Christian Nationalism & Support for an Authoritarian Leader on Rise in GOP, New Survey Finds

By Bill Berkowitz | 15 February 2023
Daily Kos

(Photo: Andrew Aliferis / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Over the past two years, especially since the January 6 insurrection, Christian nationalism has gone from the fringe to the mainstream. Some Republican Party politicians are proudly proclaiming they are Christian nationalists: During an interview at a Turning Point USA event last August, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. said, “We need to be the party of nationalism. I am a Christian and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists.” A big chunk of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ strategy, as he decides whether to face off against Trump for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination, is to firmly align himself with Christian nationalists.

Greene’s views  appears to have broad-based support within the conservative evangelical Christian community and the Republican Party, according to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institute. Researchers found that Christian nationalism is becoming more prevalent, especially within the Republican Party, with more than half of Republicans believe the country should be a strictly Christian nation, either adhering to the ideals of Christian nationalism (21%) or sympathizing with those views (33%).

Reporting on the PRRI/Brookings survey, NPR’s Ashley Lopez noted that “Christian nationalism is a worldview that claims the U.S. is a Christian nation and that the country’s laws should therefore be rooted in Christian values. This point of view has long been most prominent in white evangelical spaces but lately it’s been getting lip service in Republican ones, too.”

“It’s the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and should be defended as such,” said Kristin Kobes Du Mez, an American historian, author and professor of history and gender studies at Calvin University. “It’s a modern manifestation of this mythical idea that God has a special plan for America — if it responds obediently.”

According to the PRRI website the “survey of more than 6,000 Americans takes a closer look at the underpinnings of Christian nationalism, providing new measures to estimate the proportion of Americans who adhere to and reject Christian nationalist ideology. The survey also examines how Christian nationalist views intersect with white identity, anti-Black sentiment, support of patriarchy, antisemitism, anti-Muslim sentiments, anti-immigrant attitudes, authoritarianism, and support for violence. Additionally, the survey explores the influence Christian nationalism has within our two primary political parties and major religious subgroups and what this reveals about the state of American democracy and the health of our society.”

“Respondents were asked whether they completely agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree, or completely disagree with each of the following statements:

  • The U.S. government should declare America a Christian nation.
  • U.S. laws should be based on Christian values.
  • If the U.S. moves away from our Christian foundations, we will not have a country anymore.
  • Being Christian is an important part of being truly American.
  • God has called Christians to exercise dominion over all areas of American society.

The Guardian’s Maya Yang reported that “The survey also found that Christian nationalism adherents are nearly seven times more likely than non-adherents – 40% vs. 6% – to agree that “true patriots might have to resort to violence to save our country”. Among those that support such political violence, 12% indicated that they have personally threatened to use or actually used a gun, knife or other weapon on someone in the past few years.”

In addition, 38% of Christian nationalist sympathizers support an authoritarian leader “who is willing to break some rules if that’s what it takes to set things right.”

As reported by The Guardian, “Other findings included 71% of Christian nationalism adherents support the so-called ‘replacement theory’ – a racist conspiracy belief that white Americans and Europeans are being deliberately “replaced” by non-white immigrants.

“Nearly one-fourth, or 23%, of Christian nationalism adherents indicated that they believe the stereotype that Jewish people in the United States hold too many positions of power. Meanwhile, 67% of Christian nationalism adherents say that people from some Muslim-majority countries should be banned from entering the US.

“Furthermore, 69% of Christian nationalism adherents agree that ‘in a truly Christian family,’ the husband is the household head while his wife submits to his leadership.”

At a recent gathering of Democratic Party officials in Philadelphia, the Party passed a resolution condemning “white religious nationalism,” declaring that “theocracy is incompatible with democracy and religious freedom.”

“White religious nationalism has used the cover of patriotism to foment and inflame hate by providing cover for racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and islamophobia,” the resolution read in part.

The Growing Threat Of Christian Nationalism In American Politics

Concerns grow over the increasing ties between Christianity and right-wing nationalism

The Dangerous New Movement In Right-Wing America | The Mehdi Hasan Show

Trump ‘threw open the doors’ of Christian nationalism, says investigative reporter

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