As pro-Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, many Christian leaders had been horrified to see the insurrectionists carrying and holding Christian symbols, as many rioters prayed for God’s blessings on their actions.
These stark scenes led some Christian leaders to come collectively to develop assets that they hope will assist curb a current surge in Christian nationalism, which they view as not solely harmful to American democracy however to their spiritual religion itself. As many conservative Christians—and notably white evangelicals—have embraced former President Donald Trump, different religion leaders throughout the spiritual neighborhood have developed a brand new curriculum to handle the “heretical” beliefs of the Christian nationalist motion.
Pastor Doug Pagitt, the chief director of Vote Common Good, and Amanda Tyler, who leads Christians Against Christian Nationalism, informed Newsweek that the political motion has been alive throughout the U.S. for many years, however that Trump embraced and emboldened Christian nationalists. They stated this led to a surge in the motion’s visibility and prominence over the previous a number of years.
“January 6 made it clear that those roots had grown very, very deep in the society and were now tied into a whole lot of other movements that were seriously dangerous,” Pagitt stated. “It’s kind of been an escalating shift to really now—not to view this only as a problem for the faithful, but a problem for the planet and the country.”
Tyler stated the nation started seeing “increasing instances of Christian nationalism” just a little over two years in the past. She stated this included “increasing violent incidents.” She identified that Christian nationalism has ties to white nationalism, emphasizing that these beliefs had been used to justify slavery, Jim Crow legal guidelines in the South and segregation. These hyperlinks had been obvious throughout the rebel, as a lot of Trump’s supporters carried Confederate flags or wore symbols denoting an affiliation with white supremacist beliefs.
The shared concern about the specter of Christian nationalism led Tyler’s group to develop a brand new curriculum that can be utilized by church leaders as a useful resource to educate their communities in regards to the issues with the ideology. Tyler stated that the curriculum might be utilized by “individual congregations or small groups,” whether or not in seminars, discussions or Bible research. Pagitt and Tyler defined that many church leaders had reached out asking for assets, and so they realized there was a big hole when it got here to supplies addressing the issues of Christian nationalism.
Dozens of pastors and Christian leaders in conservative states are already planning to make the most of the brand new curriculum, which is able to formally be launched on July 6. Pagitt’s group is working with Christians Against Christian National to promote the supplies via a large community of pastors, paid advertisements and different means. Faith leaders in states together with Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, amongst others, plan to preach from the curriculum in a nationwide week of motion following the launch.
The curriculum, which was reviewed by Newsweek, gives a collection of classes together with questions and Biblical references to assist spiritual leaders focus on Christian nationalism with fellow believers. The materials describes Christian nationalism as a “troubling ideology” and defines it as “a cultural framework that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life.”
The Constitution prohibits the imposition of any spiritual ideology by the federal government. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” the First Amendment to the Constitution says. While Christians—and all spiritual teams—are assured the liberty to follow their religion with out authorities interference, the federal government can also be barred from imposing spiritual beliefs on the general public.
Despite this core constitutional precept, Trump and lots of Republican lawmakers have pushed ahead an agenda that blurs the road the founders put down to separate church and state. Conservative Christian voters—and notably white evangelicals—responded with enthusiasm. Exit polls from 2016 and 2020 confirmed that roughly eight in 10 white evangelicals forged their ballots for Trump in each elections. Prominent Trump allies and conspiracy theorists—akin to Mike Lindell—frequently tout their religious beliefs to clarify their continued help for the previous president and his claims in regards to the 2020 election.
“Growing up in a small farming community in the Bible Belt, I assumed that to be a good American meant to be a good Christian and to be a good Christian meant to be a good American. That was simply the framework that I was given,” Reverend Pastor Michael Mills of the Agape Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, informed Newsweek. He is without doubt one of the Christian leaders who plans to make the most of the brand new curriculum, which is able to formally be launched on July 6.
Mills defined he finally realized that “to meld a Christian and an American identity actually is a disservice to both.” Although the pastor stated it is troublesome to change individuals’s views, he stated that “appealing to my Christian sisters and brothers in the love of Jesus has to be the pathway forward.”
Stephen Okay. Reeves, director of advocacy at Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Georgia, informed Newsweek that he’s “optimistic” in regards to the new curriculum, which he plans to make the most of as effectively.
“In many spaces, Christian nationalism is a default ideology that is rarely challenged. Inviting folks to think more deeply about what they may believe or see around them gives them the opportunity to change. I believe putting an explicitly Christian lens on such conversations is very important,” Reeves stated.
Reverend Pastor Jillian Hankamer of First Baptist Church in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, who additionally plans to use the brand new supplies, informed Newsweek that she believes Christian nationalism got here “to a head because we had a president who didn’t mind taking advantage of people of faith to further his own narcissistic need for power and adoration.” Hankamer stated she did not “believe [Trump] genuinely shared their convictions but rather saw an opportunity to use the power of the evangelical vote—which is formidable—and took it, ruthlessly.”
Dr. Heather Thompson Day, an affiliate professor of communication and rhetoric at Colorado Christian University and the writer of the Christian e-book It’s Not Your Turn, informed Newsweek that altering individuals’s minds is troublesome. The writer and tutorial, who shouldn’t be concerned with the brand new curriculum, emphasised that constructing private relationships is the important thing.
“I feel confident that I can strengthen the hands of the people who are listening, to reach out to their friends and families who value their relationship. This is work that must be done from within. We can’t just write people off and say there’s no reaching them. Especially as a Christians,” she stated.
Thompson Day defined that “we can’t enter conversations with the goal of changing people’s minds,” however we must always “enter relationships where we commit to seeing people’s value even if we disagree with them, and overtime, our relationship does rub off on them.”
Pagitt, Tyler and the Christian leaders planning to make the most of the brand new supplies hope that via small group discussions, Bible research and one-on-one conversations these assets may help shift the views of Christians who could already be feeling uncomfortable with the nationalism promoted by some inside their neighborhood. They additionally imagine it may be a software to assist present new views for many who could have by no means questioned the ideology of Christian nationalism earlier than.
“I think hopeful is the right word,” Tyler stated. “We’re in this for the long game. You know, Christians Against Christian Nationalism, we’ve been around already for two years devoted to this single issue and it’s going to be a very long time for us to dismantle an ideology that has been pervasive and part of the American experience since our beginning.”