In the Aug. 25 issue, Paul Schrag defines Christian nationalism as the way some Christians support Donald Trump, link faith with secular power and use Christianity to give “cover to white supremacy and acts of violence.” David C. Cramer defines it as supporting “the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq” and “the presidency of Donald Trump.” Cramer says, “Christian nationalism has come to dominate the Republican Party at nearly all levels of government.” Preston Yoder says Christian nationalism is identified as support for the Iraq War and the George W. Bush presidency. He asks: “Why did I help elect the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, who led our country into a war that would kill tens of thousands of people?”
What unified the articles was an emphasis on Christian nationalism as being support for state violence carried out by Republicans or political conservatives. No mention was made of the role President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have in pursuing the war in Ukraine. Billions of dollars are being spent to prolong the war. Leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties support the war. Why is the magazine not focused on the damage that nationalism of both parties is doing to Ukraine and its people? AW appears to have covered this issue in a politicized, unrealistic and hypocritical way.
Richard J. Penner, Burbank, Calif.
Many thanks for the Aug. 25 issue on Christian nationalism. This is a serious temptation for our people. Years ago, my wife and I hosted a young man from Cambodia who was in the United States with a Mennonite Central Committee program. He often brought up the question of whether the United States was a Christian nation. I tried to tell him that the U.S. Constitution required freedom of religion. But he was not much impressed with this fact. He was looking at the political leadership and wealth of Christians in the United States and thinking that if they were not satisfied that the nation reflected their values and aspirations, they could change things. He went back to Cambodia still thinking of the United States as a Christian nation.
Marion Deckert, North Newton, Kan.
“Why Christian nationalism makes American Christians less Christlike” (published on the AW website) speaks to how Christian nationalism appeals to some and repels others. Andrew Whitehead writes about fear and xenophobia, but psychologists Jer Clifton and Nick Kerry have identified a different primal instinct: Hard distinctions are made; differences are accentuated. Everything is put in hierarchies. Sounds familiar! Did Jesus advocate the strict teachings of the Pharisees? Progressive Christians hold onto categories more lightly. The Apostle Paul had similar thoughts.
Karl Dick, Waterloo, Ont.
I want to belong to the Christian nation (the kingdom of God), whose superhero Prince (Jesus Christ) gave us our Declaration of Dependence in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 and Romans 8 and 12. I want to be part of MCGA (Make Christians God’s Again). I want to keep learning how to live here, preparing for when I move on to God’s forever kingdom.
Albert Steiner, Evanston, Ill.
Thank you for the articles on resisting Christian nationalism. They should be required reading for American Anabaptists.
Barbara Keener Reed, Lititz, Pa.
Kudos for the coverage of Christian nationalism, the greatest polarizing movement in the contemporary Christian church, including Anabaptists. When I was a teenager in the ’60s, because of the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement and the draft, we were deeply immersed in discussions on nonviolence. Today other questions churn in my soul. When are we going to discuss the use of guns in Anabaptist homes? Why do we think we need them? Do we still claim we would not use them on another human being? I know of Mennonites who would shoot an intruder. Are we losing our resolve for peace?
Marvin Zehr, Carthage, N.Y.
I was raised Catholic and taught that all who are not Catholic are going to hell. It made for peculiar discussions with my Protestant friends. It also was a reason I did not retain my religious origin. In reflection, that point of view was an immense red flag: the need for power through fear and a self-image based on (male) ego rather than Christian faith. Such irony. The articles on Christian nationalism brought back, to me, the irony of faith-based politics. I’m a Republican, and I continue to be confronted by the siren song of a simple litmus test to discern competent leaders. The danger of blind faith coupled with unrepentant, ignorant victimhood is not Christian. It’s also not Democrat or Republican. It is the irony that underscores our current plight.
Tom Szambecki, Newton, Kan.