We no longer have to speculate. And what many of us have suspected is true.
We’ve wondered why Jesus — who offered expansive grace, a counter-cultural life and incisive teachings as part of revealing God and modeling how his followers are to live — seems to have so little to do with American Christianity.
Or, really, why so many American Christians seem to have so little to do with Jesus.
We’ve marveled at how quickly those who claim the name of Christ will pivot from him in order to articulate a political/religious ideology that lacks grace, compassion and justice — and is more intent on gaining or retaining power at the expense of others.
But now we know.
Recent research reveals how many Americans will toss aside long-held (or long-stated) values in political pursuit of the preservation of a Christian nationalist ideology that trumps all other factors. More than anything else, these Christian nationalists fear the loss of cultural dominance by white Christians who expect favoritism from their government.
Most troubling, but abundantly clear, is the revelation that so many self-identified American evangelicals hold a higher allegiance to this nationalistic ideology than to the Way of Christ. This revealed priority explains their once-baffling political pursuits that fly in the face of the values of honesty, compassion and equality that are reflected so clearly in the life and teachings of Jesus.
As a result, “truth” is now equated with whatever calms one’s fears and advances this political agenda regardless of fact or the exposed hypocrisy. And there appears to be no concern with whether any of these ideas and actions aligns with the life and teachings of the one once professed as savior and lord.
Christian nationalism advances an Americanized civil religion that defends a pale-toned patriotism and disregards religious freedom in its purest form in exchange for a perverted concept allowing for religious-fueled discrimination by those with the most power. It drives antagonism toward and exclusion of religious and racial minorities who are deemed threats to good, ol’ “Christian” America.
But, at least, we know now. And it is tragic.
We no longer have to wonder why fear seems to drive so many who claim to follow the incarnation of God who repeatedly urged, “Fear not!” Now we know.
While much damage is being done, this fear-based effort to demonize those not in the favored majority will, at most, simply slow the cultural change at hand.
A great casualty, however, is the astonishing absence of Jesus from much of the public Christian witness in America today.
These conclusions are not speculation but the self-revelation of American evangelicals in scientific polling. Resulting statistics can be found here and at other links such as these: link, link, link.