Since the Jericho March in December and the events of January 6th, “Christian nationalism” has become a bogeyman. In the process, secular and Christian elites have fused indistinguishably and are working hand-in-glove to neuter Christianity as a public presence while simultaneously strangling the burgeoning nationalist movement in the crib. The standard epithets—racist, nativist, white supremacist—are casually directed at white Christians yearning for nothing more than to live in the country of their grandparents.
A template has also been established. Rather than produce a robust biblical or theological analysis, an academic misconstrues and caricatures Christian nationalism, defining it as outside the parameters of historic orthodoxy. Seeking accommodation with elites, celebrity pastors assume the efficacy of the given Politically Correct definitions and label any related viewpoints as heresy and a threat to the “moral witness” of the church.
Writing in the New York Times, Thomas Edsall, citing Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry’s book Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States, ominously warned that, “It’s impossible to understand the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol without addressing the movement that has come to be known as Christian nationalism.”
Perry and Whitehead define Christian nationalism as:
..a cultural framework—a collection of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems—that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life … the ‘Christianity’ of Christian nationalism represents something more than religion. As we will show, it includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism. It is as ethnic and political as it is religious. (p. 10)
Author and pastor Tim Keller, famous for his book The Reason for God, reviewed Taking America Back For God for the quarterly Life in the Gospel. “We must recognize that Christian Nationalism in its most pure form is indeed idolatrous,” Keller somberly intoned. “It looks to political power as the thing that will truly save us”
Russell Moore, leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, also denounced Christian nationalism as a heresy. The wrath of God,” said Moore, “is revealed against ‘Blood and soil.’”
And in February, 100 housebroken evangelicals signed an open letter “condemning the role of ‘radicalized Christian nationalism’ in feeding the political extremism that led to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former President Donald Trump”
But who will enforce the new orthodoxy against the “heretics”? Though many Christian institutions have been browbeaten into conformity with the shibboleths of Cultural Marxism, a remnant of largely leaderless Christian nationalists persists in the hinterlands, resisting assimilation into a new Tower of Babel.
Enter the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), abetted by Big Tech and a compliant press. The scattered holdouts who refuse to bend the knee to Baal, even if they are culturally and politically powerless, must be targeted with public shaming and ritual humiliation.
The SPLC, America’s most successful and prosperous hate group, recently released its 2020 Hate Map and Hate List. Since 1971, the SPLC has raised hundreds of millions of dollars peddling the myth that Middle America is teeming with legions of hatemongers draped in Klan hoods waving copies of the Turner Diaries and the Bible.
As always, the SPLC chronicle of the “hate industry” includes immigration restrictionists. VDARE, along with the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), made the cut.
But the SPLC casts a wide net. Its definition of hate is elastic enough to encompass not just the Westboro Baptist Church and Aryan Brotherhood but also relatively bland Christian organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, the Ruth Institute, D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM), and more.
However, it is not merely large Christian organizations with national platforms that earn the “hate group” moniker. In central Michigan, for instance, a small rural congregation (and its pastor, Bret McAtee) was named a “White Nationalist” hate group by the SPLC.
What are the criteria for being defined as a hate group? Mark Potok, who spent twenty years with the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Lansing State Journal that McAtee’s words, both spoken and written, are likely what landed the small church on its hate map. Potok explained that it is about the ideology of the group or its leaders rather than concrete and specific acts:
“Our criteria for a ‘hate group,’ first of all, have nothing to do with criminality, or violence, or any kind of guess we’re making about ‘this group could be dangerous.’ It’s strictly ideological. So we look at a group and we say, ‘Does this group, in its platform statements, or the speeches of its leader or leaders… Does this group say that a whole group of people, by virtue of their group characteristics, is somehow less?’”
Potok has said openly that the motivation of the SPLC is to destroy groups that it targets for ideological reasons.
“Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate groups, I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, completely destroy them,” Potok said at an event in Michigan in 2007.
Lamentably, with the pretense of objectivity, the SPLC is not just the arbiter of bigotry but also the media’s expert witness for evaluating “extremism.” When the SPLC releases its Hate Map the media respond like Pavlovian dogs, producing salacious and often slanderous stories about the “racists” and nationalists allegedly terrorizing Middle America. The purpose is to silence dissenters and exile social traditionalists and nationalists to the periphery of American life for the crime of articulating positions that were common, indeed almost universal, until the 1960s. And the hive descended upon pastor McAtee.
Michigan Public Radio (MPR) claimed McAtee, “has maligned a panoply of persons and groups, including LGBTQ individuals, feminists, non-Christian immigrants…other pastors, and people who support diversity.” The Fox affiliate in Lansing offered coverage and the Lansing State Journal (LSJ), said McAtee “frequently expresses racist, white nationalist, homophobic and transphobic views.”
