothing about abortion and to see folks like Russell Moore, editor of Christianity Today, and evangelical pastor Doug Pagett raise the alarm,” she recently wrote in The Progressive. “It is also important to hear repentant anti-abortion activist Rev. Rob Schenck explain how the movement works to control its adherents by ‘ginning up fear and anger. . . . And to hear conservative commentator Charlie Sykes warn that ‘We are on the precipice of not just having minority rule but radical minority rule.’”

Gaylor then delved into how the film could have painted an even sharper picture of the current Christian nationalist movement:

The film’s only fault is that it fails to acknowledge any role that Christianity and the bible have contributed to the ginning up of all that anger and fear. While it’s vital to differentiate between Christian beliefs and the political movement of Christian nationalism, it’s also important to note that not all is sweetness and light in the history of Christianity and biblical dictates. The bible is a behavioral grab-bag, yet Kristin Kobes du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne, insists the answer is to “go back to the Scriptures.”

Reza Aslan, author of Beyond Fundamentalism, insists, “This is not a movement about Christian values, this is a movement about Christian power.” But don’t Christian nationalists want that power in order to force their brand of “Christian values” on the rest of us?

After all, the anti-LGBTQ+ movement is fueled by Leviticus, which proclaims that homosexuals are an “abomination” and “their blood shall be upon them”? Christian nationalist warriors look to their favorite New Testament passage: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11-18). Christians have “come a long way, baby,” from the sexist biblical injunctions ordaining women’s subservience and sinfulness, but those misogynist texts are still in a book that 20 percent of U.S. Christians believe is literal and about half believe is the inspired word of God. The closest we get to any criticism of religion in the film is Professor Anthea Butler’s statement that Christianity at its heart “has always been violent.”

Gaylor concluded her piece: “What we need to work for is a return to the principles of pluralism. ‘The biggest sin, if you will, of Christian nationalism is that it sees pluralism as a weakness,’ says Aslan, ‘and not what it is: the foundation of what it means to be American.’ We should all be able to get along, regardless of disparate beliefs and views, if we leave religion out of our laws and government.”

You can read the full review here.

This column is part of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s initiative to engage with pertinent issues at the national and the state levels and spread the messages of freethought and nontheism to a broader audience.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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