Faith leaders confront dangers of white Christian nationalism

The Georgetown University Center on Faith and Justice hosted three religious experts for a panel discussion examining the implications of the proliferation of white Christian nationalism ahead of the November midterm elections.

The October 26 panel included Rev. Michael B. Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Amanda Tyler (SFS ’00), the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and Samuel Perry, an associate professor in the department of sociology at the University of Oklahoma. The director of the Center on Faith and Justice, Rev. Jim Wallis, led the discussion.

From 2012 to 2021, right-wing extremists, most of whom were white nationalists, committed nearly 75% of the murders classified as domestic terrorism in the US. At the same time, an Oct. 27 Pew Research poll found that more than half of American adults have not heard or read anything about Christian nationalism.

Wallis said the center made an effort to select speakers from different areas of expertise when organizing the event.

“We didn’t know how well white Christian nationalism is understood on campus and in the wider community, so we wanted to include a wide range of voices to help explain what it is and why it’s so dangerous to our democracy,” Wallis wrote. . to DeHoya. “We thought each of the panelists could answer those questions from different perspectives.”

Sophia Lu/De Hoya | Panelists discussed the dangers of white Christian nationalism and its potential impact on the upcoming midterm elections in November at the Lohrfink Auditorium.

Perry said white Christian nationalism encompasses three different dimensions of religious, political and personal identity.

“It’s an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a kind of Christianity that isn’t characterized by giving my life to Jesus or wanting to be a good disciple, but is about white Christian ethnoculture,” Perry said. the event. “It’s also a political strategy, and increasingly a political strategy used by people who don’t have to believe the ideology.”

Reverend Curry emphasized the importance of separating white Christian nationalism from Christianity as a religion.

“It’s important to distinguish an ideology, which you have a right to in America, but I would say you have no right to claim it’s Christian,” Curry said at the event.

Curry spoke about how long this amalgamation of religion and white nationalist ideology has been widespread, when the Ku Klux Klan co-opted Christianity in the early 20th century as a justification for their ideology.

Lauren Freed (NHS ’26) said she attended the event to better understand the context behind the effects of white Christian nationalism she has personally felt as a Jewish American.

“Democracy is very important to me and how I identify as an American,” Freed told The Hoya. “It was very offensive to me to see people wearing shirts like ‘six million wasn’t enough’ and white Christian nationalists at the neo-Nazi demonstration in Charlottesville.”

According to Freed, the speakers helped reconcile the contradictions with those who claim to follow the Christian faith but fail to live up to her understanding of biblical ideals.

“I am very confused by how people can perpetuate anti-Semitic messages while also claiming to follow the messages of the gospel,” Freed said. “It was nice to hear the speakers at the event, especially Reverend Curry as head of the Episcopal Church, denounce hateful rhetoric and detestable actions as not representative of the true essence of the Christian faith.”

Speakers called on community members to work together in dismantling the divisions caused by white Christian nationalism.

“Silence is complicity, so we have a moral obligation to speak out,” Tyler said at the event. “Being political is not the problem, but the problem is when you insist that the government reflect your theological views or think that only people who are religiously like me fully belong in the country.”

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