Is There a Wholesome Alternative to Christian Nationalism?

Paul Miller’s critique of political idolatry is persuasive. His defense of patriotic civil religion, less so.

“If ‘Christian nationalism’ is something to be scared of, they’re lying to you,” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) told her supporters in June. “And they’re lying to you on purpose because that is exactly the temperature change that is happening in America today, and they can’t control it.”

Christian nationalism, once triumphant, will “stop the school shootings,” Greene claimed. It will lower crime rates, stop “the sexual immorality,” and guard children’s innocence and train them to want a traditional lifestyle. And it’s this wholesome movement of “Christians, and … people who love their country and want to take care of it” that “liars” in the media are deriding.

Greene is right on two counts: Christian nationalism is increasingly visible in American politics, and the movement has been much discussed in the press these past two years, particularly since journalists began to examine the Christian symbols and language used in the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The rest of Greene’s account leaves more to be desired, but its emphasis on cultural dominance, political power, and protection of one’s own tribe—all topped with a flimsy veneer of Christianity—will be familiar to any reader of Paul D. Miller’s The Religion of American Greatness: What’s Wrong with Christian Nationalism.

Miller is well suited to explain why Christian nationalism, though not “something to be scared of,” is certainly something Christians should reject. He’s a veteran of the US Army, the CIA, and the George W. Bush administration—no stranger to patriotic …

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