As Trump support merges with Christian nationalism, experts warn of extremist risks

Spread the love

As Trump support merges with Christian nationalism, experts warn of extremist risks:-The phrase “Christian nationalism” seems to be used everywhere all of a sudden.

There are worries about the think tank’s ties to the movement in news stories about a new right group on the rise. In a well-known documentary, the question is raised of whether a new wave of followers will destroy American democracy. And Donald Trump, who is expected to be the Republican nominee, is becoming more and more sure that God picked him and that he is the only one who can save America from Satan.

As Trump support merges with Christian nationalism, experts warn of extremist risks

Three groups of people calling themselves “God’s Army” gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border last month to protest what they called a “influx of immigrants.” On stages hung with Trump flags and banners that said things like “An appeal to heaven,” they prayed and tried to convert people. As people walked between trailers in parking lots, baptisms were held in stock tanks. There was worship music playing over the red, white, and blue colors.

Trump has used more sacred language. Last week, he told a group of religious radio and TV hosts that he was “taking bullets” for Christians. It was Trump who said, “They want to tear down crosses where they can.” “But I promise that no one will touch the cross of Christ while Trump is in office.”

Christian nationalism, which is the idea that the government should support Christianity or even be replaced by it, has been around for a long time, even before Trump became president. But experts said it was something completely new for the former president to join the movement and use more and more Christian nationalist language.

USA TODAY spoke to experts on both faith and extremism who said that the fervor for Christian nationalist ideas has sparked an active political movement. They have been worried about Christian nationalist ideas for a long time, but now they see the new movement as an army ready for a mission, with Trump as its leader. They are scared about what the most extreme members might be told to do if he wins or loses in November.

These people say that the violent uprising on January 6 was full of Christian nationalism’s words and signs. And unlike other groups at the center of that attack, like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, whose leaders were prosecuted for crimes, the radical part of the group has only grown bigger in the last three years.

A religion professor at Skidmore College named Bradley Onishi said, “We can’t just laugh these people off and treat them like a sideshow anymore.” “I believe we should be very worried. We already know that these people are ready to act because of history.

What are Christian nationalism and the Seven Mountain Mandate?

Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, said that Christian nationalism has been a part of American politics since before the country was founded.

The main things that Christian nationalists think are the orthodox and theological beliefs of Christianity, according to Whitehead. A lot of people want to erase the lines between church and state. That can mean anything from believing that religion should have a bigger part in government to thinking that the president is the real Messiah sent by God.

Whitehead said that in real life, and especially in its most modern form, Christian nationalism is linked to other cultural beliefs and values. This is usually paired with a picture of America where only straight, white, Christian, and cisgender people live.

Christians who believe in Christian nationalism would say, “Yeah, we should love our enemies, help our neighbors, and care for those around us.” That being said, they have a very clear idea of what the U.S. is,” Whitehead said. “People who are coming to the U.S. illegally, as refugees, as religious minorities, or as gender and sexual minorities are usually thought of outside of the U.S.”

One of the beliefs that the modern movement has made is called the “Seven Mountain Mandate.”

Followers think this idea came from a message from God to three evangelists in 1975. It became popular in the early 2000s and says that American Christians should try to control seven “mountains” in society today: religion, education, family, media, entertainment, business, and government.

Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon, a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center who has studied Christian nationalism for years, said that the Seven Mountain Mandate or some form of it has become a rallying cry for modern Christian nationalists.

Many people are taking it up and running with it because it’s a great meme for Christian dominance. What Wiinikka-Lydon said.

Far-right leader Charlie Kirk said of Trump at the 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference, “Finally we have a president that understands the seven mountains of cultural influence.”

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker seemed to back the Seven Mountain Mandate on an online radio show late last month, the same day he published an opinion saying that frozen embryos should be thought of as people.

On the show, Parke said, “God created government. That’s why he is calling and equipping people to step back into these mountains right now.” The host of the show often promotes QAnon conspiracy theories.

Wiinikka-Lydon said there’s no doubt that the ideas are becoming more well-known and reaching more people.

“They’re on the fringe, but they’re well-known and well-equipped,” he said. “Right now, I think they’re just a small group trying to take over the world.”

Experts say that the rise of one person, Donald Trump, from a fringe idea to a major motivator is what caused this change.

As Trump support merges with Christian nationalism, experts warn of extremist risks

Also Read:-‘Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed found guilty of involuntary manslaughter

Christian nationalism, the ‘Deep Church’ and Trump’s campaign

According to Baptist pastor and author Brian Kaylor, who has written a lot about the movement, the Christian nationalism belief has been around for at least a hundred years but has never had a well-known leader until Trump.

Kaylor said that Trump has always tried to win over moderate and conservative Christians. Trump is a businessman who has been married three times and doesn’t go to church. He has been found guilty of rape and is facing dozens of criminal charges across the country, including bribery charges related to an affair he had with a porn star.

Kaylor said that since Trump lost the 2020 election, he has become more interested in the ideas, images, and rhetoric of Christian nationalism, especially in the last few months.

Trump put up a video in January on his Truth Social account that said, “God gave us Trump.” On Truth Social, he has shared religious pictures of himself, such as a sketch of him as Jesus in a courtroom from last October. Kaylor said that the former president’s campaign events have become more and more like megachurch services, with worship music playing and people praying together.

Yaya said, “That’s the MAGA church.” “It feels like the start of a whole new religion.”Kaylor and a number of other experts said that what Trump is doing is very different from what other presidents have done, like supporting evangelicalism or talking about faith in public. It goes even further than the efforts of well-known televangelists and religious leaders, whose main goal was to bring new people into churches that were already in place.

