Resentment 4: American Christian Nationalism

Resentment 4: American Christian Nationalism October 28, 2022

Resentment vs Compassion. PT 3204. Part 4:

American Christian Nationalism (ACN)

Marjorie Taylor Greene, American Christian Nationalism, Georgia’s 14 Congressional District

In this post series on Resentment vs Compassion, we’ve adopted the French term, ressentiment, to analyze ideology through discourse clarification. In this post we turn to distinctively White American Christian nationalism (WACN) today.

The U.S. Democratic National Committee (DNC) passed a resolution condemning white American Christian nationalism on the grounds that “theocracy is incompatible with democracy and religious freedom.” Well, just what is this WACN that the DNC is condemning?

American Christian Nationalism: What is it?

I mentioned in Part 1 that I have never personally met an American Christian nationalist, at least that I know of. Because I don’t know any Christian nationalists to ask about this topic, I must turn to secondary resources. What doth Wikipedia say about Christian nationalism? Christian nationalists support the presence of Christian symbols and statuary in the public square, as well as state patronage for the display of religion, such as school prayer and the exhibition of nativity scenes during Christmastide or the Christian Cross on Good Friday. Thus speaketh Wikipedia.

As I presented with evidence in a previous post, white ‘n’ woke progressive Christians like to paint all evangelical Christians with the American Christian nationalism brush. Yet, as I reported, I browsed through my Patheos confrere bloggers–Roger E. Olson, Chris Gehrz, Melissa Borja, Nathan Rinne, Joao Chaves, Jim Denison, Jackson Wu, Shan Norwood, and others–I could not find a single evangelical who embraces American Christian nationalism. Every one of my evangelical and progressive Christian friends are opposed to American Christian nationalism.

If you want to become a Christian nationalist, don’t go to church. Christian nationalism is not found in the churches. The horns of Christian nationalism are blown at political rallies, not congregational worship. Some progressive anti-Christian nationalists such as Patheos blogger Daniel Henderson even admit this important fact.

I signed the Christians Against Christian Nationalism statement. But, because I don’t have any American Christian nationalist friends to interview, I’ve had to read about those who favor it. Let me share what I have learned.

American Christian Nationalism Today

Jackson Lahmeyer, for example, is an Oklahoma pastor on the speakers’ stump who recently ran for the U.S. Senate. His organization? ReAwaken America. Lahmeyer, along with featured stump speaker Michael Flynn, identifies as a very American Christian nationalist.

The Christian Liberty Party, for another example, wants to point our entire society to Christ. And this pointing “will be instrumental in transforming the political debate with the goal of rebuilding a Christian political conscience and worldview.” They cite American founders John Adams and John Hancock on April 18, 1975: “We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!” Accordingly, the Bible provides the “blueprint” for the political order.

I note one subtle yet possibly important thing here in this discourse clarification, namely, both ReAwaken America and the Christian Liberty Party understand themselves to be political organizations. They are not churches. How many church congregations or denominations refer to themselves as Christian Nationalists? Southern Baptist spokespersons make it clear: “Christian nationalism is not Christianity.” It appears to me that to find Christian nationalists we must turn to the political domain, not the ecclesial domain.

Let’s turn to the political domain. Florida governor Ron DeSantis  relies on Christian nationalist talking points in his public appearances. DeSantis promotes a civics course for educators, which emphasizes that “the nation’s founders did not desire a strict separation of state and church.

There is but one governor, DeSantis, and his wife is his prophet.

Tweeted by his wife, Casey, with the apparent expectation that it would draw notice and go viral, it casts DeSantis not merely as a model and promoter of selected (and selective) religious principles — that’s commonplace for Republican leaders — but as a divine instrument, a holy messenger, fashioned precisely into his current form and set specifically on his present mission by God.

The ears of Christian nationalists in his constituency no doubt find DeSantis’s hints to be melodious and inspiring. One can only ask whether the Florida governor is led by a deep faith in God or by Machiavellian strategy.

The Flamboyant Marjorie Taylor Greene

Marjorie Taylor Greene, American Christian Nationalism

No one can top the living cartoon from Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene, also known as MTG. MTG has been the US Representative from Georgia’s 14th congressional district since 2021. According to the New York Times, “the 48-year-old self-described Christian nationalist possesses a flair for extreme bombast equal to that of her political role model Trump.” As of this writing she has introduced three pieces of legislation to impeach President Joe Biden.

