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The boogeyman of Christian nationalism
Of course Christians should want our government to reflect Christian principles and morality.
I have heard Christian conservatives say that that the United States is a "Christian nation" for all of my life. The Moral Majority sought to put Christian principles in law in the 1980's and the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council continued that in the 1990's. It has only been in the last few years that Christian conservatism has gotten the label of "Christian nationalism" and has been described by Christian conservatives as dangerous.
So let's get this out of the way: No, this is not a white supremacist movement. Ever since the rise of the Very Online "alt right" in 2015-2016, many Leftists have seen white supremacists and neo-Nazis around every corner and hiding under every bush. But Christian nationalism is not a racial movement. It is tied to a religion that has always accepted people of every color and nationality. Are there racists who advocate Christian nationalism? Of course there are. But every movement has cranks. Not every "Christian nationalist" is a crank, and not every environmentalist supports violently beating corporate executives.
Unfortunately, the influence of Donald Trump distorts the debate over Christian nationalism as it does over so many other things. Whether someone supports the movement or not is seen as a sign of loyalty or opposition to Trump. Christian nationalism is tied to "Make America Great Again" and has been blamed for the violence and vandalism of January 6, 2021. The influence here is especially strange since Trump is clearly not a Christian. But if we're going to have a serious discussion about Christian nationalism then we need to take Trump out of it.
As I said in my opening paragraph, none of this is new. In fact, it goes back to the founding of the country and the formation of the various states. The belief that the USA is a Christian nation existed long before Trump was born and will continue long after Trump dies. Explicitly tying this to Donald Trump ignores history as recent as 20 years ago.
Is the USA a unique nation in world history? Not really. The British Empire was critical in spreading Christianity across the globe before these United States ever existed. Has God used these United States in amazing ways? Certainly. But is this nation specifically chosen by God? No. If this nation fell apart today, God could still spread His kingdom as far as He wants. God does not need these United States to accomplish His will.
The problem with some Christian nationalists is they explicitly tie Christianity to these United States. But Christianity has never been tied to one nation or people group. That ended when Jesus Christ died on the cross and expanded the Gospel from the Jews to the entire world. The Great Commission makes that clear, and that Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth. Let's not tie the Gospel to American patriotism.
Should Christians seek to put Christian principles in government? Of course we should. We should protect the weak, encourage public morality, and support families. We certainly should not have tax-funded K-12 schools pushing anti-Christian ideals to their students. Having the civil government support the cause of righteousness is woven throughout Scripture and is a constant theme throughout American history. If people want to apply the label "Christian nationalism" to that, fine. However, I will continue using the term "Christian conservative."
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