Today, I want to ask you, what do we do about this? How do you respond? As I have been watching this, I keep coming back to the question: what keeps some people from falling into the trap of this false narrative and what makes way for others going along?
I personally think we make a mistake if we write this off as something “over there” or dying in relevance, but I also don’t want to give it more grand than it should.
Some historians of Christian Nationalism, like Perry and Whitehead in their book, “Taking America Back for God
,” argue it is “declining in size but not in importance” (159).
So I am really curious, from your perspective and I would welcome your responses (below in the comments or by hitting reply to this email):
- What is the proper response to Christian Nationalism in your opinion?
- What can be done about it?
- And how can you make sure that your own faith communities are not susceptible to this influence?
I would love to hear from you what comes to mind or how this is showing up in your communities and what the conversations are like.
I will share a couple of my own responses to this question:
First, Think in Systems.
Because this is a complex problem, I think we need to think in terms of systems and approach the problem from a place where we feel we have the most leverage or buy-in. Here I am thinking about the 5 Interlocking Evils of Empire
: Systemic Racism, Poverty, Militarism and the War Economy, Ecological Devastation, and the Distorted Moral Narrative of Christian Nationalism. Because each of these are interlocking
addressing any one of these (or more than one) will begin a process by which our communities confront the distorted narratives that surround our community. So if the subject of Christian Nationalism itself isn’t the way it, what about another way in? Dig into one of these subjects and let that unfold and guide your community.
Second, Powerful Practices.
There is more to say about this later, but some Anabaptist scholars like James Wm McClendon, Jr. and Nancey Murphy discuss the importance of “powerful practices
.” I think this is a helpful thing to be developed in the face of Christian Nationalism. If Christian Nationalism is in large part about the will to power and developing practices (through liturgy, teaching, policy, law, etc) to sustain the power of a few, communities can also develop “powerful practices” that curb the will to power. Quaker communal decision-making - when it is healthy and everyone is apprenticed to that practice - is an example of a powerful practice because it is setup to keep any one person or idea from overtaking the community. The practice of nonviolence is another powerful practice that can curb the will to power through violence. Developing these kinds of practices in our communities can certainly help inoculate us agains the disease of Christian Nationalism and the religion of empire.
Finally, the Multitude.
Building up communities that are rooted in fusion coalition building
that Rev. William Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign talk about and what King talked about as a “new and unsettling force
” of the poor and dispossessed. I have written about the biblical concept of the “multitude” which I see as very much an older concept of what Barber and others are talking about here. However we discuss it, we need movements that are many-voiced, multi-racial, multi-class, diverse and inclusive. Building the multitude centers the victims of empire and seeks to stand in solidarity with those whose backs are against that wall. That is important work if we are to not only stand up to Christian Nationalism but resist empire in all its forms.
Those are few things that come to my mind. Now it’s your turn. What do you think?