The use of the term “Christian Nationalism” has picked up steam lately among both mainstream news outlets and within right-wing politics, with the former using it as an object of fear and the latter embracing the term wholeheartedly. Politicians such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and Lauren Boebert have gladly associated themselves with the title, with many others tacitly siding with this growing national movement. Given the controversy surrounding the term, what precisely does it mean to be a Christian Nationalist?
The first to try to answer this question was the Left, who created the term. The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, one of the biggest advocates for the separation of church and state, proposed “five core beliefs” for Christian Nationalism:
- America is a divinely appointed nation by God that is Christian.
- America’s founders, rather than wanting to disestablish religion as a unifier for the nation, were in fact establishing a nation based on Christian principles, with white men as the leaders.
- Others (Native Americans, enslaved Africans, and immigrants) would accept and cede to this narrative of America as a Christian nation and accept their leadership.
- America has a special place, not just in world history, but in biblical scripture, especially concerning the return of Christ.
- There is no separation between Church and state.
Since the BJC considers itself an outspoken combatant of Christian Nationalism, the veracity of these “core beliefs” being held by any self-proclaimed Christian Nationalist is dubious at best. It would be better to hear straight from the horse’s mouth: what do Christian Nationalists say that Christian Nationalism is?
Andrew Torba, CEO of Gab Inc., offers an answer. His recent book, Christian Nationalism: A Biblical Guide for Taking Dominion and Discipling Nations, attempts to assert what Christian Nationalists believe on their own terms and does a much better job at portraying the movement than the Left does. Torba, now well known in the conservative movement, spent many years creating and growing his own website Gab, a free speech alternative to Twitter, as well as building his own payment processors and video platform. His book does a great deal to refute or otherwise correct the slander Christian Nationalists receive.
The first and fourth points the BJC makes, that America was divinely chosen by God, and that it has a special place, not just in world history, but in biblical scripture, especially concerning the return of Christ, is completely incorrect. Torba writes:
“Let’s make one thing very clear: Christian Nationalism is not idolatry. We do not idolize or worship our nation. We merely seek to preserve and protect our homes and the interests of our neighbors and families. While we honor the rich history of our country, we do not worship the founding fathers or think America is ‘chosen by God,’ as many in the media wrongfully speculate. Christian Nationalism is not a marriage of the gospel with patriotism. We don’t believe that America was ‘uniquely chosen by God’ as a ‘promised land.’ We also do not believe that Christianity has a geographic central base outside of the kingdom of heaven, not in America, nor in modern-day Israel for that matter.”
Christian Nationalists are not American exceptionalists. American exceptionalism claims that America is inherently different from other nations. While Christian Nationalists hold America in high regard, they do not hold it higher than the kingdom of God.
As for points two and three, the idea that the founders intended America to be a nation based on Christian principles, with white men as the leaders, and everyone else having to accept that, is historically completely true. Torba spends a good deal of the book providing a very well-researched historical examination of the inherent relationship between church and state in
America. He shows how all of the constitutions of the 13 original states had belief in the Christian God as a minimum requirement for holding office, proving that Christian Nationalism is not a new ideology, but rather what the people who founded this country believed in from the beginning. Additionally, anyone can look at the Naturalization Acts of 1791, 1795, 1798, and 1802 to see that the founders intended for America’s population to be a white supermajority.
Liberals may bemoan these policies as “evil,” but they cannot claim that their own values match up with the founders, whereas Christian Nationalists can claim to derive their ideas from the fathers of the country.
Finally, the fifth point, that “there is no separation of Church and State,” is fundamentally misleading. Christian Nationalists believe in a distinction between church and state, just not a total separation. “Christendom has always supported secularity but not secularism. Secularity is understood as a functional separation between church and state government and religion…Christians are Integralists, not theocrats, in that we have always favored two separate institutions—one for religion, the church, and one for government, the state.” Integralism is the key part of Christian Nationalism in regard to the first amendment. While the state is still independent of the church, its laws are rooted in the church’s understanding of the world.
