In August 2002, almost exactly twenty years ago, I came across an AOL forum where people were discussing Roy Moore rock. Are you old enough to remember? The large marble Ten Commandments monument that disgraced Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has refused to remove it from the rotunda of the Alabama Court Building in defiance of a court order federal government to withdraw it?
On that old AOL forum, people were discussing American history – or rather, there was a dispute over whether or not America was founded as a Christian nation, with one side posting a revisionist history, most of David Barton, the revisionist king of Christian nationalist history, and the other side telling them what they were publishing was a bunch of lies. I jumped into this argument, and having a fairly good knowledge of American history and a talent for research, I quickly published long and detailed refutations of the lies, with footnotes, and, for Long story short, after a bit of prodding by some people on this forum, I started writing my first book, Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternative Version of American History, Vol. 1, which I published in August 2006.
Meanwhile, 2,000 miles away in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a man named Mikey Weinstein, extremely disturbed by the virulent anti-Semitism his sons were experiencing at his alma mater, the United States Air Force Academy , and further discovering that this brand of institutionalized Christian supremacy that existed in the Academy was not confined to the Academy but was present throughout the entire United States military, left a lucrative career as a corporate executive/ lawyer to go fight against this scourge, forming the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) in 2005 to do so.
Shortly after leaving Liars for Jesus in August 2006 I was asked to write on the Talk2Action blog, which I started doing in early 2007, and in May of that year, after being told there was an adaptation of a David Barton’s essay saying the separation of church and state was a lie in the Junior ROTC Basic Curriculum American History Textbook I wrote an article titled The Department of Defense – Bringing the historical revisionism at a high school near you. This piece caught the attention of a Mikey Weinstein and MRFF supporter, who introduced me to Mikey, and I have been working for MRFF ever since.
Also around this time, I found Michelle Goldberg’s excellent book The Coming of the Kingdom: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, published in May 2006. “Christian nationalism! That’s what it was, I thought, immediately regretting using the antiquated term “religious law” in the title of my book. These people wanted a Christian nation. They were Christian nationalists!
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And what the MRFF was fighting was also Christian nationalism, but when we started using that term, it was met with derision not only by our enemies but, to a lesser extent, by some of our supporters. Our detractors, of course, would accuse us of being hyperbolic and inventing this threat we were warning about. They didn’t want a Christian nation. They weren’t trying to turn our country into a theocracy. But even some fans said we were exaggerating. Our country could not be turned into a theocracy. We have a Constitution! We have a separation of church and state!
Well, fast forward fifteen years. “Christian nationalism” is becoming a common phrase, thanks to a recent flurry of mainstream news stories in which the term has been used. It seems that January 6, with its nationalist Christian crosses and banners of Jesus displayed for all to see, was what it took for the media and much of America to wake up and see how this decades-old Christian is truly sinister and alarming. the nationalist movement really is. An excellent article comes from The week, “What does Christian nationalism have to do with January 6? CNN’s July 24 article “‘Imposter Christianity’ Threatens American Democracy” reports on the “burgeoning white Christian nationalist movement” as if it were a new movement just beginning to ” to bud”.
By now, most people have seen Marjorie Taylor Greene’s shameless adoption of the term, proclaiming in a recent interview that the Republican Party should be Christian nationalists.
Is Greene just a deranged outlier in today’s GOP? Well, deranged perhaps, but certainly not an outlier when it comes to Christian nationalism, as this opinion piece on CNN.com notes.
I’m glad to see so much media waking up and calling Christian nationalists what they are, but there’s a part of me that’s very angry and just wants to scream “WE TOLD YOU!”