Is Christian Nationalism Dangerous? by Michael L. Brown for Ask Dr Brown
Is Christian nationalism dangerous? That all depends on what you mean by the term.
On the one hand, there is no shortage of warnings today from the left about the alleged danger of Christian nationalism.
As expressed by conservative author Jason Mattera, “Over the last few years, we’ve been subjected to a barrage of ‘alarming’ stories in left-stream media outlets about the rise of this scary, menacing boogeyman. Christian Nationalism, as the hyperventilating goes, poses a danger to the well-being of the United States and is a betrayal of genuine Christianity.”
In stark contrast, John Zmirak, a conservative Catholic scholar and cultural commentator, views the term as positive, referring it “to American civic religion circa 1960, where broadly Christian ideas about human nature, marriage, and life prevailed.” In his view, the more the left reviles the term “Christian nationalism,” the more we should embrace it.
What about the perception of the general public? How do most Americans view the concept of Christian nationalism?
I’m not aware of any scientific polls that have asked that question, but I did my own, totally unscientific, quite limited poll on my Twitter account, asking, “How do you define ‘Christian nationalism,’ and in your view, is this a positive or negative term? (You can answer the first part of the question in the comments and the second part in the poll.)”
Bear in mind that most of my Twitter followers are fellow-conservatives and fellow-believers, and a strong majority of them voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.
Still, of the 1,085 respondents to the poll, 66.3 percent viewed the term as negative, 18.9 percent as positive, 11.1 percent were not sure, and just 3.8 percent had not heard of the term.
That poll reflects my sentiments as well: I do not like the term or see it as positive or helpful since, for many, it reflects the unhealthy marriage of the gospel and politics, blurring the distinction between the kingdom of God and patriotism. As one Twitter user put it (quoting from another source), “Christian nationalism can be reasonably understood as a movement that seeks to preserve or promote a Christian national identity.”
This definition also suggests that America has a special covenant with God, and so being a Christian nationalist means helping America fulfill its God-appointed, covenantal destiny. Consequently, it is no problem to wrap the gospel in the American flag, since America is a Christian nation with a Christian calling.
In that same spirit, I have seen preachers standing behind pulpits with the American flag draped over their shoulders as they called for Christians to rise up in force and “stop the steal” (referring to the 2020 elections). The kingdom of God and the nation of America were now merged together as one.