Berkheimer: Christian nationalism threatens democracy
Are Republicans falling into lock-step with the Christian Nationalism garbage?
I sure hope not — because it’s all based on a myth.
But, apparently support of the Christian nationalist myth has been growing, as I’ve noticed several books discussing the subject — and even took the time to read one of them a couple years ago.
The latest headline-grabbing incident on the subject occurred when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said, “We need to be the party of nationalism, and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly: We should be Christian nationalists.”
The myth, which has gained widespread belief, claims our country was founded as a Christian nation, and that the Founding Fathers were orthodox, evangelical Christians.
That’s far from the truth.
It is true that some were Christian — but many were not.
Instead, they were a collection of atheists, Unitarians, Deists, agnostics, liberal Protestants, plus a few other denominations.
Some of the Deists were among the most prominent of our Founding Fathers. That group included Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Ethan Allen, Thomas Paine and Philip Freneau. Freneau — perhaps the least known of the group — was a newspaper editor sometimes referred to as the Poet of the Revolution.
Although Deists believe in the existence of a supreme being, they reject the idea that the creator intervenes with the actions of humans and the universe. That translates to the thought that praying to a god is a waste of time.
Deists were a prominent part of the Age of Enlightenment, a philosophical movement that dominated Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, with global influences and effects. They emphasized the pursuit of knowledge through reason and evidence — with ideals of liberty, progress, tolerance, constitutional government and separation of church and state.
Christian nationalists, however, claim to be both deeply Christian and patriotic. Both claims are debatable.
True Christians follow a doctrine of inclusion, not one that’s exclusionary. The stories and instructions of Jesus Christ — the basis for Christianity — call for love and respect for all individuals, with none being placed above others.
And, true patriots honor the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment’s separation of religion from government. That amendment guarantees not only the freedom to follow the doctrine of your choice, without interference, but also freedom from religion of any kind.
In addition, it’s apparent a part of the Christian nationalist movement is to provide for prayer in our schools — a most unacceptable plan because of the mental turmoil it causes in our children, who come from a multitude of backgrounds and beliefs.
The Christian nationalist movement should be considered as merely a cover-up for white nationalism — an abomination in a society that honors the U.S. Constitution.
We must act to quash Christian nationalism if we care about our democracy, our constitution, its Bill of Rights and the mental well-being of our children.
Hypocrisy in action
Did you notice the report about Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., who voted against the bill that would establish federal protections for same-sex marriage?
Two days later, he attended his gay son’s wedding. A family spokeswoman reported the Thompsons “are very happy to welcome their new son-in-law into their family.”
A centrist party
Andrew Yang, the New York entrepreneur whose presidential candidacy received a surprise surge in popularity in 2020, has announced the formation of a new centrist third party — the Forward Party.
Yang, who ran as a Democrat, reported the new party was formed with Republicans, Democrats and independents who are greatly disappointed with the most dominant political forces in our country today. He said the new party will begin a national building tour this fall.
High Court reform
Another action was initiated by U.S. House Democrats a few months ago. It would establish 18-year terms for Supreme Court justices, with a process for the president to appoint a new justice every two years.
Titled the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization Act (TERM), it was introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, with the backing of the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-New York. It was being introduced in the Senate by Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI.
I have been promoting that proposal since I first read about it in the June, 2020, report by the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship. The commission was appointed three years earlier by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The commission’s report, dubbed Our Common Purpose, details a series of reforms needed to strengthen our American democracy.
Darrell Berkheimer is a retired journalist who reported and edited at newspapers across the West, as well as the editor or nine books available through Amazon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.