Fake Christian groups like the BJC also insinuate that America was made for all religions, which is another myth, and directly advocate for Christianity’s withdrawal from public life. Christian Nationalism corrects two very important errors of mainstream conservative thought resulting from this myth. Firstly, it excludes the term “Judeo” from the overused term
“Judeo-Christian values.” Torba handles this subject elegantly and candidly, showing that
“Judeo-Christian” is an outright contradictory term, as one religion proclaims faith in Jesus
Christ as God and the sole means of salvation, and the other proclaims that Jesus is burning in Hell. Secondly, the book hammers in the idea that Christianity is not a private matter for one’s own inner life, but is also something that must be the primary part of one’s public identity. It encourages Christians to put their beliefs unapologetically in the public arena, not just as platitudes or quips as so many Republican politicians do, but as a way of life.
Further, the main message of the book, “building a parallel Christian society to replace a failed secular state,” indicates clearly the ideal middle ground between the cowards who want to “silently infiltrate the institutions,” and “no political solution” accelerationists. There has always existed an accelerationist wing within the dissident right hellbent on making it worse before it gets better. The problem with this mindset is that the people who advocate it have no understanding of how to build anything from ashes and rubble. Destroying the system succeeds in hurting everyone, but does not do much more than that. This mindset is ultimately nihilistic, which is why the people who most often support it aren’t even Christian. By building a parallel Christian society, Torba offers a new mantra—the system will collapse under its own weight, but it is up to Christian Nationalists to have built up a parallel society in order to preserve and perpetuate civilization.
America has historically always been a majority protestant nation. Yet despite the book placing focus on Evangelical Protestantism, Torba does not limit Christian Nationalism to any one denomination. As an ideology, Christian Nationalism is ultimately rooted in the tenets of the Catholic faith. Its main concepts, such as integralism, subsidiarity, and the social reign of Christ the King, are all drawn from Catholic writings of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and the first half of the twentieth century. Torba writes, “In many parts of America, Christian Nationalism will take either a Protestant or Catholic approach. It is up to Christian Nationalists in each country and state to determine the specifics of what their movement looks like.” As the largest single denomination in America, Catholicism will likely be leading at least at a national level. Torba himself admits that there are a lot of problems in Evangelical Protestantism since most Evangelical churches are pro-Israel, silent on political issues like abortion and sodomy, or too focused on millennialism. Thus, much of the book focuses on curbing these issues within
Torba’s book serves as a model example of what a protestant Christian Nationalist state, say Georgia for example, would look like. Nevertheless, often the best and most successful Christian movements are the ones led by Catholics. Take for example the pro-life movement. By far the most successful Christian movement in modern history, the pro-life movement has had Catholics leading it since its inception. Additionally, four of the justices responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade, Alito, Thomas, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, were practicing Catholics. This example shows that all good Christian men can bond together to establish and secure a prosperous American nation, and that virtue, morality, and good government are not limited to any particular sect.
As a whole, Christian Nationalism shows great promise. It is dominating the Amazon bestseller list, to such a degree that even the Jewish Insider cannot help but remark at its success.
This surge in sales is despite the fact that if you look up “Christian Nationalism book” on Google, it doesn’t appear. And, as the Jewish Insider points out: “it has received virtually no attention from the mainstream media or even the conservative press, even as a number of leading publications have documented Torba’s recent controversies.” The article also made sure to do their due diligence by calling Torba “the controversial founder of a social media platform for white Nationalists,” and dismissing his book as a “radically caustic if ambiguously plotted attempt to formalize and add some discipline to the nascent Christian Nationalist movement.” Bad names from these journalists should be badges of honor.
A Christian Nationalist is anti-nihilistic, practical, and prayerful. Christian Nationalism rejects nihilism, outlines practical solutions to the country’s problems, and encourages hope in God, making it a must-have for any Christian Nationalist. Torba reminds us to be tools for the
Lord, to take courage, and to remind us that we cannot fail if we are following God’s will. Yes, the message is radical, as the Christian message has always been radical. But it is true, and it is real.