MPR offered no quotations or links to buttress their claims. The LSJ and Fox47 casually and carelessly ripped portions of McAtee’s blog posts from their broader context to build an indictment not supported by his words.
Indeed, many of McAtee’s challenges to the smelly orthodoxies of our era were fairly standard conservative cultural critiques until quite recently. Echoing the warnings of Sam Francis about Anarcho-Tyranny, McAtee said “diversity” is a weapon designed to produce statism. Multiculturalism is built on an egalitarian foundation, fueled by envy, and wielded so as to further undermine the cracked foundations of the West.
A “multicultural, multi-faith, multi-racial, pluralist diverse social order…is the death of the West and the God who made the West,” said McAtee.
Adding to his list of transgressions, McAtee has unapologetically argued that nationalism is natural, taught in scripture, and affirmed historically by the church.
“God still deals with people as being members of nations, peoples, and races,” wrote McAtee. “This is a very unsavory truth for the modern Evangelical with their love affair for the erasure of all the creation distinctions. God has not given up on nations anymore than He has given up on families from where nations arise.”
And here we get to the heart of the matter. The “heretical ” teaching being attacked is Christian nationalism.
McAtee and his congregation had a loose affiliation with the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). The CRC has been in decline for decades, a consequence of its ongoing theological drift into apostate liberalism. In 2018, McAtee was released from the CRC after a dispute over his teaching of “Kinism.” In 2019, a CRC synod declared Kinists heretics. What exactly is Kinism?
Kinism is a variant of Christian Nationalism that rests on a series of theological assumptions about social relations associated with traditional doctrines of Reformed Protestantism. It begins with the assertion that men are inherently religious creatures and that all “government” is by definition theocratic in nature. Whether personal or familial, church or state, every system and social order is necessarily faith-based and presuppositional rather than religiously neutral or empiricist in nature.
Second, the normative order for families and nations, which are a product of extended families, is primarily racial and ethnic rather than propositional. Culture is principally though not exclusively a product of people and place more so than ideas.
In this view, even multiculturalists have a “theocratic” view of authority and a tribal anthropology: by the power of reason (their deity), they construct a global order which blends all racial and national distinctions into a single people, the race of Adam or humanity (their tribe). The dispute thus is over the teaching of holy scripture and the church. Is cosmopolitanism, globalism or empire a Christian social order? Or does the divine economy rest upon nations?
For 2,000 years, Christians have taught that national, ethnic, and language groups are not arbitrary human creations or social constructs, but divinely created entities that reflect the purposes and glory of God.
Nations arise organically as extensions of families and in the Old Testament nations are the descendents of a particular ancestor (See Genesis 10). People organize themselves into distinct groups for the purpose of securing safety and providing a series of collective goods. Nations have a collective identity and a shared ancestry along with a shared worldview that is the product of a common language, religion, and customs.
God created tribes, nations and races to have an affinity for their own people. This is expressed in the words of St. Paul in Romans 9:3: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” A deep affection for one’s kinsmen is natural and good, indeed an outgrowth of the commandment to honor our fathers and mothers. And nationalism is simply the self-conscious awareness that seeks to develop and improve the nation and to codify its existence with the laws, government, mores, and institutions that make civic life possible.
Scripture likewise teaches that nations serve the purpose of aiding man by pointing to greater transcendent realities. Boundaries and nations are designed to point us to God himself.
“He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.” (Acts 17:26-27)
Christ assumed the goodness of unique nations, teaching that the gospel does not flatten or eliminate nations. He commanded the church to disciple nations as nations, not merely as individuals: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).
The church–Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox–has also taught that nationalism is biblical, an aspect of personal piety, and a reflection of the goodness of God.
“The Bible recognizes the validity and rightness of all the constitutional principles and impulses of our nature.” wrote Presbyterian Charles Hodge. “It therefore approves of parental and filial affection, and, as is plain from this and other passages, of peculiar love for the people of our own race and country.”
Thomas Aquinas said:
Man is a debtor chiefly to his parents and his country, after God. Wherefore just as it belongs to religion to give worship to God, so does it belong to piety, in the second place, to give worship to one’s parents and one’s country [i.e., one’s people]. The worship due to our parents includes the worship given to all our kindred, since our kinfolk are those who descend from the same parents.
“Nations,” said Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his Nobel Prize speech, “are the wealth of humanity, its generalized personalities. The least among them has its own special colors, and harbors within itself a special aspect of God’s design.
It should also go without saying Christian Nationalism is not “White Supremacy,” but applies these biblical principles to all national groups–red and yellow, black and white. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not an affront to this natural order and does not seek to overthrow it.