By Rev. Dr. David Anderman
White christian nationalism is a hot topic right now – nationally and around ORUCC. Over 65 people participated in our nine-week class on white christian nationalism, including friends from five other congregations. Our main text was The 7 Deadly Sins of White Christian Nationalism: A Call to Action by Carter Heyward, supplemented by The Psychology of Christian Nationalism: Why People Are Drawn In and How to Talk Across the Divide by Pamela Cooper-White and by various random resources and references I brought in.
For most of the participants, many of the issues related to white christian nationalism were personal. So our discussions were lively, sometimes heated (in good ways), informative, and productive. By the end of the class, we were able to recognize more quickly the underlying white christian nationalist ideology of many current political issues, and to see ways in which the Bible and traditional Christian symbols are mis-used to led legitimacy to unchristian actions.
While we discussed Heyward’s various ‘calls to action,’ we left hanging the question of how ORUCC might respond to these issues. Look for more to come as our class discussions feed indirectly now into the ongoing life of the church.
Here is one of the best short descriptions of white christian nationalism: “The deep story of white Christian nationalism was already fully formed by around 1690, nearly three centuries before the emergence of the New Christian Right. It was woven together out of three stories taken from the Christian Bible: the Chosen People story, the End Times story and the Racial Curse story. Who counted as ‘white,’ ‘Christian,’ and ‘American’ has changed over time But the basic plot line has remained the same: America is a white Christian nation whose power and prosperity is threatened by racial, religious, and national others, inside and outside its borders.” (Source: the Oxford University Press website, an abstract for a chapter of The Flag + The Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy, Philip S. Gorski and Samuel L. Perry https:/doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780197618684.003.0003
Those of us whose faith commitments include a belief that all ‘others’ are as fully children of God as we are have a responsibility and a call to speak, stand, and act against the ideology of white christian nationalism that threatens our faith and our democracy.
On a personal note: Although I don’t think ‘enjoyed’ is quite the right word to describe my feelings on leading the class, I am proud to be part of a congregation that takes issues like white christian nationalism seriously, and I am happy I was a part of the discussion. My thanks to all who participated. My hope and prayer is that we can avoid the ‘paralysis of analysis’ and move from study to action
*Note: I do not capitalize christian nationalism to indicate that I believe its ideology is not truly Christian.