On Christian Nationalism
November 8, 2022

Fun fact: I was what could now be described as a Christian
nationalist in my younger years.

I thought (my romanticized version of) America was God's country
and American culture was godly culture, and Satan was out to
destroy it through Democrats and "politically correct" (PC)
ideology. I was thoroughly indoctrinated by Trinity Broadcasting
Network (TBN) and Christian radio stations and regularly donated to
Christian Coalition, American Centers for Law and Justice, and
other similar entities. I believed that America's God-given destiny
was to conquer the nations and make them submit to the Gospel.

I attended three worship services every Sunday at a typical
megachurch because I equated "big" and "rich" with God's approval.
Every megachurch had flags of many countries on its stage,
pretending to be how international it was. But the endgame was to
make them American (but not necessarily immigrating to the United
States, but rather using them to "spread the Gospel" and to
"transform their own cultures for Christ").

Back then I could not imagine how a Christian could vote Democrat
and still be saved. Those mainline denominations were spiritually
"dead," no longer teaching the Bible, and thus "unsaved" to us.

After a few years, however, I began sensing that so much of this
"Christian (sub)culture" had little to do with the Bible. Most of
it was a modern creation peddled by Christian media, publishers,
businesses, and political groups. It was very white, suburban,
middle-class, and capitalist. This "faith" upheld a romanticized
picture of America, the Republican Party, and the prosperity gospel
that appeals to the middle class but looks down on the poor and
weak. But it was very attractive to me when I did not know this and
did not exercise critical thinking. The lure of megachurch
evangelicalism was that it makes you feel like you are part of a
"winning team," part of "God's army." It was decidedly a muscular
Christianity that goes to battles, whether be "spiritual warfare"
of fervent prayers or in the political realm. Some were already
teaching a form of theology later known as Dominionism, to
influence the "seven mountains" by any means necessary. By
contrast, I felt that "traditional" Christianity represented by
historical denominations was "weak" -- my impressions of it were
those of soft-spoken, elderly (or, female, or *gasp* gay!) pastors
reading poetry and feel-good stories from the pulpit for 10
minutes, not transformational hard preaching rooted in scriptures.

The ultimate turning point for me was, ironically, after I decided
to attend a bible college and took a Hebrew class. My curiosity
took me to dig deeper into the Torah and traditional Jewish
interpretations of it. One such writing, Mishnah was written around
the time of Jesus (Second Temple period) and represents the
cultural and theological contexts from which the New Testament
emerged. I highly recommend everyone read this. It is eye-opening.
So much of what I was taught as "biblical" truth were creations of
white American culture and its interpretations of the Bible through
their lenses. As I studied more in college, I learned church
history, the history of religion in the United States, and
sociology, further weakening my faith in American Evangelicalism --
all while attending a decidedly Evangelical college.

Christian nationalism may be a new buzzword for many, but it
existed in various forms since the 1970s under names such as
religious right and faith-based conservatism. To put it rather
crudely, Christian nationalism is a golden calf, just like the
Israelites created one as an ersatz substitute for the promised
land to satisfy their grievances and their desires for instant