White Christian Nationalism
What It Is and How We Can Respond
Take time to educate yourself, your family, and your faith community about the ideologies that the perpetrator of the May 2022 shooting in Buffalo espoused. While some may dismiss “Replacement Theory” as extreme, its deep and pervasive roots lie in the common practice of “othering” that is baked into ways we talk with and about people. Though at times it can be subtle, it was also blatantly woven right into the foundations of this nation, when founders were clear they feared whites not being in power.
Professor Anthea Butler, Chair of the University of Pennsylvania Religious Studies Department recently said, “Those who agree with some or all of the White Christian Nationalist tenets might be sitting next to you in the pew. These are people we work with. They are people we see every day. They’re people that you might not even know have these beliefs but who listen to media outlets that promote WCN and are ingesting this.” The pernicious subtlety of racism means they could also be us.
So, learn (the following resources may be helpful). …Then, act.
“Our Moral Pandemic: Christian Nationalism and Political Idolatry” by Drew Strait, May 9, 2022, sojo.net
Harvard Divinity School’s February 2022 Greeley Lecture for Peace and Justice, featuring Professor Anthea Butler, Chair, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania: “Peril to Democracy – Racism and Nationalism in America.”
Call your senators (202-224-3121) and urge them to pass the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (the bill has already passed in the House).
Help to ensure there are welcoming and safe spaces for people of color in your midst who are dealing with grief, trauma and righteous anger. Their voices should be front and center, but non-BIPOC people should avoid placing a burden on them, instead, simply welcoming any opportunity that they offer to be a moment to hear from them. Remember, BIPOC people are not all the same and will have different reactions, experiences and feelings about events like the Buffalo shooting.
Predominantly white faith communities should strengthen their capacity for listening without being defensive, for being open and asking clarifying questions. Don’t pretend elements of White Christian Nationalism aren’t in your midst. Calling out moments of bias, rhetoric, or misinformation that aligns with the ideology that fuels hate criminals like the Buffalo shooter will help to defuse thinking that too easily escalates into feelings that people who are “not like us” (e.g., minorities, Black people, immigrants, Black Lives Matter activists) are “out to get us.” This is hard. And it is necessary.
Consult with your own denomination for guidance and resources.
Share these handbooks created by the Western States Center and Southern Poverty Law Center to help parents and caregivers disrupt the flow of bigoted ideas and conspiracy theories.
Double check your voter registration status and familiarize yourself with the positions of elected officials and candidates in your town, state, and congressional delegation.
Join the Maine Council of Churches and our trusted partner organization, the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, in continuing our advocacy for sensible policies that promote gun safety and prevent gun violence. There is much we can do to minimize the risk that another AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle is carried into a grocery store (or a school, workplace or house of worship) and used by someone who justifies killing with race-based hatred.
As Amy Spitalnick, Executive Director of Integrity First for America, states: “It’s going to take all of us — the majority of Americans who reject white supremacy and support diversity, inclusion, and a more just society — to defeat the forces of extremism and hate. But always remember that we are the majority. And when we come together, we will win.”
Special thanks to Integrity First for America; Dustin Ward of It Is Time, LLC; Christians Against Christian Nationalism; and Harvard Divinity School for their assistance in compiling these resources.
Resources Recommended by Faithful America
Videos to watch
- “The Threat of Christian Nationalism: Where it’s coming from and how it is being used“: Organized in response to lies from Tony Perkins and Michele Bachmann, this Faithful America webinar from October 12 features our executive director, the Rev. Nathan Empsall, with guests Jemar Tisby, PhD; New York Times bestselling author and historian; the Rev. Jen Butler, Faith in Public Life founder-in-residence; and the Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, president of Sojourners. Dr. Tisby’s list of three ways to talk to Christian nationalists is particularly helpful, during Q&A.
- Christians Against Christian Nationalism webinars: This page features several embedded videos on topics like Christian nationalism’s ties to white supremacy and confronting Christian Nationalism in your own congregation. Some of the speakers include the presiding bishops of both the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
- “Christian Nationalism is on the Ballot in 2022″: On September 28, our friends at the Interfaith Alliance held a briefing on Capitol Hill featuring the Rev. Dr. Richard Cizik from Evangelicals for Democracy, Rep. Jamie Raskin from the January 6th Committee, New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali, and more.
- Instagram videos: Looking for something shorter than a webinar? If you’re on Instagram, you can’t go wrong with the reels and stories from New York pastor and author Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, the historian of race and religion Jemar Tisby, or The New Evangelicals.
Websites and articles to read
- False Prophets Don’t Speak for Me: This new initiative from Faithful America identifies 20 of the top Christian-nationalist leaders in both church and the public square — politicians and pastors alike who hijack our faith for the pursuit of power. We can think of few better examples of a ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing than a leader who uses Jesus’s name to attack equal rights and overturn elections.
- Christians Against Christian Nationalism: Read the statement organized from the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty and endorsed by dozens of Protestant denomination leaders, Catholic activists, and evangelical authors, then add your name along with nearly 30,000 others!
- “What is Christian Nationalism?” A helpful one-page PDF from Christians Against Christian Nationalism.
- “Christian Nationalism 101”: A slightly deeper dive than one page, from Brian Kaylor and Beau Underwood at the faithful Baptist publication Word & Way. It’s behind a paywall, but you can get a seven-day free trial.
- “Christian nationalism and the January 6, 2021 Insurrection”: A comprehensive report on the most obvious ties between Christian nationalism and the political violence and election denial of the MAGA movement.
- “Do We Dare to Disciple People Out of Christian nationalism?”: Commentary from the Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, president of Sojourners
- “Preachers United Against Christian Nationalism”: On World Communion Sunday this year, preachers across the country spoke against the heresy of Christian nationalism. Read about their efforts — and take inspiration from their examples — in this piece from Word & Way. Same as above: It’s behind Substack’s paywall, but you can get a seven-day free trial.
Discussion guides and trainings
- NEW! Study-Action Guide: Jesus & Justice in Public – From the Wisconsin Council of Churches this 6-session study guide is designed to work for a seasonal group study meeting for about an hour a week. If that format isn’t the best for your setting, we encourage you to think creatively and consider retreats or other options. While we know many churches appreciate using studies like this for Lent, nothing restricts you to the Lenten season!
- “Responding to Christian Nationalism”: A 3-lesson curriculum from Christians Against Christian Nationalism that corresponds with the “Democracy and Faith Under Siege: Responding to Christian Nationalism” webinar at the CACN link above.
- “Confronting Christian Nationalism”: A free, three-session training from Vote Common Good with videos and discussion curriculum for faith communities, leaders, and individuals.
- “Politically Divided Congregations: A Curriculum for Reconciliation and Transformation”: The goal of this curriculum from Sojourners is to provide a biblical framework and rationale, plus practical tools and tips, for politically divided churches to create space for civil dialogue and to provide a theological foundation for transformative, faith-inspired engagement in anti-racism and justice work.
- Anthea Butler, “White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America”
- Jennifer Butler, “Who Stole My Bible? Reclaiming Scripture as a Handbook for Resisting Tyranny”
- Kevin Kruse, “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America”
- Jason Stanley, “How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them”
- Katherine Stewart, “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism”
- Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry: “Taking America Back For God: Christian nationalism in the United States”