The term “Christian Nationalism” was coined by the political Left, in an attempt to frighten people into fear of politically-active Christians. It’s most used by Leftist media and news outlets, in a nearly hysterical way, so as to incite as much panic among their viewers and readers as possible. It’s often thrown in with the words “White” or “White Nationalism” as a way of attempting to link racism into the propaganda, so as to further inflame the fears of their viewing and reading audience. There is nothing new about this tactic. Leftists have been attaching “racism” to everyone who disagrees with them for a very long time. What is new is the religious connection. Now, it’s politically-active Christians who are the “threat.”
In truth, there is no such thing as “White Christian Nationalism.” It doesn’t exist. The political Left would have us believe that it’s not all Christians who are “dangerous,” but only the White Christians, and particularly those who are politically active. They would have us think, if their propaganda is to be believed, that any White person, who considers himself a Christian, and is politically active in a conservative way, is a “White Christian Nationalist,” that is part of a “racist cult,” that is a “threat to democracy” and a “danger to America.” These quoted phrases don’t come from me. They come from the political Left. I’m using their rhetoric here, not my own. Perhaps their propaganda would be laughable, were it not coming from the likes of major media outlets like: CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, NPR, RNS, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Yahoo, and the Washington Post just to name a handful. This list is by no means exhaustive. It just shows the major players.
So what exactly is “Christian Nationalism.” As I said above, the political Left’s version of it doesn’t exist. The real version, meaning the one that Christians in this nation might identify with, is simply this. It’s Christians who love the United States of America, and believe that voting their conscience, in accord with their Christian beliefs, is the best way to help the nation they love.
That is the real “Christian Nationalism.”
The movement is fairly new among Evangelicals. The last time it was seen among the Evangelicals was during the abolition movement, to outlaw slavery, in the 1830s – 60s. Evangelicals got their asses handed to them following the Prohibition Movement in the early 1910s – 20s, as many Evangelicals made the horrible mistake of supporting Prohibition during that time. The movement was a miserable failure, which was eventually overturned. Since then, Evangelicals largely kept out of politics until the Pro-Life Movement started in the middle 1970s.
Evangelicals learned a tough lesson, the hard way, that bringing Christianity into politics works very well when it involves defending the rights of the weak and downtrodden. However, when it comes to legally enforcing a Christian virtue — like temperance for example — that is not what the government is for and it results in failure. For Evangelicals, this lesson is new. For Catholics, however, we learned this lesson over a thousand years ago.
From a Catholic perspective, Evangelicals have reached a point now where we can finally work with them politically. They’ve learned the tough lessons, the hard way, and it took them about a century. Actually, that shouldn’t be surprising. We, as Catholics, learned this lesson over a thousand years ago, but it probably took us equally as long. The Catholic Church has formulated its teaching on civil government in a philosophy called “integralism.” This is the idea that basic teachings on Christian morality should be enshrined into civil law, but at the same time, the government can only do so much. It’s up to individual citizens to practice personal virtue, civility and restraint. The government can’t do that for them. I discussed this in greater detail on my previous article, entitled A Catholic Approach to American Politics. Please consider reading it.
The concept of integralism, is absolutely terrifying to the political Left. It may even be their worst possible fear. This is because it’s the only political/moral philosophy that they cannot beat with their propaganda and demonizing. That’s why they have to misrepresent Christian voters as some kind of “racist cult.” It’s the only way they can attack Christian voters without looking like they’re attacking Christians in general.
Since the majority of “Christian Nationalist” are Evangelicals, the political Left hopes to isolate that sect of Christianity alone, and pit the other Christian denominations against them. Don’t fall for it! This is the classical “divide and conquer” tactic. They’ve already got a number of liberal Christians talking against it. These are “Christians” (usually liberal Protestants and Catholics) who have no problem with abortion-on-demand and same-sex “marriage.” By going to these “Christians” for support, the political Left can gain the appearance of legitimacy. However, we all know the truth. These so-called “Christians” oppose the basic morality Christianity teaches, especially the Catholic Church, and in truth they are nothing more than puppets of the political Left themselves.
