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Christian Nationalism Wants to Take Over Your Country

A growing movement with evangelicals at the forefront says that America was founded by and for white Christians and accordingly our government should follow policies that adhere to Christian doctrine. An outlook that has always been conservative has shifted to one of "dominion", a theology that says Christians should move to take control
of government and society to rid us of the leftist "enemy within" which is "evil" and "tyrannical", conducting a "war against truth" — heard from speakers at the Road to Majority Policy Conference in Nashville this June, one of the many Christian-oriented gatherings that take place around the country.

The movement has drawn in a curious mix, those who are convinced the 2020 election was stolen, believe QAnon theories of satanism on the left, are angered by government Covid mandates, and have folded these resentments into their Christian faith.

Among them either as true believers or opportunists are Republican candidates in the coming midterm elections:

Kari Lake, running for governor in Arizona: "You can call us extremists. You can call us domestic terrorists. You know who else was called a lot of names his whole life? Jesus."

Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene: "We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian Nationalists.”

Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert: "The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church" and at a church near Aspen, “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.” Doug Mastriano, running to be Pennsylvania's governor, "So much for this myth of separation of church and state.".

The distrust of government intensified in the pandemic, with evangelicals angered by mask and vaccine edicts and lockdowns that forced the closing of churches. That hostility carried over to about 45% of the 41 million evangelicals in the U.S. saying they would refuse to be vaccinated, according to a survey when Covid vaccines became available by Pew Research. The Christian-right sees same-sex marriages, gender crossover, the steady decline of church affiliation, the mass influx of other races at the southern border, as cause for a mission to restore the country's heritage, which they point to as overwhelmingly Christian and white at its founding.

Their intent is to control the vote and install their own to run the government. A new national poll says that 61% of Republicans think the U.S. should be declared a Christian nation. If democratic methods don't produce desired results, surveys tell us that they are not averse to violence. While not focused on evangelicals in particular, a commonly quoted poll found that 40% of Republicans think violence is justified as a means to desired ends. Interviewed on the PBS NewsHour, Kristin Kobes Du Mez of Calvin University, a Christian university in Grand Rapids, Michigan, sees in the more extreme versions of Christian nationalism

"a willingness to use violence…to restore kind of the rightful order, to restore the rightful dominion over this country, so that it can follow God's path and secure God's blessings".

One need only think of the Christian symbols in the January 6th crowds storming the Capitol.

Christian nationalism disclaims that it wants America to become a theocracy, but much of its rhetoric is biblical. The stated goal of evangelical pastor Jim Garlow's Well Versed Ministry is “Bringing biblical principles of governance to governmental leaders”. He avers that Biden and Harris advance an “ideology” that is “anti-Christ, anti-Biblical to its core.” Teresa Beukers quit a job at Trader Joe’s when the company required her to wear a mask. “Go ahead and throw us in the lions’ den, go ahead and throw us in the furnace.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis intoned that,

"We need people all over the country to be willing to put on that full armor of God, to stand firm against the left's schemes. You will be met with flaming arrows, but the shield of faith will stop them."

A New York Times account made this observation:

"At events across the United States, it is not unusual for participants to describe encountering the divine and feel they are doing their part to install God’s kingdom on earth. For them, right-wing political activity itself is becoming a holy act."

Jenna Ellis, co-counsel for the Trump campaign and now adviser to Mastriano, rhapsodized to an event audience, “what it really means to truly be America first, what it truly means to pursue happiness, what it truly means to be a Christian nation are all actually the same thing.”

CLOSED CIRCLE

Christian nationalism relies heavily on creating its own reality. It is a hermetic world of text messaging, of religious networks, of faith healers delivering a paranoid view. So from Mitchell Hoyt, with a maple syrup business in Wisconsin, we hear praise for The Epoch Times because “they just give you the facts of what’s happening.” One America News Network is the only trustworthy information source for Candy Grossi, a retired apartment manager and a self-published author in Georgia. She also follows QAnon. All have reputations for promoting conspiracy theories and invented stories.

Nothing dislodges belief held by a pronounced majority of Christian nationalists that the 2020 election was stolen. They have no evidence and base their skepticism of the American electoral process on no more than cherished but disproven anecdotes or that "something doesn't seem right". (see our "Big Lie Believers Don’t Get How Ridiculous It Is, and They Are") A woman from Arizona told Sarah Longwell, writing for The Atlantic, “I think what convinced me more that the election was fixed was how vehemently they have said it wasn’t.” Truth is not so much suppressed than drowned out by insistence in a stolen election elevated to incantation.

According to a Public Religion Research Institute survey conducted late last year, evangelicals are the most likely religious group to be believers in QAnon, whose foundational premise is that Democrats operate a Satan-worshipping child-sex trafficking ring. There is the added paranoia that they not only vocally resist Covid vaccines but evangelicals are turning against vaccines in general as yet another attempt by government to control their lives.

