The Heresy of Christian Nationalism

God doesn’t bless America.

That’s not how this works.

I’m sorry to break it to you, Bible Belt Christians—but that’s just how it is.

I know this kinda wrecks the convenient narrative you’ve been working for the past 60 or so years (and hitting especially hard the past eighteen months), but honestly that nasty bit of heresy has done enough damage already and it needs to go. It’s straight-up of the devil.

I’m not sure where you’re getting your taglines and hat slogans from, but I know it isn’t from the Bible. I know it isn’t from your coveted and regularly trotted out John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God loved the world.
God is in the world-loving business—not the America-blessing business.

You remember the world, don’t you; that massive, spinning sphere of 7.6 billion disparate human beings: brown people, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, Atheists, shithole countries—and lots and lots of non-English speaking, non-Americans?

Check out the Old and New Testaments again.
Read through the Gospels a few times.
Use any translation you’d like:
No America First.
No Making America Great Again (or at all.)
No flags or national anthems to pledge allegiance to.

A few other bits of news from the Scriptures:
Jesus was born in the Middle East.
He didn’t speak English.
He wasn’t white.
He wasn’t Evangelical.

He wasn’t a Republican.
He wasn’t American.
Heck, he wasn’t even Christian.

Jesus was a Rabbi who spent his days as an itinerant street preacher, living off the generosity of strangers and speaking in parables about a new “Kingdom of God:'” a radical way of living where the poor were cared for, the oppressed freed, and the outcasts welcomed in. 

Jesus came to usher in a countercultural kind of interdependent community, in direct opposition to the power-wielding Roman Empire he stepped into. It was a diverse, barrier-breaking, border-transcending, nation-defying movement of generosity and mutual affection. It had nothing to do with blessing a Government or building an army—or creating a gated community of white folks in North America two thousand years in the future.

To claim that America was at all the point of the Gospels is flat-out heresy.
To assume any God-ordained supremacy based on religion, nation of origin, pigmentation, orientation, or native tongue—is a perversion of the work of Jesus and idolatry of the worst kind. 

I’m sorry to break all this bad news to you. I understand the actual words of the Gospel are problematic, given the story you’re selling to those whose fear you’re leveraging in America right now.

It’s impossible to be devoted to the Jesus of the Scriptures, while refusing refugees, expelling immigrants, demonizing Muslims, vilifying people of color, worshiping political power, and neglecting the poor—which is exactly the point.

As long as you continue to conflate God and America, you’re going to be whitewashing the Good News, shrinking God into your own image, and bastardizing the message of Jesus in ways that can only be described as fully and violently heretical.

If your God is America—you need a bigger God.

 

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.

 

270 thoughts on “The Heresy of Christian Nationalism

  1. It’s not wrong to ask God to guide us. What IS wrong is to believe that America and her people are more favored than any of God’s other creations. God loves us all. He doesn’t love whites or Christians or America more. We need to stop thinking and acting superior. We need to stop trying to rule the world and become citizens of the world. We need to learn to love as God loves — universally. Please don’t reduce God to our level. He is so much more.

    • Well, let’s see. Rick Wiles said recently that all non-Christians are “Children of Satan.” There has always been, historically, a “white church” and a “black church” even though Jesus never said anything about segregating by a failed theory from the 1700’s about human beings. LGBTQ youth are more likely to be homeless due to “shunning” than any other population of kids.
      How’s that “prayer” working? Trump is guilty of multiple venal sins, but somehow God chose him to carry the message of Jesus? St. Augustine, he ain’t.

    • Sorry, but for far too many people, God bless America has become far more than a “prayer” but it has become a statement – that God has BLESSED America beyond any other nation, beyond any other people making US the “chosen” people of God – instead of His own chosen, those of Jerusalem. So NO his premise is NOT flawed… in fact, it is very much on point.

  2. Two things: 1. Jesus is an imaginary figure. If the imaginers want him to be a white, baptist, racist republican then that’s what he is
    2. It is possible for god-fearing jesus loving men to form militias who go to the border to repel and maybe kill the miserable people fleeing from who knows what in the southern hemisphere.
    Appreciate effort though.

  3. Much of what the article espouses has merit. At least the basic premise that Christianity is not about the United States of America. I do disagree with what seems to be an implication that if I do not accept as moral what I consider to be immoral as moral then I am intolerant. I think I can disagree with and speak against an action and still respect and love the one with whom I disagree. I cannot nor do I think I should force them to accept my point of view, but I can still share my beliefs. They in turn should not think they can force me to accept their point of view.

    Some of the comments concern me. I read some form Christians who have missed the point of the article and have become combative and defensive. by doing so you are simply confirming what the author thinks. Some of the replies to Christians are judgmental if not hateful and are acting in a way that is the antithesis of the tolerance you claim to have.

    I digress, so let’s go back to the premise that America is not God’s country.

