D. G. Hart On The Temperature Of Christian Nationalism

Just like the PCR test in its take-home version, readers of these books can also take their own Christian nationalist temperature. (Forgive the use of the first-person singular, but I know no other way to report on my own responses.) Bottom line: I tested positive, though at the low end of the Accommodators (which runs between 12 and 17 on the 0–24 spectrum). For instance, I strongly oppose the federal government issuing a declaration that the United States is a Christian nation (0 points). But for the government to advocate Christian values, like banning murder, lying, and stealing, I am unsure about the way to do this (2 points). On the strict enforcement of separating of church and state, I tend to disagree (1 point); the word “strict” is the hang-up, because zeal in doing so can wind up with French-style laïcité, which has never been the American version of relating church and state. On government’s allowing for religious symbols in public spaces (agree 3 points) and prayer in public schools (agree 3 points), I put a lot of weight on “allow.” The verb suggests that government is not going impose such religious expressions but will stand back and let other institutions decide (like local governments or neighborhood associations—even teachers unions). As for the idea that the United States’ success is part of God’s plan (agree 3 points)—how could anyone who believes in a sovereign God not believe some divine purpose is responsible for America’s place in the world? At the same time, “success” is imprecise, since it could indicate approval of America’s emergence as a superpower or it could mean approving of religion’s remarkable prevalence in American society.

All of which is to say that, as with many pollster questions, these phrases are either misleading or imprecise in ways that hardly invite firm conclusions about a response’s meaning. That said, my total points (12) make me a Christian nationalist, a classification that would surprise many who have criticized me in the past for divorcing faith from politics and arguing that the church should mind its own business. (For more on that, see my A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State.) If a conservative Presbyterian who has long argued that the church should stay out of politics tests positive for Christian nationalism, someone could wonder if sociologists need an equivalent to what epidemiologists have in asymptomatic carriers of COVID. Can a class of Christian nationalists exist who have no strong symptoms of this political virus? If so, do they need to be in political isolation?

…The change in tone between the two books, from never-Trumpish to apocalyptic alarm, is striking but likely indicates more about the authors’ own fears than it reflects the actual state of affairs in contemporary America. This essay is not—underscore not—part of a sanguine assessment of contemporary America. Wealth gaps, unimpressive political leadership, incoherent foreign policy, and heightened partisanship that inspired both months of urban riots and January 6—these are just a few reasons for worrying about the United States. At the same time, if authors describe America in ways that lead them to comparisons with Hitler’s Germany and Putin’s Russia, and then describe the dire situation as merely “chaotic and poor,” readers may reach the end of The Flag and the Cross relieved, which is the opposite of the book’s intent. Read More»

D. G. Hart | “The Existential Threat of Anti-Christian Nationalism” | January 9, 2023


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  1. The entire essay is quite informative. Hart referenced his book “A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State.) I saw that Mike Horton gave an endorsement. Would you guys a Heidelblog recommend this book?

    grace and peace,

  2. Beyond the so-called “Christian Nationalist” litmus tests there are other good reasons to be concerned about the direction of politics in the USA other than what some splinter groups might think. For one thing, there is this matter of voter registration. The current Leftist administration has left little doubt that it intends to use every possible means, either legitimate or otherwise, to sway election results in their direction. Not only has this issue surfaced in the matter of allowing illegals the ability to cast votes and even that in their native languages, to boot. But, worse yet, there is this matter of “mail-in ballots.” This overarching attempt by the Democrats enables two things: 1) a round table discussion within family units over which candidate to vote for until it ultimately sways a patriarch who might have otherwise voted more conservatively to join the rest of the family members in the way of compromise, and 2) there have been numerous instances where mail-in ballots, if requested, have been mailed to the same street address containing the proper address containing the names of all previous residents, allowing unscrupulous people to drop all of them into the mail, therefore voting illegally multiple times for the candidate of their choice, skewing the election results. Until Republicans learn to play some of these same dirty tricks themselves the future will continue to drift more and more to the Left as those in power would prefer.

  3. Establishing a straw man to justify some radical overcorrection. Sounds about right….

    “ They call for a “popular front” to defend liberal democracy. This alliance needs to include democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders, classical liberals like Bill Kristol and David French, #NeverTrump evangelicals like Russell Moore and Tim Keller.”

    That sounds pretty coordinated.

    “ And yet, both books are standard-issue university press publications with all the apparatuses of end notes, bibliographies, and scholarly protocol. ”

    See coordinated straw man. The dreamers and their created actuality. Can a strange manufactured utopia be at the end of their rainbow?

    “ Why did scholars 50 years ago practice restraint compared to the hysteria that characterizes academic literature on Christian nationalism today?”
    Cause 2030 is just around the corner. Come on Hart, they aren’t shy about their intentions.

    “That does not sound necessarily suspicious. But it does raise such questions as: How reliable is a survey that is only beginning to be used by peer-reviewed publications?
    ….As a historian who does not use surveys or tables, I am not sure how normal these seemingly less-than-transparent methods are.”

    Better be careful …. Conspiratorial thinking is a threat to academic credibility…. But I think going wherever the evidence leads is the way to go!

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