“Mainstream churches” have been made fun of by Trump, Kaylor said. He said that the main goal of the MAGA church is not to teach traditional beliefs to its members, but to show Trump as the only one who can “save” Christianity.

“Not only will they talk about the ‘Deep State,’ but also the ‘Deep Church.’ They’ll criticize pastors who don’t preach Trump’s cause,” Kaylor said.

A request for comment was sent to the Trump campaign, but they did not reply.

Whitney Phillips, a professor at the University of Oregon and co-author of the upcoming book “The Shadow Gospel,” warned that some people who are called Christian nationalists are really more like “demonologists.” Phillips said that this extreme right-wing group, which sees Democrats as evil and satanic, is part of a radical and dangerous movement that isn’t really Christian.

Phillips said that calling some Trump followers “Christian nationalists” is unfair because they don’t care about Jesus at all. Phillips said, “A real white Christian nationalist wants the country to follow biblical principle—wants the law to be based on the Bible.” The only thing a demonologist wants is to kill lefties.

An associate professor of Africana studies at the University of Arizona named Erika D. Gault studies religion history and said she thinks Trump knows exactly what he’s doing. The former president is following a long tradition of using religion to shape his own myth by stepping up his use of Christian nationalist language.

As Alexis DeTocqueville put it, Christianity has always been “irresistible.” Gault added sarcastically, “It’s helped build a nation, so why wouldn’t you use it and take advantage of it for yourself?”

Kaylor said, “They give it a new emphasis and a different focus,” just like other Christian traditions that came before it did with the liturgy, symbols, and other parts of Christian practice.

A lot of people are focused on the border between the U.S. and Mexico and what they see as a fight against Democrats right now.

Experts on dangerous domestic extremism are worried about people who are willing to see a national political battle as a fight between good and evil.

Debate over whether Christian nationalism is Christian 

During an interview with a Christian YouTuber in 2023, he said that Christians should “reclaim” the term. He did not agree to an interview for this story.

Wolfe said, “One reason I like the word ‘nationalism’ is that it means there is a national will.” “People saying together, ‘We are going to order ourselves for our own good, and we are going to have the will and the resolve to make that happen.'”

But people who study Christian nationalism are quick to point out that many Christians should find it worrisome that these ideas are linked to Christianity in any way.

Kaylor said that many Christians find it insulting that Trump supports the idea that he was “chosen by God” and that pro-Trump preachers spread this idea.

“They’re applying language that’s meant to be about Jesus and the Bible to Trump as well,” Kaylor said. “That is what historically orthodox Christians would call blasphemy.”

Christians and non-Christians should both be worried about Christian nationalist views on democracy, as well as the violence that people who hold these beliefs might do, said Whitehead, who has written a number of study papers about the movement.

Whitehead talked about surveys he did for his study and said, “They’re more likely to be okay with the idea that we might need a’strong man’ to come in and keep things in order.” The reasoning behind their beliefs is sound: they think that God has a plan for the US and that the only way for the US to stay in God’s good graces is to follow God’s instructions.

The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute released a study at the end of February that found that two-thirds of Americans don’t agree with Christian nationalism or aren’t sure about it. Even more people were turned down in places with more liberal laws, like California and New York.

But the poll shows that Christian nationalism is no longer seen as a fringe trend in states with a lot of religious and conservative people.

In five red states, at least 45% of people polled said they were Christian nationalists or supported it: Mississippi (50%), Alabama (47%), West Virginia (47%) and Louisiana (46%).

Where church meets violence

Politicians have always tried to get religious voters, and many modern political groups, from the Civil Rights movement to the fight to overturn Roe v. Wade, have their roots in Christian beliefs.

Onishi, the religious studies professor, said that when a large part of the population thinks their presidential candidate was actually picked by God, it makes things very hard and dangerous when that candidate loses.

Onishi said the uprising on January 6 wasn’t just a bunch of angry people about politics. He said that the religious zeal of the pro-Trump crowd, which was very much Christian nationalism, sparked the riot. People who couldn’t believe that God’s chosen candidate had lost gathered in large numbers at the U.S. Capitol and prayed, quoted scripture, and then began breaking windows.

Onishi said that Trump had already tried to win over evangelical people in 2021, but he wasn’t fully a Christian nationalist yet.

He said that has changed over the years.

According to Onishi, Trump has worked hard to spread the idea that he was chosen by God and that the issues he fights for are the same ones God is fighting for. This means that if you support Trump, you support God and if you support God, you support Trump.

David Buckley, an associate professor of political science and religion at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, said that should make people in the U.S. nervous, even Christians who back Trump.

A lot of research has been done by Buckley and others on the link between Christian nationalism and political violence. He said that this study shows that Christian nationalists are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, like the idea that presidential elections are rigged, and they are also a lot more likely to think it’s okay to use violence in politics.

“The average American should be very worried about how closely Christian nationalism has become linked to other attitudes, like believing in conspiracies and having racialized grievances, to make a mix that our research shows is very strong,” Buckley said.

Buckley said that religious thought has been a strong driver of political change in the US for a long time. That change has mostly been good.

Also, Buckley and others are still worried about Trump’s use of Christian nationalism to gather his supporters. They are worried not only about the possibility of violence, riots, and terrorist acts if Trump loses in November, but also about the future of democracy if he wins.

Leave a Comment