Confronting White Christian Nationalism
White Christian Nationalism (WCN) is a political movement that cloaks itself in the garb of Christianity and abuses history, identity, and theology for the gain of a few. WCN offers a distorted reading of American history and heretical interpretation of religion that centers the grievances of some white Christians. By its very essence it is a minoritarian movement that rejects pluralism and gains strength as our democracy is weakened. WCN is not a religious movement with an authentic claim on the teachings of the Bible. It preys on poor and low-income people, blaming them for all of society’s ills, using racist beliefs to prevent people from coming together around their common needs. As such, WCN is an organized quest for power that, although designed to appeal to a mass base of people, mainly serves the interests of private business and the wealthy.
Why This Matters
The attempted insurrection on January 6, 2020 awakened many to the rising threat of WCN. But it is important to remember that WCN is not a new phenomenon. It is the intensification of a long-term dynamic of American history. Today, the social forces committed to this nationalism are growing bolder by the day.
For years, the leaders of the WCN movement have worked to define the moral issues of our day in the most narrow and self-serving ways (ie. prayer in school, opposition to same sex marriage and abortion, and gun rights versus housing, healthcare, and jobs for all). These issues have been championed by religious leaders, business leaders, celebrities, state legislators, national figures, and more, who have in turn recruited millions to see them as the defining moral fights of their lives.
Politicians across the country are being elected on the basis of their positions on these “moral” issues, while neglecting the core of the Bible’s message about ending poverty and economic injustice. Once in office, though, they spend the lion’s share of their time 1) blocking legislation that would benefit the poor and the majority of their constituents and 2) advancing policies that protect this country’s racial and social hierarchy and insulate its economic status quo.
- The religious ideas that animate WCN are not just backward or reactionary. They are heretical to the teachings of Jesus. To break the ideological and political influence of WCN, we must engage in a forceful and energetic Battle For the Bible, lifting up its central commitments to end poverty and to establish justice, renewal and peace.
- Even though the forces behind WCN are growing bolder, their agenda is unpopular in the country as a whole, in part due to widespread poverty and economic insecurity in communities across color and ethnic background. Progressive policies that address the needs of poor and low-income communities, across race, can push back against their vengeful politics of division and pull people towards a politics of hope and renewal that centers the poor.
- The WCN movement has been forged over decades, with careful attention to the development of a disciplined, well-coordinated, and deep-pocketed network of leaders. We need to do the same, by building a network of leaders – poor people, clergy, organizers, policy experts, and more – who are committed to a theology and political framework that centers the poor so as to lift the whole of society.
- Our adversaries are good at building community-based networks that meet some of the spiritual and material needs of everyday people, but they are opposed to public policies that these same communities need in the long-term. We are creating space, including within new church communities, for people to work together across race, build relationships, and heal the many divides forced upon them.
Tips for How to Use These Resources in Your Community
- Tune into Freedom Church services every Sunday at 6 PM ET.
- Lead a study series in your community using articles from this resource hub.
- Host a watch party and discussion of the Confronting WCN videos that are included.
- Invite a leader from the Kairos Center to speak at your church or community organization
- Follow the Kairos Center on social media to access our latest content.
- Join the state-based work of the Poor People’s Campaign wherever you live.