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📢 The False Narrative of Christian Nationalism Pt. 2

C. Wess Daniels
C. Wess Daniels
Greetings Friends,
It is sunny and warm here in North Carolina. A little odd for February but glad to have a break in the weather so we can be outside more. I’ve enjoyed the last couple of days of taking meetings and doing work out on my front porch, one of my favorite places to be.
This week I’ve got some new things for you:
✨ New look! I continue to tweak some things behind the scenes in the hopes of having a clean and simple newsletter for you all to read and engage with.
📱New (periodic) Sections!
App of the Week: Some of you know how nerdy I am about learning and discovering new apps. Now all of you will know. These are apps I have found useful and want to share with you.
Updates & Follow Up: Short news items and updates that may be of interest.
📢 Part 2 on Christian Nationalism!
I am excited to share this next issue with you on Identifying Christian Nationalism. There is a lot packed in here. Take your time, bookmark stuff, save things for later. Come back to it as you can. Christian Nationalism isn’t going anywhere fast so we will need to continue to work on this.
Feel free to reply to this message or leave a comment below if you’d like to let me know what you think or have any questions.
In Solidarity,
C. Wess Daniels
Greensboro, NC (Haw River Watershed)

Trump holding a Bible in Front of St. John's in DC after tearing gassing protestors for this photo op
Trump holding a Bible in Front of St. John's in DC after tearing gassing protestors for this photo op
📢 The False Narrative of Christian Nationalism Pt. 2
I’m in the middle of two different dystopian narratives at the moment: Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents and the TV version of Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale. In both stories, Butler and Atwood narrate a future in which something very much like Christian Nationalism is ruling the country through tyranny and violence. In Butler’s version, the President of the country is also the head of a Christian Nationalist denomination and pastor. In Atwood’s version, fertile women are enslaved in sexual servitude for the purpose of reproduction for the upper-class, justified by weird interpretations and proof-texting of Scriptural passages.
Both honestly neither feel far off or out of the realm of possibility.
Josh Jordan
A golden statue of Trump is as good a summary of CPAC as one could possibly make. https://t.co/tW0zFobjyh
Do we have a good sense of what Christian Nationalism is? Its roots? Its identifying marks? And what to do about it?
Since the riots on January 6th, there has been, for obvious reasons, an uptick in conversation around Christian Nationalism. There have been conversations on countless podcasts, blog posts, sites like Religion Dispatches and Sojourners, and even NPR is doing stories on it (see below in dress-down Friday for some further reading).
But how do we talk about the core characteristics in as clear a way as possible? Here are some of the identity markers as I understand them:
Identifying Characteristics of White Christian Nationalism
1. Christian Nationalism freely uses symbolism, biblical and theological language, and other forms of Christian liturgy in service to maintaining influence and power within the Empire. This blending of Christian symbols to baptize empire goes back at least as far as Constantine. 
@liztheo in the article below, points out many issues w Christian Nationalism, most notably Pence’s rewriting a second of the Letter to the Hebrews in his RNC speech:
“Let’s fix our eyes on Old Glory [replacing Jesus with the American Flag] and all she represents…” 
The rise of Christian Nationalism in America | Salon.com
I have written about the use of symbolism on behalf of empire in my book “Resisting Empire: The book of Revelation as Resistance” and how the Book of Revelation (as an anti-empire text) unveils ways that symbolism and Christian liturgy can be utilized by the religion of empire.
2. Christian Nationalism unifies around the exercise of the will to power and use of violence justified through the selective use of biblical texts and theological reasoning meant to underwrite “the religion of empire.”
As I mentioned last week, unity is found in pursuing and maintaining power more so than through a set of shared beliefs or religiosity.
This is one of the arguments that Whitehead and Perry make in the book “Taking America Back for God.”
“Christian Nationalism is not about religious revival but pwr & privilege over society…, calling out Trump’s immorality & corruption is not an effective strategy for resisting Christian nationalism bc for C. nationalists Trump is ‘fully orthodox’ & delivers on what is most wanted—namely, power.”
Here is a great review of the book “Taking America Back for God” which goes in-depth on Christian Nationalism and describes a lot of this: https://shrtm.nu/7pqQ
3. Christian Nationalism’s theology is “based upon the lie of scarcity.”
Scarcity is rooted in an exclusionist understanding of a vengeful God and impacts not only theology & social structures like family, church, and society, it is rooted is found in what the book of Revelation reveals as “beastly economics.“
"the accepted [false] moral narrative America has blamed poor people for their poverty, pitted people against each other (united in us vs them), separated systemic racism from poverty and ecology and the war economy, and spread the lie of scarcity…” via @unitethepoor
For more on the above quote from the #poorpeoplescampaign and how scarcity fits into economics see the thorough report “The Souls of Poor Folks.“
See this essay for a further explanation of the “beastly economics of empire” and how that fits into a liberative reading of the book of Revelation:
Beastly Economics & King’s Vision for the Poor People’s Campaign – Gathering in Light
4. Christian Nationalism relies on the “scapegoat mechanism” to reinforce social boundaries and theological exclusion specifically (in the U.S.) targeting non-white communities or other people seen as the enemy (often in our case “too liberal” or un-Christian).
5. Christian Nationalism thrives on narratives of “providence” & “chosen (white) people,” writing laws to protect, benefit, & enforce religious preferences & identity of this "chosen” people (from the doctrine of discovery to Jim Crow to Sunday Blue laws and more).
6. Christian Nationalism points to a new future not yet realized in order to create unity. This new future promises to rid the world of those who persecute or stand in the way of “God’s kingdom.” This future of exclusion becomes a rallying point.
7. Christian Nationalism misidentifies as the victim rather than the victimizer. It identifies itself as Biblical Israel rather than Biblical Rome. Religious and political authorities play off of this and rally their base in ways that reinforce the myth of the (mis)identified victim.
Therefore, Christian Nationalism is in part a misidentification, or perhaps an over-identification, with Jesus who is the (innocent) victim.
For Christian nationalists “we are the victims” being gathered up and vindicated.
8. Christian Nationalism functions as a spiritual “Power” that David Dark characterizes well as #whitesupremacistantichristpoltergeist
This is a spirit that whips people up into a frenzy, generating a mob-mentality (& ironically ends up protecting the status quo & empire). This is another way of talking about something similar to Walter Wink’s “Powers and Principalities.”
David Dark describes why this is a useful way of thinking about this “spirit” in this long and very useful thread that walks through many examples of the #whitesupremacistantichristpoltergeist:
David Dark’s Worship Circle
Calling it a spirit helps me have compassion on myself and others while also acknowledging that I've often been complicit in a system that's often served the ends of white supremacist terror. My blindness to it doesn't change the fact of it. WSAP is real AND ridiculous.
9. Christian Nationalism employs “The Secret.” You can’t trust outside voices and authorities because they are hiding something. Thus fake news, misinformation, the big lie, & conspiracy theories make up for the lack of information.
The secret has been leveraged by Christian Nationalists as being more powerful than observable truths. “If you only knew…”
This is a way of organizing power that is unverifiable but appeals to emotions like fears and uncertainty. Analysis of this includes looking for what secrets are being appealed to as an authority but never revealed.
10. Christian Nationalism organizes all of this within hyper-masculinity and patriarchy promoting rigid gender roles & heteronormativity and violence as a norm (e.g. The Handmaid’s Tale). Patriarchy - as a force that seeks power & violence “for good” - is the apparatus containing these other disparate features. Mediation through a male “head” and “messiah” is key.
It is important that God is the all-powerful male and therefore inscribes the inescapable patriarchal apparatus onto all of creation
Listen to this incredible podcast with @kkdumez about her recent and highly recommended book “Jesus and John Wayne” for more on this thread.
Ultimately, Christian Nationalists seem to be eager to hand over their freedoms to autocratic figures (political leaders, pastor, husband) because it turns out that in their theology God is an autocratic figure as well.
Footnotes:
Here was the initial question with great suggestions:
Wess Daniels - ‘I am a trapeze artist’
In your opinion:

