The Lurking Evil of Christian Nationalism

Column by Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Frantz on 25 May 2023 0 Comments

Christian nationalists - who are overwhelmingly white - think they are privileged and that their privileged status comes from God.  Historically, they see the United States as the new Israel, a nation designated by God as a shining light on a hill to the rest of the world.  

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How do Jesus-following Christians fight the evil that the White National Christian organizations create? A friend told me to 'pray.' But I'm feeling we need something a tad more militant... or if not militant, more assertive.  I'm concerned that the Germans, Jewish, and European peoples all prayed for safety, but that alone was not enough. 


Dear Jean,

Thank you for your question.  I read it as an invitation, really.  And, for Jesus-following Christians, it is the most pressing invitation of our times.  Please, Readers, receive my response as but one in a cascade of other Jesus-following responses for meeting the greed, hatred and violence that is White Christian Nationalism.  Here goes… 

Yes, as your friend suggested, let’s definitely all pray.  And let’s continue to educate ourselves and one another on the racist, xenophobic history that fueled the founding of United States.  There are many forums and instructors who are prioritizing this truth-telling, including the, “Things that Matter,” series hosted by Progressive Christianity and an episode last fall on Confronting White Nationalism with Dr Traci West and Dr Grey Carey.  Let’s ask our churches, small groups and spiritual communities to take local action where we can:
* Provide background information on political candidates and ballot measures
* Participate in local demonstrations that support Jesus-following values, choose BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) owned business
* Move your money and purchases into spaces that don’t feed the banks and multi-nationals that are fueled by the systemic violence that is, “take, burn, dump.” 
Do you remember the musical, “Cabaret”?  The Emcee invites Berliners to cast off the “bore” of politics and to escape bigotry’s gloom by coming to the club,
No use permitting some prophet of doom, to wipe every smile away;
Life is a Cabaret, old chum; Come to the Cabaret!

False prophets have always existed and today, they are multiplying worldwide!  Hiding out in the Cabaret (or the online shopping cart, etc) is familiar but not skillful.  However… bringing the Cabaret into the streets and the marketplace might allow for some insightful and persuasive community theatre, right?  Jesus was all about it!  It’s nearly impossible to change an entire system at once, but by creating the communities we believe in, and sharing our values visibly, we affirm our beliefs and that’s a joyful thing, no?  Let’s keep choosing life, art and playfulness in the ways we can while we confront, resist and persist.  And here’s my last one, maybe the hardest.  Let’s listen deeply for the fears living behind the words.  Behind all of the White Nationalist hate, there is a canyon of fear and ravine of shame.  There is a primal desire in all of us to be loved and to belong.  As Jesus-followers, we call on Radical Love to create truth-seeing, reparation, forgiveness.  In the moments when this becomes possible, may our hearts and words mirror those of Jesus.
What more can we add to this list of invitations?  Please share!

~ Rev. Lauren Van Ham




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