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)
Let us consider this for a second.
Since Perry and Whitehead want to begin with cultural frameworks let us spend a little time first talking about culture and then how culture will always express itself nationalistically.
I would contend that culture is defined as the outward manifestation of a people’s inward belief. To make that even pithier, culture is theology externalized. Yet a third way to speak about this is that culture is the consequence of some theology poured over ethnicity. The constant in these definitions is that culture is inescapably tied to theology.
If that is true (and it is) the cultural frameworks will always and inescapably include a collection of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems since those realities are downstream of theology. Those collections of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems as a cultural framework will then always and inevitably be the result of some fusion with some religion becoming American civic life. The Christian Nationalist merely steps up to the microphone and insists that the inevitable fusion with religion that is going to occur — the fusion in question — be a fusion with Christianity as opposed to a fusion with some other religion. In other words, a Nation can’t exist apart from some religion creating its culture. The Nation itself, in terms of how it constitutes itself, is a living and breathing expression of religion. For Perry and Whitehead to imply that Christians shouldn’t desire a Christian Nationalism then is just a backdoor special pleading for some other kind of Nationalism that they favor.
The next step out from this is that what results in culture and theology being tied together, as they inescapably are, is always some kind of Nationalism. Even the Internationalist who says he hates Nationalism is advocating for Global Nationalism.
My point here is that Perry and Whitehead and Tim Keller and Russell Moore are one and all Nationalists. Their beef with Christian Nationalism is that it is not their version of Christian Nationalism. Their beef is that the Nationalism they are railing against is not the kind of Nationalism that they desire.
Perry and Whitehead and later Keller on steroids rails against nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and heteronormativity. Yet in all that railing all I hear is a plea on their part for a Nationalism that is alienist xenophilic, non-white supremacist, egalitarian, and sexually pluralistic. At least for Keller, he seems to think that this would be Christian nationalism at its best.
Next, where is the sin in some of these realities that Perry and Whitehead describe in their inquisition against Christian Nationalism? Where is the sin in abjuring multiculturalism in favor of the native? Is White Supremacy in lands settled and created by white people any more curious than Japanese Supremacy in the land that the Japanese ancestors settled and created? And as Scripture teaches patriarchy all Christian nations should have their social order structured around Christian patriarchy then patriarchy is a positive good. Finally, obviously, there is a great deal of horror in heternormativity. How could any Christian Nationalist ever desire that?
Perry and Whitehead start making it up when they suggest that Christian Nationalism is about authoritarian control and militarism. Remember, our Christian ancestors were the ones who created a divided government with checks and balances. That hardly sounds like authoritarian control. In terms of Militarism, we Christians were the ones who originally insisted that there should be no standing army and only a small navy.
Finally, as politics is downstream of theology and as theology creates culture as expressed by distinct peoples then of course Christian Nationalism is as ethnic and political as it is religious. So what?
When it is all said and done Perry and Whitehead are merely bitching that some people out there desire a different Nationalism as based on a different religion than they do. They want a Nationalism that is the exact opposite of what they are complaining about and as such they seek to criminalize the Christian Nationalism that makes them scream like Junior High girls seeing a mouse in the shower.