What is Christian Nationalism?
Christian Nationalism has become an increasingly prevalent force in American politics as of late, especially with the election of Donald Trump and his heavily religious cabinet. Although this trend isn’t anything new, Trump’s election seems to have sparked a new fire in Christian Nationalists, who believe that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and shouldn’t be influenced by other religions or non-religious ideologies. While some feel that this kind of religious influence on government is valuable, others see it as antithetical to the core values of the United States and dangerous in its potential to violate the separation of church and state.
Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks for the entire GOP – they need to represent their voters – certain people – most of the people that vote for them and certain people – who are certain people?
Christian nationalism is the belief that Christianity should be the guiding force in American society and politics. This movement has been gaining ground in recent years, with support coming from both the Republican Party and some Democrats. The Founding Fathers were mostly Christians, and many of their ideals were based on Biblical principles. While the separation of church and state is an important part of American democracy, some people believe that Christianity should have a more prominent role in government. Christian nationalists often support policies that reflect their values, such as restrictions on abortion and LGBTQ rights. They also tend to oppose immigration, particularly from Muslim countries. Some critics argue that Christian nationalism is a form of bigotry, as it relies on stereotyping and fear-mongering to gain support. According to a recent study, about one-third of Americans believe in Christian nationalism – that is, the belief that Christianity should have a more central role in American life and politics.
What is Nationalism?
There are many definitions of nationalism and a functioning discussion about how best to characterize it, however, there are several recurring themes. Most scholars agree that nationalism starts with the belief that humanity is divisible into mutually distinct, internally coherent cultural groups defined by shared traits like language, religion, ethnicity, or culture. From there, scholars say, nationalists believe that these groups should each have their own governments; that governments should promote and protect a nation’s cultural identity; and that sovereign national groups provide meaning and purpose for human beings. Scholars point out that nationalism can lead to xenophobia, which is the intense dislike or prejudice against foreigners. Xenophobia can take various forms including violence and genocide. One scholar argues that Christian nationalists are not racist because they believe in multiculturalism within a dominant Anglo-Protestant culture.
The Difference Between Christian Nationalism and Protestantism
Protestantism is the largest sect of Christianity, and its name comes from the protests against certain Catholic doctrines in the 16th century. At its core, Protestantism is based on individual interpretations of scripture, which can lead to different beliefs even within the same denomination. Christian nationalism, on the other hand, is a political movement that puts Christians at the center of public life and supports policies that reflect biblical values. While Protestantism is a religious belief system, Christian nationalism is more of a political ideology.
What are the Effects of Christian Nationalism?
There are a variety of ways that Christian nationalism manifests itself in government. One way is through the religious affiliation of elected officials. Another way is through policies that give preferential treatment to Christianity or Christianity-based organizations.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Separation of Church and State
One of the Founding Principles of the United States is the separation of Church and State. This means that there should be a clear delineation between religious institutions and government. Unfortunately, in recent years there has been a growing trend of Christian Nationalism in our country. This is the belief that Christianity should have a privileged place in our society and that our government should be based on Christian principles. This way of thinking is dangerous because it goes against the very principle on which our country was founded.
Although the words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the First Amendment, the establishment clause was intended to separate church from state. When the First Amendment was adopted in 1791, the establishment clause applied only to the federal government, prohibiting the federal government from any involvement in religion. By 1833, all states had disestablished religion from government, providing protections for religious liberty in state constitutions. In the 20th century, the U.S. Supreme Court applied the establishment clause to the states through the 14th Amendment. Today, the establishment clause prohibits all levels of government from either advancing or inhibiting religion.
The establishment clause separates church from state, but not religion from politics or public life. Individual citizens are free to bring their religious convictions into the public arena. But the government is prohibited from favoring one religious view over another or even favoring religion over non-religion.
Our nation’s founders disagreed about the exact meaning of “no establishment” under the First Amendment; the argument continues to this day. But there was and is widespread agreement that preventing the government from interfering with religion is an essential principle of religious liberty. All of the Framers understood that “no establishment” meant no national church and no government involvement in religion. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison believed that without separating church from state, there could be no real religious freedom.
The first use of the “wall of separation” metaphor was by Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island in 1635. He said an authentic Christian church would be possible only if there was “a wall or hedge of separation” between the “wilderness of the world” and “the garden of the church.” Any government involvement in the church, he believed, corrupts the church.
Then in 1802, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, wrote: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”
The Supreme Court has cited Jefferson’s letter in key cases, beginning with a polygamy case in the 19th century. In the 1947 case Everson v. Board of Education, the Court cited a direct link between Jefferson’s “wall of separation” concept and the First Amendment’s establishment clause.
Where Does Freedom Fit Into This?
When it comes to the relationship between religion and politics, the line between personal beliefs and public policy can often be blurred. This is especially true for Christians who may feel called to infuse their faith into every aspect of their lives—including their voting decisions.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.