For years, I have been closely tracking Christian nationalism and sounding the alarm about it. Greene’s recent comments mark an alarming shift in the public conversation about Christian nationalism.
Until recently, the public figures who most embrace Christian nationalism in their rhetoric and policies have either denied its existence or claimed that those of us who are calling it out are engaging in name-calling. But Greene is evidently reading from a different script now — explicitly embracing the identity as her own and urging others to join her.
Though not new, Christian nationalism has been exploited in recent years by politicians like former President Donald Trump to further an “us vs. them” mentality and send a message that only Christians can be “real” Americans.
Growing support for Christian nationalism comes at a time when the political ideology behind it poses increasingly urgent threats to American democracy and to religious freedom. Perhaps the most chilling example of Christian nationalism came on the most public of world stages, from some Trump supporters during the January 6 insurrection.
I care about dismantling Christian nationalism both because I’m a practicing Christian and because I’m a patriotic American — and no, those identities are not the same. As Christians, we can’t allow Greene, Boebert or Trump to distort our faith without a fight.
We must speak loudly when our faith is used as a political tool, we must uproot it from our own churches and communities and we must form alliances with religious minorities and the nonreligious — who suffer the impact of Christian nationalism the most.
Religion, and Christianity in particular, has flourished in America not because of government aid or favoritism, but for the opposite reason: religion’s freedom from government control. Government involvement in religious affairs doesn’t aid the free exercise of religion. And as Christians, we are called to love our neighbors rather than make them feel unwelcome in their own country.
Christian nationalism, while pervasive and long-standing, cannot be normalized. I think Christians, who continue to make up a majority of Americans, have a special responsibility to step up at this critical moment to reject Christian nationalism.
Christian lawmakers should choose a different path from Greene and Boebert by calling out Christian nationalism without ignoring their own faith and the religious pluralism that is a significant part of our country’s identity. Christian nationalism runs wild in a society where its peddlers are the only ones talking about the role of Christianity in public life.
We all have work to do because it’s not just the relatively few self-proclaimed Christian nationalists we have to worry about; it’s the way the ideology infects so much of American politics and American Christianity often without us even realizing it.
American Christians can and should be self-critical about the ways our faith and our country have been influenced by Christian nationalism, and we need to come together to loudly reject those who would embrace it as their identity and as a policy direction for the country.
An earlier version of this op-ed included an incorrect date for the launch of Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign, which began in 2019.