Greene is a gun slinging conspiracy theorist who incarnates the eponymy of the American Christian nationalist politician. MTG has flirted with far-right, white supremacist, and antisemitic conspiracy theories, even , QAnon, and Pizzagate. Before running for Congress, according to Wikipedia, she supported calls to execute prominent Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. While in the US Congress, she has equated the Democratic Party with Nazis and compared COVID-19 safety measures to the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust. During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Greene has promoted Russian propaganda and praised Vladimir Putin. A former Roman Catholic who later converted to Evangelicalism, she has repeatedly expressed anti-Catholic positions.

In May of 2022, MTB began to circle the wagons to protect straight people from attacks by gays and transgenders. Greene claimed that LGBTQ+ authority figures are “grooming” children to identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. This means that straight people will become extinct. “They just want you to think that all of a sudden the entire population is steadily turning gay or turning trans,” Greene said. “Just generation, generation, generation. … Probably in about four or five generations, no one will be straight anymore. Everyone will be either gay or trans or nonconforming or whatever the list of 50 or 60 different options there are.” (Source: Advocate)[1][2]

At the buffet of conspiracy theories, MTB has also snacked on replacement theory. This strong tasting dish has been on the French menu for a decade, known as  Le Grand Remplacement. We sampled Le Grand Remplacement in Part 1 of this Resentment vs Compassion series.  Americanized now, it’s dished out as the Great Replacement Theory or white extinction theory or simply replacement theory. You’ll know when white extinction conspiracy is being served when you hear the rhetoric of invasion: “those foreigners want to immigrate to out country and take over.” What follows is the rhetoric of voter replacement: “those foreigners will soon outnumber us and take over our government.” On occasion anti-Semitic rhetoric is stirred in: “the Jewish elite is responsible for the replacement plot.”

American Christian nationalism?

Do you know what YWNRU means? Perhaps you missed the August 12, 2017 violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Disgruntled marchers chanted phrases such as “white lives matter,” “you will not replace us,” and the Nazi-associated phrase “blood and soil.” The mayor of Charlottesville called it a “cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.”

Here’s what to flag: “You Will Not Replace Us,” or YWNRU for short. Might we perceive ressentiment going on here in this brand of white supremecy? You betcha. Big time.

“Evangelicals, you have a problem. That problem is racism” (Butler 2021, 137).

Anthea Butler’s recent book, White Evangelical Racism, contends that racial prejudice is the chassis on which the equivalent of American Christian nationalism rolls.

“Evangelicalism is not simply a religious group at all. Rather, it is a nationalistic political movement whose purpose is to support the hegemony of white Christian men over and against the flourishing of others” (Butler 2021, 137).

If Butler is correct, we may ask: what’s going on here with this particular form of racism? How is it connected to Christian nationalism?

White racism and white nationalism are clearly driven by anxiety, as YWNRU attests. All of us today are blundering through “the smog of fear, the haze of inchoate anxiety that envelopes America” (Radford, 2022, p. 15), opines Benjamin Radford.

But the anxiety rising up in the consciousness of those who chant “You Will Not Replace Us” is no longer merely inchoate. It is articulated ressentiment.

Anxiety, as we learned from Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr, is the haunting fear rising up from non-being. Whether realistic or delusional, a segment of American population has become anxious over its future. People who chant, “You Will Not Replace Us,” fear being dropped from being into non-being.

How do we defend ourselves from anxiety driven by non-being? If you or I would be a white supremacist, we would slow the speed of immigration to a trickle in order to eliminate a threat. We would keep our guns locked in a closet, ready to use when necessary.  We would return our country to its purported origins, to the safe foundation of Christian values that established it firm, solid, and safe.

The ressentiment component claims that justice is on the side of white supremacy and Christian Nationalism. After all, this is my country. Right?  Try Tennessee Ernie Ford.


  • This is my country
    Land of my birth
    This is my country
    Grandest on Earth
    This is my country
    Land of my choice
    This is my country
    Hear my proud voice.
    I pledge thee my allegiance
    America the bold
    For this is my country
    To have and to hold

“Those who would displace me and replace me are the unjust ones. Right? Alt Right?

So goes the twisted logic of ressentiment. 

Ted’s Observations on Russian and American Christian Nationalism

The comparison between Russia and America is stark. In Russia, political autocrat, Putin, and church bureaucrat, Kirill, have dined together on a feast of totalitarian ideology. In America, where many rivers flow into a single cascade of political whitewater, one religious tributary feeds off anxiety like an algae bloom feeds off nitrogen and phosphorus. Russia advances a war against another nation. America advances a war against itself. In both cases, Christian nationalists pass by the Kingdom of God, electing instead to devour temporal power.[3]

American Christian Nationalism

Let me share a hypothesis regarding American Christian nationalism specifically. What we’re seeing at work here is anxiety on a large scale that is perceived as a threat to white Americans who previously felt safe in an ambient culture guided by Christian symbols and values. American Christian nationalism is an example of ressentiment doing its dirty work.