In response, Evangelical “Christian Nationalists” have begun embracing the term. It was originally intended as a slur to disparage them, but the Evangelicals don’t see anything wrong with it, and therefore no need to resist the label. As a Catholic, I agree with them. A Christian is merely a follower of Christ. While a Nationalist is merely a person who strongly identifies with his own nation and vigorously supports it. A growing number of Evangelicals are beginning to say this describes them perfectly, so they are happy to use the term in reference to themselves. As for the moniker “White,” that’s just inaccurate. While many Evangelicals are European in ancestry, a very large number of them are African, with a growing number of Asians and Latinos.
Furthermore, the term “Christian Nationalist,” as defined by the political Left, technically covers practicing Catholics as well, regardless of race or ancestry. The Catholic Church has always taught “integralism” and “patriotism” in one way or another (see my essay on Catholics in politics here). So to be a good Catholic means being a “Christian Nationalist” too, in our own way. We are instructed, by Holy Mother Church, to participate in the political process, as Christians, bringing basic Christian morality into civil law, whenever possible and practical to do so.
What the political Left may not realize is that their propaganda campaign against Evangelicals is unwittingly an attack on Catholics as well. They’ve become so blinded by the Cafeteria Catholicism of Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, that they’ve forgotten the majority of Catholics in America identify with neither Biden nor Pelosi, seeing them and their ilk as religious sellouts. The position of the political Left has always been, the only good Christian is one who doesn’t really keep the faith. This is especially true with Catholics, as Cafeteria Catholics like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are rewarded with political support, even ascending to the highest offices of the land. While Practicing Catholics, like Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett are labelled as “dangerous” and a “threat to America,” barely making it onto the Supreme Court with an unprecedented level of slander and distain. “The only good Catholic is a bad Catholic.” That’s the motto of the Left when it comes to Catholics in politics.
So is it okay for Catholics to identify as Christian Nationalists? Sure! So long as we do so in light of Catholic teaching on politics (see how here), and we don’t adopt the religious mindset of Evangelicals. That said, however, Catholics and Evangelicals have a lot in common when it comes to politics alone. We are both Pro-Life. We both value basic Christian morality. We both value the United States as a good thing, which ought to be preserved if possible. If it cannot be preserved, it will only be because of the militancy of the political Left, but even then Catholics can find good things about America to preserve in whatever new nations that might emerge from the fall of the United States. No matter what, Catholics must be good Catholics, and that includes being good patriots. So if identifying as a “Christian Nationalist” helps you do this, go for it!
Back in 1994, Catholic and Evangelical leaders signed a pact to work together politically in the United States. It was the closest thing to an ecumenical agreement that Catholics and Evangelicals will ever be able to accomplish. Both agreed to disagree on some doctrinal issues, but they also agreed to work together on political issues whenever and wherever possible. It was called Evangelicals and Catholics Together, or ECT, and you can read it here. This agreement, this pact, is what brought about the Supreme Court majority we have today, which ended Roe v. Wade, bolstered states rights, and defined a constitutional right to conceal and carry a firearm. This is only the beginning for this court, and now the fruit of ECT has resulted in a political alliance within the Republican Party that will soon take over the party entirely, putting “Christian Nationalists” into every sector of the federal government. ECT has already secured many state governments as “Christian Nationalist” as well. We know these as the Red States, and my home state of Missouri is one of them.
This political alliance, between Evangelicals and Catholics, is working out quite well, and as Catholics we should support it. That’s what Holy Mother Church would have us do, in spite of the dissatisfaction of many liberal prelates and clergy, who have always pushed the political model of keeping our heads down and not rocking the boat. These cowardly men have given us nothing but shrinking dioceses, parish closures, church vandalism and arson. They’re not worthy to be listened to. The Catholic Church has given us everything we need to know in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (CSD), and those prelates/clergy who are unwilling to work with the Evangelicals, to bring that about in America, need to do some soul searching. Are they living the teachings of the Church in the CSD? Are they keeping the ecumenical spirit of ECT? If not, they should confess and repent, because “Christian Nationalism” is what Holy Mother Church has always taught, in her own way.