Christian Nationalism is a movement that has ebbed and flowed over the course of American Christianity, but it’s experiencing a big surge right now. Former President Donald Trump proved a rallying point for right-wing extremists who seek to blur the lines between Christian teaching and American patriotism, and that troubling union is having a real moment right now. A 2017 Pew study found that around 30 percent of Americans think being a Christian is a “key part” of being an American. You saw evidence of this in the halls of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when would-be insurrectionists adorned with Christian trinkets and American flags alike stormed the building in a confrontation that left five dead and at least 140 injured.
Now, pastors who are concerned about Christian Nationalism in the country and in their own pews have a resource to take it head on. The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty has teamed up with Vote Common Good to produce a three-session adult study that can equip churches to teach their members more about what Christian Nationalism is and how to combat it.
The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty was founded by the Southern Baptist Convention almost a century ago, but it operates outside the official SBC wheelhouse, advocating for religious freedom and the separation of church and state in the public sphere. Executive Director Amanda Tyler has spent the last few years sounding the alarm about Christian Nationalism as a serious threat to religious freedom, since it prioritizes a narrow definition of Christianity over other faiths, setting up a religious hierarchy in the U.S.
“There is a need and opportunity for Christians who are concerned about the merging of American and Christian identities to have a place to take a public stand and to express their concerns about rising Christian nationalism,” Tyler told RELEVANT in 2019.
Doug Pagitt founded Vote Common Good as a way to mobilize Christian voters beyond the Religious Right, challenging American Christians to think about the ways their faith should motivate them to vote, organize and act beyond the two-party system.
Together, Vote Common Good and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty hope this new resource can educate churches about Christian Nationalism, the ways Christian Nationalism can sneak into doctrine without our being aware of it, and compel the American Church to cast off the partisan mold that’s been crafted for it by bad faith political operators.
You can take a look at their work here.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.