The next phase of this campaign
As we enter into the next phase of the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign, BJC has identified four priority areas where we can make the most difference.
By Jaziah Masters
By the time you read this, the Christians Against Christians Nationalism campaign will boast more than 32,000 signers. To put that in perspective, there is not a single arena used by any team in the NBA that can hold every signer of the statement, and we are just getting started!
Since its beginning in 2019, Christians Against Christian Nationalism has been a grassroots movement of Christians from across the ideological spectrum taking a public stance against Christian nationalism. While it is important to say what we are against, it is even more important to say what we are for: at the center of this campaign is a statement of principles, which express our commitment to religious freedom for everyone as well as our commitment to both America’s constitutional democracy and our Christian faith.
Christian nationalism demands that Christianity be privileged by the state, and it implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian. The ideology relies on a mythological telling of the history of the United States that ignores the experiences and contributions of so many ethnic and religious minorities.
Christian nationalism also overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation. While this line in our statement has received the most pushback, it is a point that cannot and should not be ignored. Christian nationalism creates and perpetuates a sense of cultural belonging that is limited to certain people associated with the founding of the United States, namely native-born white Christians. The defense of that warped ideology manifests as violence, often targeting certain houses of worship and racial minorities.
I am so encouraged by those who have joined our work combating Christian nationalism. Speaking to these signers throughout the country and hearing of the good work being done in their local communities has been uplifting, and I am even more excited to see the campaign evolve and our reach expand as we enter into the next phase of this work.
Our next phase
Our campaign is continuing to evolve to meet our present moment as we work to call out and dismantle Christian nationalism in our communities and in ourselves.
Earlier this year, the campaign made its first foray into social media, launching a specific presence on both Instagram and TikTok (follow us on both: @EndChristianNationalism). There is so much disinformation and misinformation peddled on social media, and we needed to respond. Instagram and TikTok also allow us to introduce our work to a younger generation searching for an alternative Christian witness. Our presence there has grown tremendously since launch.
Expanding the campaign also means pursuing new strategies and ways to engage our supporters. While we are incredibly proud of the work we have done so far, there is only so much we can do from our national headquarters in Washington, D.C. The next phase means bringing this work to communities and regions across the country. When looking at where our resources and commitment could make the most difference, we identified North Texas as the best place for a pilot program.
Full disclosure: North Texas was the place I was born and came of age before moving and joining the BJC staff. Bias aside, however, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is an ideal location for this pilot project. The region has a diverse racial and religious composition, which includes a growing immigrant population. BJC also has deep and historic connections in this area with denominational bodies, churches and individuals. BJC is no stranger to convening difficult conversations, and we look forward to this opportunity to meet this challenge.
Christian nationalism is a daunting and complex issue, so much so that it is difficult for many people to wrap their heads around the problem. Realizing this, BJC dedicated time to “cutting the issue” to translate Christian nationalism into four priority areas where we can make the most difference.
1. Countering violence
Example after example proves that the ideology of Christian nationalism fuels violent extremism, especially white nationalist violence. The Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign is committed to combating the violent rhetoric that stems from Christian nationalism and white supremacy. Christian nationalism inspires acts of violence and intimidation — including vandalism, bomb threats, arson, hate crimes and attacks on houses of worship — against communities at home and abroad. Specifically, this campaign is dedicated to understanding how Christian nationalism contributes to radicalization.
2. Protecting public schools
Christian nationalism carries assumptions about nativism, white supremacy, authoritarianism, patriarchy and militarism. That is why it is particularly alarming to see Christian nationalism infect public education. Public schools serve 90% of our nation’s most impressionable population: children. Our nation’s public schools help us learn how to live together as one community, but Christian nationalism in public schools stokes fear and confuses students. We’ve seen a coordinated effort in several state legislatures to draft and pass bills informed by Christian nationalism — such as legislation requiring public schools to prominently display the phrase “In God We Trust.” These seemingly innocuous bills provide footholds to pass even more dangerous legislation that undermines America’s historic commitment to religious pluralism. This campaign is dedicated to ridding our public schools of Christian nationalism and opposing state and federal legislation that injects Christian nationalism into public education.
3. Separating Christianity from Christian nationalism
One of the most frequent requests we receive is to explain the difference between Christianity and Christian nationalism. For many, it is difficult to tell the two apart because Christian nationalism uses the language, symbols and imagery of Christianity in its pursuit of power. Christian nationalism distorts and limits the Christian faith. It drives people away from churches and makes it harder to claim the teachings of Jesus without having partisan assumptions tied in.
It is appalling to witness the Gospel distorted in such a vicious way. Yet we are convinced that we cannot let Christian nationalism go unchallenged as Christians. Christians Against Christian Nationalism is distinctive because we assert our Christian identity. We know that calling out the dangers of Christian nationalism is work we, as Christians, need to do first. This campaign is dedicated to empowering churches and supporters to offer an alternative Christian witness in the public square.
4. Freeing policy debates from theological debates
While Americans can have passionate disagreements about immigration, taxes, gun control, foreign policy and health care, we all should agree that policy debates must be free from Christian nationalism. Every Christian committed to democracy must resist theocracy.
When Christian nationalism is infused into policy debates, it hinders and undermines our democratic process. Not every issue is religious, and not every disagreement is a theological contest. Christians and people of any faith tradition should engage in the public square. But, when we see Christians demand a privileged place in our society through public policies that benefit their religion and not others, they are also treating people of different faiths — as well as those without any religious affiliation — as second-class citizens. Christian nationalism contends that all are not equal under the Constitution. Our goal is to raise awareness about and oppose the use of Christian nationalism in policy debates.
This spring is an exciting time for our ongoing campaign! We are starting the next phase of this work, and we are grateful for the many people who have invested specifically in this. They have made it possible to begin this next chapter. You can help by making a direct donation. Visit the campaign’s website by going to ChristiansAgainstChristianNationailism.org and look for the “give” button on the top of the home page, or use this link.
Coordinating this campaign has been one of my great honors during my tenure at BJC. I can’t wait to see our impact in these four priority areas, our continued growth on social media, and the insights and strategies we gleam from our pilot project in North Texas. And, as always, visit the website to read and share the statement with others as we work to raise awareness and dismantle the ideology.