Christian Education

Christian White Supremacy Rising: The Fascist Connection

Image by Robert Anasch.

Book bans across the country. Rise of Christian fundamentalism. White supremacy is rampant. These are symptoms of a rising fascist policy in America.

Reactionary political actors seek to reinforce white supremacy by erasing from public discussion any recognition of people of color, LGBTQ identities and their struggles. This happens in particular through the banning of books, which has increased considerably in recent years. In the first eight months of 2022 alone, the American Library Association reports that an “unprecedented” 1,651 books were banned from schools and libraries nationwide – more than double the number in 2021 and a fourfold increase. compared to 2019.

The lion’s share of book bans are in GOP and battleground states, primarily Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. The bans target books focusing on issues related to race and anti-racism, sexism and anti-sexism, and LGBTQ identity and bias.

Looking closer at who is behind these bans, we see that it is reactionary citizen groups such as “Mom’s for Liberty” and “No Left Turn in Education”, who use eliminationist rhetoric to define people of color and straight individuals out of existence and extracting them from the national identity.

Moms for Liberty explains on its webpage that it “empowers parents” and “fights for America’s survival” by “teaching the principles of liberty in our homes and community.” It doesn’t take much of the imagination to discern that this is a recipe for patriarchal white supremacy, with the “survival” of the nation’s identity defined by censorship of people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. , while “empowering” a white heteronormative version of identity.

The fundamentalist-Christian-supremacist dimensions of Moms for Liberty are hard to miss. All of the women leading the organization are white, and their agenda is inspired by efforts to root the nation in Christian theocracy. The national chapter coordinator of the group openly announces that “God has called me and equipped me to do my part in the service of him and our country”.

Moms for Liberty is not alone in its crusade. White Republican officials explicitly call on the United States to embrace Christian nationalism. Republican House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene calls the GOP “the party of Christian nationalism.” Doug Mastriono, Big Lie election propagandist and Republican gubernatorial candidate from Pennsylvania, calls the separation of church and state a ‘myth’, announcing that ‘in November we will take our state back’ from the Democrats lay people and that “my God will do that.” Josh Hawley, Big Lie propagandist, supporter of the January 6 insurrection and Republican representative, announces that “we are a revolutionary nation because we are the heirs of the revolution of the Bible – without the Bible there is no not from America”.

Republican rhetoric channels eliminationism by attacking identities that do not fit the Christian nationalist ideal elevated by the GOP. This is clearest in Hawley’s assertion that “no America” exists outside of a fundamentalist Christian identity.

GOP statements do not occur in a vacuum. They are part of a larger embrace on the Republican right of Christian nationalism and bigotry. For example, a University of Maryland poll from mid-2022 finds support for fundamentalist principles of the Republican Party is pronounced, venturing into authoritarianism. While 57% of Republicans think the US Constitution does not allow “the government to declare the United States a Christian nation,” 61% favor doing so anyway. Differences within the party are pronounced by age, with 71% of Silent Generation and 54% of Baby Boomer Republicans wanting to declare the United States a Christian nation, compared to 49% of Gen X and 51% of Gen Y and Gen Z Republicans respectively. This sentiment threatens to undermine long-standing First Amendment requirements that Congress (and the government more generally) “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” and that individuals have the right of “free exercise.” of whatever religion or denomination they wish independent of government, and Section 7, which states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification for any public office or trust in the United States.”

Christofascism rests on the fusion of white supremacy, authoritarianism, disregard for the rule of law and the rights of religious minorities, and the eliminationist effort to remove non-Christian identities from national consciousness and what it means to be “American”.

It rests on a long-standing fundamentalist foundation. The United States is an exception to other wealthy countries in its commitment to religiosity, measured by the percentage of people who say religion “plays a very important role in their lives.” Millions of Americans have supported a Christian nationalist agenda for years, which is why religious bigots like Greene and Hawley can channel that rhetoric today.

Christian fundamentalism is inscribed in the history and identity of the country. More than half of American adults in 2022 (55%) say they believe the US Constitution is “made by God,” while 36% of Americans and 49% of Republicans in 2020 say the United States “is and always has been a Christian nation. Sixty-four percent of Republicans and 71% of white evangelical Protestants agree that “God has granted the United States a special place in the history of mankind,” compared with half as many independents ( 35%) and less than a third (32%) of Democrats. .

Beyond the broad proclamations, large numbers of Americans are expressing ominous support for political changes that would further elevate Christian nationalism. A 2020 poll found that nearly half of Americans (49%), 89% of white evangelical Protestants, and 67% of Republicans believe the Bible “should influence the laws of the United States.” A few years earlier, in 2015, 57% of Republicans agreed that Christianity “should be established as the national religion of the United States.” In that same poll, 28% of Americans, 41% of Republicans, and 68% of white evangelical Protestants said the Bible “should have more influence over laws than the will of the people.” It is a striking leniency in Christian authoritarianism that seeks to subvert the rule of law in favor of theocratic governance. Substantial minorities of Americans – 42 and 46 percent respectively – also wanted religious leaders to “play a direct role in drafting” a new US Constitution and for the Bible itself to be “a source of legislation.”

Fascist ideology historically exalts patriarchal personalities to lead nations to “greatness,” while imposing misogynistic hierarchies. Christian nationalism is no different. In 2020, 53% of white evangelical Protestants and 60% of Republicans agreed that the United States “punishes men for acting like men,” while 56% of white evangelicals and 63% of Republicans agreed that the country had “become too feminine”. This indulgence in toxic masculinity is linked to Trumpian authoritarianism, with 57% of Republicans and 55% of white evangelical Republicans believing that the United States needs “a leader willing to break some rules if that’s what ‘it takes to fix things’. This trust in Trump has reached cult-level religious belief, with nearly two-thirds of Trump supporters saying while he was in office there was nothing they could think he could do. which would lead them to reconsider their support for his presidency.

Right-wing partisanship and religious fundamentalism are also associated with support for suppressing discussions of how societal institutions are structured to perpetuate racism. An overwhelming 70% of white evangelicals and 79% of Republicans in 2020 believed that “police killings of black men are isolated incidents,” compared to 43% of Americans overall. As documented by leading religious scholar and social scientist Robert Jones, reluctance to recognize patterns of racial profiling and police brutality is rooted in white American Christians’ greater susceptibility to racist beliefs, including support to the celebration of Confederate monuments to white supremacy, the refusal to acknowledge the deleterious effects of generations of slavery on black Americans, sensitivity to negative stereotypes depicting black people as lazy and undeserving of help, and a negativity and general fear of “people of other races”.

The noxious mix of reactionary Christo-fascist beliefs documented here poses an existential threat to the rule of law and secular democracy in America. These reactionary values ​​are nothing new, but their rise in the Trump era, coupled with the bigoted religious commitment of Republicans and QAnon supporters to Trump and the reversal of electoralism as we know it, does not bode well. good for the future of the country. . The United States can affirm its commitment to law, mass consent, secularism, and liberal democratic principles, or it can continue down the path of rising religious theocracy and white supremacist Christofascism. He can’t do both.