Why Are Some Christian Nationalist Leaders Opposed to Being Called Christian Nationalists?

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Why Are Some Christian Nationalist Leaders Opposed to Being Called Christian Nationalists?


The
other thing to remember is that nationalism is not patriotism. Patriots are
loyal to the polity or collective society of which they are citizens.
Nationalists care only about their ethnic, cultural, or national identity,
which they take to be superior to all others, and which they wish to insert at
the foundation of the civil society to which they happen to belong. In the case
of the United States—perhaps the first republic in the modern world to be
explicitly founded on universal ideals (however imperfectly applied), not
merely national prejudices—this distinction between nationalism and
patriotism makes all the difference.

The
political ideology of Christian nationalism, in direct contrast with America’s
founding ideals, says that government derives its legitimacy not from consent
of the governed but from fidelity to the particular heritage of a particular
people. As Thomas Jefferson pointed out, the American constitutional system
requires a “wall of separation” between church and state. But Christian
nationalists have made it clear that they intend to tear down that wall. 

When
their agenda comes into conflict with the requirements of constitutional
democracy, movement leaders as a whole have made it clear that democracy must
go. Consider movement leaders’ response to the FBI investigation of former
president Donald Trump’s grotesque mishandling of classified material. In a memo
released August 11, the Conservative Action Project, a group associated with
the Council for National Policy, came out swinging against the American system
of justice. It demanded that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI director Christopher Wray be “impeached and removed from
public office,” asserting that their investigation amounted to “blatant
politicization” and a “dangerous escalation without precedent.” Signatories
included many leaders of the movement’s powerful and well-funded policy and
activist groups, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Sandy
Rios of the American Family Association, and Chad Connelly of Faith Wins, all
of whom play outsized roles in rounding up Republican voters at election time
by operating through religious infrastructure. The signatories also included
leaders of the economic hard right, such as Scott Walker of Young America’s
Foundation, Adam Brandon, president of Freedomworks, and Lisa B. Nelson, CEO of
the American Legislative Exchange Council.

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