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Christian Nationalism? Notes for Fundamentalist Friday

Ever since 9/11 (and before that, but not as much) we’ve heard the word “fundamentalism” in the news almost every day. The problem is we don’t get much of an explanation. No doubt, we get the idea that some fundamentalists are at least bigoted or at worst, violent. Fundamentalism, whether we like it or not, is gaining power every day in America thanks to the Religious Right’s promotion of Christian nationalism, which is based on fundamentalist views of the Bible.

Christian fundamentalism involves the notion that Christianity is the only religion that is “right” with God. Its rules for interpreting the Bible, anchored in inerrancy of the Scripture, result in chopping up the the Bible into different time periods called dispensations (among other things) to “prove” it has no contradictions. There’s much more to this topic, but those are the highlights, in my opinion.

The Fundamentals, pamphlets distributed in the 1920s that I wrote about in my first post for Fundamentalist Fridays, set the stage for this version of Christi

By: George Bannister

anity to gain a stronger foothold in our culture. It now permeates our government, i.e. members of “The Religious Right” assert that God tells them to run for office, legislators try to pass laws that deny teaching evolution in schools, the LGBT community is abhorred. The list goes on.

 

I’m still learning about fundamentalism and how it underpins Christian nationalism. I have sought information from many scholars and investigative journalists who’ve put in the time and elbow grease to write books that inform readers who care.

This post will offer some bits from one of them who is a journalist: Michelle Goldberg. Check out her website. Also, from the back cover of her book, Kingdom Coming, (2007), we read she is a contributing writer to Salon. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, the New York Observer, the Guardian (London), Newsday, and elsewhere.

My blog posts, you can be sure, are only meant to pop in to say “Hi.” Books, on the other hand, move into your house and stay a few months. Maybe you’ll be interested in reading ones that I cite here. On other Fridays, I’ll share from other sources.

Kingdom Coming

Kingdom Coming by Michelle Goldberg is about the rise of Christian Nationalism in America. What’s that? In a nutshell, it’s the belief that our country is supposed to be Christian and run by Bible-believing and Bible-obeying Christians in government. It says that Christians, the ones who take literally certain portions of Scripture, have the God-given right to rule the “non-believers.” This is called dominionism, which comes from their idea that God gave Adam dominion over all the earth. This is NOT what the United States of America stands for.

Bits of Background

From page 10: “To understand how the Christian nationalists have consolidated so much power, it is necessary to trace some recent history. The movement has several antecenents, most obviously the fundamentalist preachers (and Nazi sympathizers) Gerald B. Winrod and Gerald L.K. Smith. Depression-era demagogues who railed against communism, modernism, and big government (and, in Winrod’s case, Darwinism), both peddled a right-wing gospel conflating Christianity and patriotism. Smith was the founder of a group called the Christian Nationalist Crusade, whose magazine, The Cross and the Flag, proclaimed, “Christian character is the basis of all real Americanism.” (There’s a note citing the source for this at the back of Goldberg’s book.)

Table of Contents

Most of us have heard the phrase “Ignorance is bliss.” Maybe it is true regarding some things, but not when it comes to deciding who is going to be in charge of others. Sidenote: My father, a microbiologist, used to say, “If you knew what was in your food, you’d never eat.” So there’s that. But to be a good citizen, we need to be an informed citizen. To be enlightened, we need to understand the ignorance that has gained power. I know this ignorance upon which Christian Nationalism is based. I was part of the “religious right” in a fundamentalist cult for seventeen years. It produced a constricted version of myself. It made me view anyone who believed differently as a threat. It made me afraid of doubting my beliefs in order to test whether they were good or not. Until I did. Finally, I began to think again after 17 years of clinging to what I thought was “the truth.” So, fundamentalists can change.

When I wrote my memoir about escaping The Way, a reader of an early version suggested I give my chapters titles that told the story. I did my best with that. In Goldberg’s book, I think her table of contents tells a story, too. A story you might want to read.

Introduction: Taking the Land

Chapter 1: This is a Christian Nation

Chapter 2: Protocols of the Elders of San Francisco: The Political Uses of Homophobia

Chapter 3: Lord of the Laboratory: Intelligent Design and the War on the Enlightenment

Chapter 4: The Faith-Based Gravy Train

Chapter 5: AIDS Is Not the Enemy: Sin, Redemption, and the Abstinence Industry

Chapter 6: No Man, No Problem: The War on the Courts

Conclusion: Exiles in Jesusland

Afterword: Solidarity

Epilogue: After the Fall: The Future of Christian Nationalism

Praise for Kingdom Coming

“Michelle Goldberg ventured into the heartland of American fundamentalist extremism and returned to warn us … Every patriot who still cherishes the freedoms we inherited from the nation’s founders should read her book.” —Joe Conason, author of The Hunting of the President, Big Lies, and The Raw Deal

“A potent wakeup call … An impressive piece of lucid journalism … Carefully researched and riveting.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Happy Friday. Have a great weekend.

Your writer on the wing,

Charlene

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5 Responses

  1. Steve
    | Reply

    Good post.

    I’ve come to realize and observe that Dominionism is to Christianity as Sharia is to Islam.

  2. Charlene
    | Reply

    Interesting observation, Steve. I think those in the Religious Right, as well-meaning as many of them are, miss the reality of what they are really doing to America. In my opinion, the bottom line assumption for their insistence that America must be ruled by Christianity comes from is the belief that the Bible is literally God’s Word. Since they think that, they feel they must obey it — the parts of it they think apply to them — which leaves them no choice but to act as they do and try to force their beliefs on others.
    If churches would do the job of informing people about the sources of the Bible and what it actually is, i.e. an anthology of special “inspired” writings by men from different cultures, etc., (inspired is debatable and a topic far beyond the scope of this blog) then the authority the Religious Right claims would be shot down and we would not be in this damaging situation that often excludes and dehumanizes people of other “faiths” or those who choose non-religion as their path.
    More on that to be found in many other sources than I can possibly include here. Sigh …

  3. Ralph
    | Reply

    The same people who think Obama is a Muslim believe Twumpf is a Christian.
    Bachmann, Cruz, Perry…..all Dominionists. The “Freedom Caucus” is almost entirely comprised of Christian dominionists. Franklin Graham and Falwell Jr. are Dominionists.
    They are using their phony faith as a battering ram to attempt to tear down that bedeviled wall between church and state. And, as of right now, they are deluding themselves into believing, that their hateful god is granting THEM the dominion they invented for themslves.
    Insightful essay Charlene. Thanks!

    • Charlene L. Edge
      | Reply

      Yes, thanks for pointing out the issue of religions of presidents – incorrect in Obama’s case for sure, and which is not supposed to be an issue in America, but some people have made it one.
      And by the way, Bachmann and Pence are both mentioned in Michelle Goldberg’s book.

  4. Roz
    | Reply

    Interesting thoughts, Charlene. I kept thinking of the AL congressman who said last week that people who lived a good life didn’t have pre-existing conditions. My daughter’s response was, “I hope his first heart attack is a big one.”
    My second, pretty much continuous thought, is that I don’t know how these people who consider themselves such good Christians and great Americans can be so hateful. Thanks for your thoughts. I have a long list of books to read, but I will add Michelle Goldberg’s to it.

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