Christian Nationalism, the Liberal Remix

While the dangerous ideology of Christian Nationalism is most often (correctly) associated with the right, its liberal variant must be confronted as well.

I have written and spoken extensively about the extremely real dangers of the right-wing Christian Nationalism ideology that we saw on full display throughout the Trump presidency and especially during the January 6 coup attempt. I think it’s a serious and entirely-malevolent movement that needs to be confronted and eradicated, especially by Christians.

Biden, Ascendant

Biden’s inauguration took place over a month ago so it certainly seems late to be talking about it — especially in the context of a non-stop, 24/7 news cycle — but there are some aspects of it that I think definitely need to be addressed. Particularly, I want to critically look at some of the ways that Christianity was intertwined with a more benign seeming form of nationalism at the ceremony.

Christian Nationalism’s Friendlier Face

Christian Nationalism is something that many people aren’t thinking about in regards to Joe Biden, largely because it was such an obvious facet of the Trump regime. And, just like child migrant detention centers, it’s a story that seemed to fade away instantly on January 20th.

The Idolatry Critique

One thing that is clear to me about both right-wing and liberal Christian nationalism is that boiled down they are both idolatrous. From a religious point of view, that’s extremely problematic. Obviously, making an idol of anything is giant no-no in Christianity. This idolatry critique of any sort of nationalism is one that is extremely common among Christian anarchists; you’ve seen this argument if you’ve read from people such as Jacques Ellul, Leo Tolstoy, Adin Ballou, William Cavanaugh, etc.

The Materialist Critique

I mentioned earlier my fear that the standard Hauerwasian idolatry critique of liberal Christian Nationalism was insufficient. Ultimately, I reject the idea that politics is fundamentally bad and I think there is room for Christians to be politically involved and in government. I think it is an incredibly hard thing to do, but I think it’s possible. For another reason, the idolatry critique only works on people who 1) can be convinced that they have turned their nation into an idol and 2) who are concerned about idolatry to begin with. I’m not convinced that the majority of people fit into these categories.

Biden and the Christian Left

This Christian prominence in the New Democratic government (executive and legislative) has a lot of people hyping up the ascendency of the “Christian Left”. A strong narrative seems to be that the Christian Left ascended simultaneously with Biden. Now, if you’re familiar with my thoughts on liberalism, you likely know that conflating liberalism and leftism really grinds my gears. Do I consider a lot of liberals as part of the broad political left? Yes, definitely. But equating the two is no different than saying that all squares are rectangles or that all pizzas are pepperoni. At best, it’s an extreme mischaracterization.

Avid reader, compulsive writer | Tolstoy, Hauerwas, & D. B. Hart | “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

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