    Even understanding that our fore-fathers founded our nation upon Christian morality and many (not all) spoke or wrote that our nation could thrive only if her citizens were moral and spent time reflecting on Biblical teachings; Even the fact that our earliest universities were originally schools to train not only teachers, doctors, and lawyers, but also to train men to be ministers and clergy; Even in realizing that our earliest textbooks in elementary schools were filled with Bible passages and Bible based moral instruction; Even so, The United States of America is not a Christian (only) Nation and God did not, to our specific knowledge, lead the events of time to establish this nation (although some early US patriots used the Bible to suggest to colonists that God was on our side and to rebel against England and the King was our Christians obligation).

    Christianity needs to disentangle itself from party politics. We need to recall that the church is universal, a Kingdom without borders that is not of this world. We need to remember that our citizenship is first in heaven and we are exiles in the physical nation in which we reside – we are aliens, legal aliens, but aliens.

    As Christians, we need to step up where Government’s hands may be tied. It is time we put our efforts and money where our voices have been loudest.

    Do you oppose abortion? Then become a foster or adoptive parent or support those programs and families who provide social care.

    Do you oppose certain relationships that our nation considers marriage? Then stay married to your first spouse and teach your children to be faithful to their husband or wife. If you have had multiple husbands or wives and you divorce was not for your spouse’s infidelity, you might want to drop your stone.

    Do caravans of refugees concern you? Find a way to get them the help they claim to be looking for. Become a part of the solution and not just a radical voice.

    For the record. I am a Southern, Conservative, Caucasian, Christian male who is a minister in a conservative Christian congregation. We are a group who helps feed those in our community, who sends aid to areas in need (around the world and within our country), we individually and collectively support a group who provides educational opportunities to mothers-to-be and provides support to them for keeping or adopting out their babies. We have members who have fostered special needs children for decades. Prayers are offered for those we help and those we cannot personally help.

    • Thank you to Scott! He is much more representative of the evangelicals I know than those espoused by Mr. Pavlovitz. Yes, the others exist, but many others are doing the good work of the kingdom, dirty hands with acts of service and no sense of calling attention to oneself. Would you like to come be part of the refugee outreach at our small evangelical congregation, the tutoring ministry to junior high and high school students, the many long-term mission outreaches supported regularly around the globe, the home our congregation started to assist single moms that is now participated in by churches citywide? As he tends to do, Mr. Pavlovitz says enough good things that you want to agree with him but he says them with such broad brushes, condemnation, and condescension that he makes it difficult to align with him.

    • I find common ground in what you’ve written–it begins from with-in, yes? All of what you’ve said about living our beliefs is the most challenging of any faith. As a Lucy left of liberal one my biggest criticism of Christianity is the double standard that’s just as prevalent in non-Christian life. I find your words & testimony lift me up to believe there’s hope for our people as a community. My only point of disagreement is about our founding fathers & their intentions–some of them didn’t profess Christianity anymore than society required at the time & the slave trade was instrumental in the founding of our country. Again thank you for sharing your words of faith.

    • I second that! And as the scriptures say ” Righteouness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach upon it. ” So we’re talking any nation! And yeah I know the concepts of righteousness and sin mean different things to people.

    • Many of the founding fathers were “Theists” which was the 18th century way of saying agnostic without pissing off the Church. Jefferson rewrote the New Testament(pasting it up with something like a penknife) and ended the story of Jesus of Nazareth(“The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth”) by omitting the Resurrection. Thomas Paine called the Bible stories “fables.” Ben Franklin, Quaker, openly doubted that God had spoken directly or ever directed any human.

      They were educated in the Age of Reason, and may have nominally been Christians but were as far from modern-day Dominionist Christian ideology as imaginable.

    • So you’re good with the #NewMoralMajority then? The #NewTotalitarians & #NeoTotalitarians all serving & worshiping #IdolsForDestruction?

      Or humanists, technocrats, or whatever power group draws in #SafetyInNumbers?

      Judeo-Christian Pilgrims were mislead to a ‘land flowing with milk and honey’ then? They wrongly followed the Gospel mandate to spread the WORD?

    • What a marvelous post, Scott. I appreciate your sharing of insight, caring, and intelligence here. I believe your message has an appeal for people of any political orientation or religion.

  4. I agree 100%. Even if I may disagree with our government leaders at times, as a Christian, I try to refrain from criticizing and remember what Jesus taught us about judging others.

  5. Of COURSE Christ wasn’t a Christian. There was no such thing. The Way (read Acts) didn’t begin to call themselves that until long after Jesus left. I do not know this at all but it would not surprise me if the name was actually used pejoratively by those who persecuted them. I’m truly happy that you have read the bible. Now, think about what you’ve read. For a long time.

  6. the story is told that in the old communist days in Russia, a propaganda officer wandered into an empty church and found an old woman praying. Baffled, he interrupted her.
    “Grandmother, what are you doing?”
    “I’m praying “, she replied.
    “Praying? to whom? Don’t you know our glorious astronauts have been to space, and saw no sign of God?”
    “God does not live in space.” she replied.
    So the officer tried another tactic. ‘Was your grandmother a praying woman?” he asked.
    “yes she was.”
    “and what did SHE pray for?”
    “The Csar’s.”
    The officer sensed triumph. “Ah-ha! See what good her prayers did for the Csars!”
    “exactly.”

