September 6, 2020

Christian Nationalism: The Platform

American flag and Christian flag

Political parties (and some activist movements or organizations) often develop formal statements of their expressed goals (i.e., platforms). These platforms are typically designed to attract supporters; however, they can also be assumed to reflect at least some of what the party stands for. If you want to look at what the modern Republican Party values, for example, you consult their platform. And if a new activist group comes along and you are curious about what they are up to or why people might want to join, you consult their platform.

While reading Michelle Goldberg's excellent book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, I started thinking about the goals of the Christian nationalist movement. What do they want? If they could modify the American landscape to suit their desires, what would it look like? What do their current political efforts and the statements of their leaders tell us about their plans for America? What might happen if they were to gain even more political power than they already have?

I took notes while reading the book and continued to add to them as I read the national news. My hope was that this would allow me to uncover the platform of influential Christian nationalists in America. At the same time, I felt that it was important to derive the contents of the platform from their own statements, quoted in many different sources, to minimize bias and reduce potential misunderstanding.

Goals of Christian Nationalists

So, what do Christian nationalists hope to accomplish? There is some disagreement and differences of opinion, but the following should give you an idea:

  1. Replace the Constitution with the bible as the ultimate legal authority and basis for all U.S. law.
  2. Criminalize homosexual behavior.
  3. Criminalize abortion and implement severe penalties for persons who perform abortions.
  4. Permit (and even encourage) prayer in the schools.
  5. Replace public welfare with faith-based assistance, the receipt of which may be contingent on conversion to Christianity.
  6. Eliminate judicial independence, making the judiciary directly responsible to the public and/or the other branches of government.
  7. A revisionist history will be developed in which America is imagined as being founded as a Christian nation.

Under Christian Nationalism, non-Christians are second-class citizens. They may be tolerated, but they are certainly not real Americans. The basis of all law is biblical (especially Old Testament) law. Where the Constitution conflicts with this, it is to be changed or disregarded. This will require a totalitarian form of government to replace America's secular democracy. However, this is perfectly acceptable because the Christian god selects America's political leadership, and there is no room for dissenting opinions when law is based on an inerrant source. Religious minorities do not deserve protection because they are destined for hell. There will be no separation of church and state.

Because homosexuality is condemned in the bible, it must be condemned in society. Homosexuals are entitled to their beliefs but will be punished for acting on them. The more extreme believers are already calling for the execution of homosexuals, but I suspect most will put up with them as long as they remain celibate and have no contact with America's children.

James Dobson describes abortion as the "biggest holocaust in world history." Abortion is to be outlawed, and abortionists will be tried (and possibly executed) for their "crimes."

Since the bible commands worship of the Christian god, there is no reason why school children should somehow be exempt. Prayer in school will be encouraged if not mandated.

Public welfare will become the sole purview of churches and other faith-based organizations. Aid may be withheld to nonbelievers or persons from the "wrong" religions; however, the more common approach will involve attempts at conversion. The faith-based agencies will be allowed to hire whoever they want, regardless of whether discrimination is involved.

Judicial independence will be eliminated so that judges are accountability to the will of the Christian majority. A judge who rules against their wishes will be removed. In this way, the Christian faith of the majority will be imposed throughout society.

Finally, a revisionist history under which America can be viewed as a Christian nation will be written to provide legitimacy for the movement. This false and misleading view of history will distort or omit the fact that America used to have a secular Constitution.

Does any of this sound desirable to you? Me neither. Now that we are beginning to understand what they want, we need to solidify our determination to oppose it.

This is a revised and updated version of a post that first appeared on Atheist Revolution in 2006. We have a Christian nationalism problem in the United States, and it is important to understand how it threatens our secular democracy.