(WGHP) — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) recently identified herself as a “Christian nationalist,” invoking quick backlash on Twitter.
She made the comment during a Turning Point USA action summit. In response, “She’s a Nazi” began to trend on Twitter, according to News Week.
Greene reiterated her position in a response on Twitter, saying she was being “attacked by the Godless left” for calling herself a Christian nationalist, declaring that she’s proud of that title.
The phrase “Christian nationalism” has become more prominent on the political stage over the past few years, which might leave some people wondering what being a Christian nationalist entails and why people reacted so strongly to Greene’s identification with the movement.
So what is Christian Nationalism?
Christian nationalism is a political ideology that believes that America is an inherently Christian nation, according to an explainer published by Rutgers. Christian nationalists want there to be a close relationship between Christianity and the state, and believe there should be political efforts to “secure a privileged position for Christianity in the public square.”
Christianity Today describes Christian nationalism as “American nationalists who believe their American identity is inextricable from Christianity.”
In the book “Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States,” the authors lay out the ideas that they believe are fundamental to the platform of Christian nationalists, which include declaring the United States a Christian nation, the government explicitly advocating Christian values, not enforcing separation of church and state and the belief that the “success of the United States is a part of God’s plan.”
The separation of church and state
Rep. Lauren Boebert came under fire for speaking at an Aspen church, declaring that she’s “tired of that separation of church and state junk.”
“The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church,” Boebert is quoted as saying.
Cornell University explains that the separation of church and state is how most refer to the “Establishment Clause” of the First Amendment, where the constitution states that the government cannot pass any law “respecting an establishment of religion,” such as declaring a national religion or passing laws that unduly favor one religion over another.
Christian nationalism vs. evangelical Christianity
While Christian nationalists frequently overlap with evangelical Christians, many who identify themselves as evangelicals decry the ideology. In the wake of the January 6 Capitol Riots in 2021, hundreds of evangelical leaders called it “heresy,” blaming Christian nationalism for the attempted insurrection.
“Instead of seeing the United States as God’s chosen nation we thank God for the church around the world that calls people of all races, tongues and nations to the knowledge and love of God,” the evangelical Christian leaders said in their letter. “Instead of seeing any particular political leader or party as divinely appointed, we believe in the prophetic and pastoral ministry of the church to all political leaders and parties. Instead of power through violence, we believe in and seek to imitate the powerful, servant love practiced by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Nationalism vs. patriotism
While Greene portrays Christian nationalism as love for God and country, there is a difference in the philosophies of “nationalism” and “patriotism.”
Dictionary.com defines patriotism as “devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty,” using examples of soldiers defending their country or teachers, police and firefighters serving their community and nation.
It goes on to define nationalism as “the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one’s own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.”
The early 20th-century rise of fascism blended patriotism with notions of superiority, creating an exclusionary and jingoistic philosophy where everyone on the nationalist’s side is a “patriot” and everyone they disagree with is a “traitor.”
Why is Christian nationalism coming up now?
Historically, the beliefs of Christian nationalism featured prominent figures like Gerald B. Winrod and Gerald L. K. Smith, who opponents said promoted authoritarian ideas and antisemitic conspiracy theories as part of their platform. Smith’s “Christian Nationalist Crusade,” an organization that was defunct by the 1970s, is quoted as saying “Christian character is the basis of all real Americanism.”
The New York Times writes that these political ideologies and candidates are gaining in popularity as several states work to pass laws that are considered high priority to the people within this movement, such as laws like Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the increasing scrutiny of transgender people, particularly trans children. Federal decisions like the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and its decisions about school prayer and state funding for religious education are also considered cornerstones of the ideology.
Recent protests against LGBTQ+ Pride events, such as a family-friendly drag brunch that turned heated in Dallas were led by self-described Christian fascists, who led chants of “groomer” and are heard on camera asking cops to shoot attendees. Christian fascism is a far right-wing ideology that extends beyond the tenants of Christian nationalism into demands for an authoritarian Christian state and is often cited as the driving force behind anti-abortion crimes such as the assassination of George Tiller or the bombing of abortion clinics.
“When nationalists go about constructing their nation, they have to define who is, and who is not, part of the nation. But there are always dissidents and minorities who do not or cannot conform to the nationalists’ preferred cultural template. In the absence of moral authority, nationalists can only establish themselves by force,” Christianity Today wrote.