A national coalition of Christians has launched a campaign labeling Christian nationalism as “a distortion of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a threat to American democracy.”
More than 3,000 people of faith signed an online statement, “Christians Against Christian Nationalism,” as of July 30. Baptists who signed the statement identified themselves as relating to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist General Convention of Texas, Alliance of Baptists and American Baptist Churches USA.
‘Provides cover for white supremacy’
“Christian nationalism seeks to merge Christian and American identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s constitutional democracy,” the statement reads. “Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian. It often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation. We reject this damaging political ideology and invite our Christian brothers and sisters to join us in opposing this threat to our faith and to our nation.”
The statement goes on to affirm the right and responsibility of people of all faiths and no faith to participate in the public square and to declare that government should not prefer one religion over another.
“Conflating religious authority with political authority is idolatrous and often leads to oppression of minority and other marginalized groups as well as the spiritual impoverishment of religion,” the statement reads.
“We must stand up and speak out against Christian nationalism, especially when it inspires acts of violence and intimidation—including vandalism, bomb threats, arson, hate crimes and attacks on houses of worship—against religious communities at home and abroad.
“Whether we worship at a church, mosque, synagogue or temple, America has no second-class faiths. All are equal under the U.S. Constitution. As Christians, we must speak in one voice condemning Christian nationalism as a distortion of the gospel of Jesus and a threat to American democracy.”
Baptist Joint Committee spearheads campaign
Baptists signing or endorsing the statement include Paul Baxley, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; Jeffrey Haggray, executive director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies; Marv Knox, field coordinator for Fellowship Southwest; and Mitch Randall, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.
“The church of Jesus Christ exists by the power that parted the Red Sea and raised Jesus from the dead, and that power and authority is still at work within us and among us even as empires rise and fall. To suggest that the church needs the protection of the state in order to flourish and thrive is idolatrous,” Baxley said.
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The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty joined other Christian groups in launching the campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of Christian nationalism.
“Christian nationalism is not new. It has ebbed and flowed over many decades, but we seem to be stuck at high tide now,” Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee, wrote in an article for ethicsdaily.com.
“For Christian nationalists, to be a true American is to be a Christian. Of course, that conclusion is at odds with our constitutional principles. The First Amendment protects religious freedom for everyone, and Article VI states that there will be no religious test for public office.
“Christian nationalism threatens religious freedom for all. It asks the government to show preference for Christianity over other religions or religion over nonreligion.”
Initially, Tyler noted, the Baptist Joint Committee approached the campaign as a proposed interfaith project.
“But we quickly learned that our partners did not have the same level of comfort in calling out Christian nationalism that we—as Christians—do,” she wrote. “That makes sense, though it is unsettling to think that by calling out a Christian nationalist, a Jewish or Muslim person may be placing themselves in harm’s way.”
The Baptist Joint Committee has produced a 10-week podcast on Christian nationalism, beginning July 31 and continuing through Oct. 2. The agency, in partnership with EthicsDaily.com and others, also is posting a series of YouTube videos on the subject.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The 2nd paragraph was edited to provide updated information after the article originally was posted. As of 8 a.m. on July 30, the total number of signers was 1,111. By 4 p.m., the total had topped 3,000.