I draw support for this hypothesis by noting that we have no churches where American Christian nationalism has become creedal or doctrinaire. Rather, American Christian nationalism is an ill-defined potpourri  of defensive values such as God, Guns, and Trump. What some Machiavellians running for high office have discovered is this: there is volcanic  power lurking in the boiling magma. “If only we could detonate a phreatic eruption into a voting block! Then, we could win, [not an exact quote]” surmises the Republican National Committee. Ressentiment has become the lava flow  on which the Republican Party rides into office.

Anthea Butler seems to have insight here. “It is the strangest story: how so many evangelicals lost their interest in decency, and how a religious tradition called by grace became defined by resentment”(Cited by Butler, 2021, 11). So, perhaps Julie Ingersoll and progressives are correct in throwing the Christian nationalist blanket over the entire evangelical population, or at minimum the white evangelical population. American Christian nationalism is not a discreet religion, not an institution, not a church, not a tradition. Rather, American Christian nationalism is a flame burning out of control, ignited by resentment.

Another observation. One might argue that the term, ‘resentment’, better fits American Christian nationalism than does ressentiment. As we saw with the discussion of reparations in Part 2, African Americans re-feel the feelings of their ancestors who suffered the injustice of slavery. In that case, ressentiment applies fully. However, American Christian nationalists don’t re-feel the feelings of others. Rather, they feel only their own anxiety. Resentment? Yes. Ressentiment? Maybe not precisely.

Now, we must ask: can American Christian nationalism rightfully claim justice on its side? I think not. Even though Christian nationalists might believe they perceive an attack against them, this is not realistic. American Christian nationalists have succumbed to a conspiracy theory. They live in a lie. Immigrants to the United States regardless of race or culture have contributed richly to the work force, educational institutions, entertainment , and religious associations. Immigrants are a blessing. There is no objective cause for anxiety on the part of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Furthermore, for the sake of preserving the democracy bequeathed us by America’s founders, we dare not let our government be ruled by unrealistic conspiracy theories such as the white extinction theory. That would be madness.

Ted’s Observations on White ‘n’ Woke Progressive Christians

I have another hypothesis to try out. Just what is going on with my white ‘n’ woke progressive friends? Well, first, we are all disgusted if not terrified by the threat to America’s liberal values posed by the Donald Trump era. Second, we note with alarm how extremist voices such as those of white supremacist’s sing in Trump’s choir. But, the fact is that extremist groups such as Alt Right are few in number and on their own have very little influence. Third, what we call American Christian nationalism is not a church thing. Rather, it’s located only in the rhetoric of Machiavellian politicians. American Christian nationalism, I conclude, is not a movement. It’s a virtual chimera.

Billy Graham & Martin Luther King Jr

The anti-Christian nationalist movement among progressives recognizes that the actual enemy is small. So, we progressives ask ourselves: how could we describe the enemy to look larger, fiercer, and more threatening? We could do this by painting all of American evangelicalism with the Christian nationalist brush. Suddenly, the enemy has grown to goliath proportions. Now, we have a good reason to conscript soldiers into the anti-Christian nationalist army, blow the trumpets, and march into the culture war.

One more thing. The anti-Christian nationalists could not blame African American evangelicals. So, there must be a division. Only white American evangelicals get the label of “Christian nationalism.” That settles it. Now we have a giant enemy worth fighting against.

But, I have a niggle. There’s something not quite right here. What might it be? In his new book, America the Fearful, Benjamin Radford says something that might apply to anti-Christian nationalist activism. “Surprisingly, activists are often their own worst enemy. They perpetuate myths and misinformation that, in the end, harm the very causes they advocate for” (Radford, 2022, p. 145). Might our progressive friends be perpetuating a myth about evangelicals that will turn out to be wrong? What then?

What I fear is that the therapy will be more deadly than the malady. By embarrassing Christianity once again in the public square, our progressive faithful will open the door to greater threats. I could imagine that by over vilifying evangelical Christians, real threats–cultural assassins such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation–will walk through this door. Should a force such as this capitalize on what can be perceived only as an anti-Christian movement writ large, then all Christian voices will get muffled in the public square.

I don’t think we white ‘n’ woke progressives can lynch evangelicals without putting the noose around our own necks.

This post in the Resentment vs Compassion. series is PT 3204. Part 4: American Christian Nationalism (ACN)

What’s Next?