Stephanie Nana, an evangelical Christian in Edmond, Oklahoma, refused to get anti-Covid vaccinated because she believed it contained “aborted cell tissue.” Tuning in to religion-with-politics talk radio, listeners are told of a local hospital with only two Covid patients, but “They have 103 vaccine-complication patients!”. Or, because the distrust in the vaccines that they allege is so great, they hear that “between 100 and 200 United States Congress members", their staffers, and family members chose to be treated with Ivermectin. A nutritionist outside of Dallas said she did not need the vaccine because, given the right nutrients, God designed the body to heal itself, “It would be God’s will if I am here or if I am not here.”

POLITICS MIXED WITH PRAYER

Evangelical churches have been forced to take up politics — and only the right kind — or watch churchgoers head for the door. Politics has increasingly been shaping faith among evangelicals, rather than the other way around. Pastors “get their people for one hour, and Sean Hannity gets them for the next 20,” was how Joel Rainey, who leads Covenant Church in Shepherdstown, WestVirginia, put it. If you came to worship at Church for All Nations, a large nondenominational evangelical church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, you instead were treated to an hour-long Power Point presentation on the sins of socialism and the deep state. Our source says that congregants came with pens and notebooks.

Members of a congregation would leave for another church if pastors would not infuse their sermons with right-wing political doctrine. “We didn’t leave the church, the church left us”, a church member told the writer of this article, an evangelist himself. For a sense of what that congregant was looking for, he went on to say, “Covid, the whole thing, is the biggest lie perpetrated on humanity that we’re ever going to see in our lifetime. And they fell for it.” When the lead pastor at Denver United Church criticized some Christians for siding with the January 6th rioters, he lost about a hundred members of his congregation of about 1,500. They sought a church where they would have their political views confirmed from the pulpit as righteous.

A pastor was asked "What percentage of churches would you say are grappling with these issues?" He said he answered, "One hundred percent. All of them. I don’t know of a single church that’s not affected by this." To not be shuttered by empty pews, thousands of churches have become cells that amplify rightwing political doctrine lest they lose their parishioners.

Churches host outright political groups (there seems to be no sign of policing them for tax status violations). "I didn't see a cross but I did see American flags — lots of them", wrote this reporter when he attended a church that was hosting an event by Stand Up Michigan, a group that in May of last year was protesting Governor Gretchen Whitmer's health mandates. "Attendees wore MAGA caps and Second Amendment–related shirts. I didn’t see a single person carrying a Bible".

WHITE AFFILIATED, NOT CHURCH AFFILIATED

"An attack on Donald Trump is an attack on Christians", said a member of FloodGate Church, in Brighton, Michigan, and that the 2020 election was stolen was part of a “demonic” plot against Christian America.
Christian nationalists look upon Donald Trump as their leader. They cast aside his innumerable transgressions because they believe he delivers for them. Other candidates and presidents traditionally speak with words of uplift, promising a better future. Trump is entirely negative, critical of everything, voicing the grievances of his voter base, his inflammatory rhetoric matching the thoughts of those who feel that America has left them behind. Stirring fear of white Christian replacement by the hordes crossing the southern border, he tells them they are under attack, that they must fight back, "or you won't have a country anymore." Of supposedly open border Democrats Trump said, “Your way of life is under assault by these people.”

The Democrats' election victory ushered in “the whole godless ideology that’s wanted to swallow our homes, destroy our marriages, throw our children into rivers of confusion”, said a key speaker at a Family Research Council virtual prayer gathering. He tells of “how the left has done a power grab to systematically dismantle religion and banish God from the lips, minds, and hearts of believers.”

Attending a Trump rally, Brian Kelly of Fayetteville, North Carolina, said he felt Trump understood that “the people who experience most discrimination right now are us Christians.” David Harris Jr. of Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University tells his audience:

"If you’re a believer, and you believe God appointed Donald J. Trump to run this country, to lead this country, and you believe as I do that he will be re-elected the President of the United States, then friends, you’ve got to guard your heart, you’ve got to guard your peace. Right now we are at war."

The Colorado Springs speaker we alluded to earlier, William Federer, told his listeners that the failure of Donald Trump to retain power in the January 6th insurrection had let loose "the floodgates of hell" that are "raining down upon every one of us. And, lo and behold, an anti-Christian spirit’s been released across the country and the world.”

Tami Jackson, a member of a collection of hard-right groups in northern California called the Shasta County Freedom Coalition, came to Trump's first rally of this year in Florence, Arizona, i. Politics for her is a spiritual struggle to know what God is doing. “This is a Jesus movement,” Ms. Jackson said. “I believe God removed Donald for a time, so the church would wake up and have confidence in itself again to take our country back.”

Andrew Torba founded Gab, a free speech social media platform where he hopes to build “a coalition of Christian nationalists at the local and state levels to help pioneer a grass-roots movement of Christians…to help take the country back for the glory of God.” In email he wrote…“Jesus Christ is King of Kings and we are going to lawfully, peacefully, and democratically take back this country and our culture in his name. There is absolutely nothing you or any of the other powers and principalities can do to stop us.”

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