  7. All of the Abrahamic religions are inherently evil because when you boil them down to the basics, they exclude everyone not in their particular sect from whatever version of heaven or paradise that they aspire to and Christianity is particularly evil in that the return of their messiah is predicated on the death by torture of billions of people.

  8. Why can’t you all grow up and take responsibility for yourselves? This current Christian myth is as played out as Thor, Zeus, Mithradates, Amon Ra, Beelzebub, Ironman, and the rest of the Marvel universe pretenders. There is no god thing watching over you and keeping book on you. The whole concept is egocentric beyond belief. Humans created all their gods, and we no longer need them, if we ever did. Just . . . grow . . . up.

  9. I would love to agree with you, but my theory of all texts, including all scriptures, tends to favor descriptivism over prescriptivism. Prescriptivism is a moral theory; it says that use ought to be governed by meaning. Descriptivism is a scientific theory; it says that meaning is in fact governed by use. According to prescriptivism, scripture is a message, saying something specific. According to descriptivism, scripture is a language, saying what you want it to say.

    By your reading of the New Testament, no Christians should be nationalists; but history reveals that many Christians have, in fact, been nationalists.

    So by re-reading the text, they have re-written it, in ways justifying their agenda. Such tragicomedies recur all the time. Fortunately, you yourself are just as free to re-read those texts in ways favoring _your_ agenda. That’s fair.

  10. Thanks Jeff , but the american nation is not ready to grow up, they can’t abandon “they’re”version of “sky daddy” that’s why they corporatized Christmas,(an imaginary “guy in the sky” that WILL come every year so you can “keep the faith”(social construct) and he’ll bring good tidings of Joy and presents!!!! It’s imprinted in their psychology since birth socially for a reason, they literally would have to fight against their entire society (which is going on now…..an awakening) to grow up and I’m not sure if they are going to be able to wake up in time. The human experiment will probably be over soon because of the the religion’s(invested interests) man has created, essentially creating his own destruction a literal “hell on earth” that he has made for himself …lol no boogeyman. I have hope tho, that youth will be intelligent enough to figure it out, stand up and think for themselves despite the religion(invested interests) their parents have. I am not atheist but I don’t amen with you that’s for sure, if there is a “God”(Creative designer)perhaps it can reveal itself through people and their actions again, as they go through the childlike phase of unbelief …very painful,as the truth is.

  11. You’re just one of those preaching for itching ears of which the Bible especially warns us!
    Maybe you’re saved, but I personally doubt that.
    You’re not led by the Holy Spirit.

    If still possible – my friend,
    do repent and you’ll find the right way.
    Yeshua Is LORD [יהוה]

  12. I appreciate your speaking out against what we’re seeing from right-wing Christians today. Your words give me solace when I think about the stance many of my family members have taken concerning Trump politics while professing to be Christian.

  13. It’s an unfortunate accident of history that the colonization of America by the English coincided with early general literacy, mostly focused on the Bible. Many colonists all too readily identified themselves as the new “chosen people” in a “promised land”, smiting the heathen and establishing dominion in the manner of the Old Testament, always more popular than the New here.

  14. To those of you who say that Jesus never existed, I say there are abundant references to him by a variety of secular historians of that period. To those who describe thw world of his day as “a radical way of living where the poor were cared for, the oppressed freed, and the outcasts welcomed in.” From BC 25 to BC 13 taxes were doubled every year. That doesn’t sound like oppressed being freed. And the US is the most generous nation on earth – even helping our enemies in time of need. We were the first in Iran when they suffered and earthquake a few years ago. As far ass us evil evangelicals, we were the first to establish universities, the first to establish countries and Red Cross was established by an evanglical Christian.

  15. I wasn’t about to read ridiculous arguments of the simple and obtuse especially after some question the very existence of Jesus. He is as real as your mother. However the arguments made by the author of this garbage are then found mute by himself. The hypocrisy of the first paragraph or so are cancelled by his last paragraph or so. And to answer the question why is it wrong to think Americans are preferred by God? God expects you know that His love for us, us being the world, is so great it is beyond measure. It is beyond our comprehension . And that was His plan. He doesn’t want you to try to measure this so you can’t use His love as a measure of right and wrong. Simply because while He takes joy in the effort of a imperfect peoples striving to be the good servant His love for the sinner is the same as for the forgiven. And this also confirmed by the penalty for sin. Its the same . Its designed so we don’t attempt to be more righteous by comparison of sin. There is no way you should ever feel righteous. Ever. Not alone anyway but through Christ. And through Christ no matter the sin we all achieve to fall under His umbrella of righteousness that seek to. Christ was the one rabbi who didn’t subscribe to be revered by how many so called good people he hung out with. Now back to this dumbass article. A relationship with God is individual and not grouped by anything ever. We don’t get saved as a nation we get saved individually. And even though God identified Hebrews as His people even they can only acquire salvation individually. Otherwise I’d be afraid of all of you holding me back. How is it we can be so ignorant to even read this hog wash let alone comment on it? At least you were intelligent enough to read my opinion. So there’s hope.

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