For faithful Christians the summum bonum is love, especially love of God and love of neighbor. “Religious loving is without conditions, qualifications, reservations; it is with all one’s heart and all one’s soul and all one’s mind and all one’s strength,” Bernard Lonergan reminds us (Lonergan, 1972, 242). American Christian nationalism, with its guns and xenophobia, falls short of this love ideal. By a long shot.

Here’s where we have been and where we are going.

Resentment vs Compassion. Part 1: From Resentment to Ressentiment

Resentment vs Compassion Part 2: From Ressentiment to Reparations

Resentment vs Compassion Part 3: Russian Christian Nationalism

Resentment vs Compassion Part 4: American Christian Nationalism

Resentment vs Compassion. Part 5:” Ressentiment in the White ‘n’ Woke Unhappy Consciousness

Resentment vs Compassion. Part 6: Ressentiment with Copmpassion

Resentment vs Compassion Part 7: Christian Nationalism’s Decline Narrative

Resentment vs Compassion Part 8: The Unhappy Consciousness Narrative

Resentment vs Compassion Part 9: To Slay the Christian Nationalist Dragon

Resentment vs Compassion Part 10: Don’t trust your pastor

Resentment vs Compassion Part 11: Christian Nationalism vs Anti-Christian Nationalism

Resentment vs Compassion Part 12:. A More Compassionate America? Trump Tyranny.

Resentment vs Compassion Part 13: Christian Nationalism versus the Vermin Curse

Recall my working hypothesis guiding the series on Resentment and Compassion as well as the upcoming series on Measuring Christian Nationalism:

Progressive Christians Against Christian Nationalism (CACN) are displacing their anger at Donald Trump onto evangelicals by painting evangelicals with the colors of Christian nationalism. That is, CACNers blame white evangelicals for Christian nationalism.

What’s next? In Resentment vs Compassion Part 5, we will diagnose the unhappy consciousness of the white ‘n’ woke progressive or liberal Christian. How does ressentiment and compassion surface there?

Ted Peters

Ted Peters pursues Public Theology at the intersection of science, religion, ethics, and public policy. Peters is an emeritus professor at the Graduate Theological Union, where he co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, on behalf of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, in Berkeley, California, USA. His book, God in Cosmic History, traces the rise of the Axial religions 2500 years ago. He previously authored Playing God? Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom? (Routledge, 2nd ed., 2002) as well as Science, Theology, and Ethics (Ashgate 2003). He is editor of AI and IA: Utopia or Extinction? (ATF 2019). Along with Arvin Gouw and Brian Patrick Green, he co-edited the new book, Religious Transhumanism and Its Critics hot off the press (Roman and Littlefield/Lexington, 2022). Soon he will publish The Voice of Christian Public Theology (ATF 2022). See his website: His fictional spy thriller, Cyrus Twelve, follows the twists and turns of a transhumanist plot.


[1] According to progressive Patheos columnist Jen Butler, “Christian nationalism is a belief system that seeks to define the United States as a native white, and heteronormative Christian nation, upholding privilege for the status quo to the exclusion of all others, and it is one of many toxic founding tenets of our nation that needs to be rooted out.”


[2] Sadly, Marjorie and her husband, Perry, are divorcing. “Marjorie has been my best friend for the last 29 years and she has been an amazing mom!” Perry said. “As we go on different paths we will continue to focus on our 3 incredible kids and their future endeavors and our friendship.” (Source: People).


[3] Elsewhere, I’ve tried to examine America’s long history of exceptionalism, “Covenant, Blood, and Violence: America at War with Others and Itself.


Butler, Anthea, 2021. White Evangelical Racism. Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Ingersoll, Julie, 2015. Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lonergan, Bernard, 1972. Method in Theology. New York: Herder and Herder.

Radford, Benjamin, 2022. America the Fearful. Jefferson NC: McFarland.


About Ted Peters
Ted Peters pursues Public Theology at the intersection of science, religion, ethics, and public policy. Peters is an emeritus professor at the Graduate Theological Union, where he co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, on behalf of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, in Berkeley, California, USA. His book, God in Cosmic History, traces the rise of the Axial religions 2500 years ago. He previously authored Playing God? Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom? (Routledge, 2nd ed., 2002) as well as Science, Theology, and Ethics (Ashgate 2003). He is editor of AI and IA: Utopia or Extinction? (ATF 2019). Along with Arvin Gouw and Brian Patrick Green, he co-edited the new book, Religious Transhumanism and Its Critics hot off the press (Roman and Littlefield/Lexington, 2022). Soon he will publish The Voice of Christian Public Theology (ATF 2022). See his website: His fictional spy thriller, Cyrus Twelve, follows the twists and turns of a transhumanist plot. You can read more about the author here.

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