Who’s doing the best/most important work right now around understanding and unpacking Christian Fascism?
Here is a thread with some of the key texts I’ve been looking at in developing this:
Wess Daniels - ‘I am a trapeze artist’
Re-reading this helpful thread in preparation for a class on Thursday where we will be discussing Christian Nationalism and Fascism. https://t.co/vo1EJCZXRQ
Updates & Follow Up
Jim Hood was named the Interim President of Guilford College. Jim is one of the most trusted and loved members of our community. We are excited for this news.
Since posting part 1 on my series on Christian Nationalism Christian leaders from around the country have been signing on to a letter openly condemning Christian Nationalism taking this conversation to a more national level. Learn more and sign on here.
I was interviewed for Quaker Speak yesterday. Rebecca Hamilton-Levi, a Guilford graduate, who is now the person behind Quaker Speak did a fantastic job with the interview, asking great questions and really guiding a good conversation. I look forward to sharing it with you as soon as it is published.
Retweets
Josiah R. Daniels
Pronouns are confusing now, eh? Ok then what’s this all about? https://t.co/gDgREyZ5X3
Dress Down Friday Links
Links for you to read and check out. Some casual, some not so casual but either way, I think you’ll find these interesting.
Valerie June - Performance & Interview (Live on KEXP at Home)
Valerie June - Performance & Interview (Live on KEXP at Home)
Using Roam for your spiritual growth stack | RoamBrain.com
Your digital place for focus. Mix different sounds and create your perfect sound environment to work and relax.
I Miss My Bar - Recreate Your Favorite Bar's Atmosphere
Send a Mixtape - Give a digital playlist on a hand-crafted paper cassette
📱 App of the Week: Coda.io
Coda is a more powerful, beautiful google docs.
Coda is a more powerful, beautiful google docs.
Recently, I was looking for a way to share some information via a document with some folks I’m working with. Google docs is not only boring it is also really limited in what you can share and how you can structure information. So I went looking around. Enter Coda.io.
Coda.io is at its core an easily shareable, publishable editor for beautiful documents. Check it out. They have a great free plan. Students, teachers, and non-profits can get a free or heavily-reduced pro-account. Here’s my referral code for a $10 credit.
🧠 Wise Words by Oscar Romero
“This is Christ’s mission, 
to take the good news to the poor,
to those who receive only bad news,
to those who are always trampled by the powerful, 
to those who watch pass by, out of their reach,
the riches that satisfy others… 
The Lord comes for them,
to make them happy
and to tell them: Do not covet.
Count yourselves happy and wealthy
with the great gift brought to you
by the one who being rich became poor to be with you.”
-Oscar Romero 
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Thank you! -Wess 💚☕️
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C. Wess Daniels
C. Wess Daniels @cwdaniels

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Wess (Greensboro, NC)

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