Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 0

Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 0 April 17, 2024

Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 0 Introduction

Measuring Christian Nationalism

It is the turmoil of Trumpolitics that keeps our psyches in unremitting and unforgiving upheaval. While being blown about by hurricane forces, I’d like to try measuring American Christian Nationalism (CAN).  By what metric?

The Metric for Measuring Christian Nationalism

Summarizing from the study by Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry, Pamela Cooper-White provides us with a list of six traits that identify a White American Christian Nationalist (Cooper-White, 2021, pp. 13-14) (Whitehead & Perry, 2022, p. 71). I will add two: gender and race. With these eight criteria, let’s take a moment to compare some primary sources belonging to Christian nationalists themselves along with secondary sources. Here is the metric for measuring Christian nationalism.

  1. Measuring Christian Nationalism on January 6, 2021

    America as a Christian Nation

  2. Christian Values
  3. Separation of Church and State
  4. Public Display of Religious Symbols
  5. America is God’s Plan
  6. Prayer in Schools
  7. Gender
  8. Race

Ressentiment and Compassion: My Hypothesis

Recall my working hypothesis in the Patheos series on Ressentiment and Compassion: 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. This is convoluted because it is actually the MAGA-Moscow wing of the Republian Party that should be the CACN target. Therefore, this is a shoe that does not quite fit. A fifth to a fourth of evangelical congregants are not Trump supporters. And evangelical leaders largely denounce ACN. How might we understand all this?

Just what size shoe fits? Sociologists Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry take a more precise measure of our footing. American Christian Nationalism (ACN) and even White American Christian Nationalism (WACN) should be distinguished from evangelical Christianity (EV). “Christian nationalism should not be thought of as synonymous with evangelicalism or even white evangelicalism” (Whitehead & Perry, 2022, p. 20). I believe this to be accurate. I hope to demonstrate this by measuring Christian nationalism.

What is happening? I hypothesize that we progressives both religious and secular are anxious. We are worried that another Trump presidency could spell the end of democracy and the beginning of tyranny.  To relieve our anxiety through self-righteousness — feeling righteous emboldens our self-confidence –, we construct a displacement equation:

white biblicist = white supremacist

For an evangelical to be a white biblicist is automatically to be a white supremacist. This little equation gives comfort to an anxious progressive heart.

We progressives like to define WACN in the most demonic fashion and apply the traits of WACN to millions of evangelicals and millions more in the MAGA-Moscow wing of the Republican Party. It makes us feel good to think of ourselves as David fighting Goliath. Yet, I fear, our fear may distort the situation. Out of fear, we may be scapegoating evangelical leaders who could partner with progressives in the struggle against Christian nationalism as well as against the prospect of political tyranny.

Our Evangelical Heroes

Measuring Christian Nationalism

I believe it is important to keep in mind that many evangelicals – especially leading evangelical theologians – renounce ACN and WACN as heterodoxy, even idolatry. Progressive Christians who are prejudiced against evangelicals should learn from this.

ACN alone does not pose an existential threat to American democracy. But Donald Trump does.

The actual threat to both democracy and religion is the Republican presidential campaign led by former US president Donald Trump. When Christians fight among themselves, this opens a vacuum artfully filled by Trump’s manipulative rhetoric. I wish that we Christians could escape the spider web of Trump’s rhetoric and independently engage in effective political influence. I hope that measuring Christian nationalism will contribute to a healthy modification of Christian public theology in America.

Witnesses for Measuring Christian Nationalism

Measuring Christian Nationalism. For this book click here.

Rarely, I have noticed, do my progressive friends footnote primary sources produced by actual Christian nationalists. And there does exist a history of Black Christian Nationalism in America, but it gets entirely ignored by white Christian progressives. Instead, it seems that what everyone knows about Christian nationalism comes from those who are anti-Christian nationalism. So, I’d like to correct that here when measuring Christian nationalism.

Here is the list of our witnesses for measuring Christian nationalism.

ACN. American Christian Nationalism.  For a primary source representing white American Christian Nationalism, I will select Stephen Wolfe who writes a theological manifesto of sorts, The Case for Christian Nationalism. Wolfe relies on the Calvinist tradition to make his case.

“American Christian nationalism is not a contradiction in terms but rather an appropriate label for those who identify with the old American Republic” (Wolfe, 2023, pp. 37-38). What is the purpose of Christian nationalism? Not to defend an ideology. Rather the purpose is “the earthly and heavenly good of the people of God” (Wolfe, 2023, p. 468).

Voices for ACN seem to come not primarily from churches but rather from politics [especially US Rep. (R-GA) Marjorie Taylor Greene] and from the media. Try former Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson interviewing Pastor Doug Wilson to get a taste of ACN. “The state is not God.” Therefore, the ACNer needs to keep worship of God above the state in place. Which God? Not the God mentioned on our money. Rather, the true God. The living God. Well, that is what an ACNer says regarding what is believed.

WACN. White American Christian Nationalism. In her introduction to the report, Christian Nationalism and the January 6, 2021 Insurrection, co-produced by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Amanda Tylor makes ACN and WACN virtually indistinguishable. The term, “’White Christian nationalism’ explicitly acknowledg[es] the overlap of Christian nationalism with racism and white supremacy.” Other than members of the Ku Klux Klan, I have not yet met a person who declares that he, she, or they are a WACN. Amanda Tyler may have met these people, but I have yet to.

Albert Cleage, Black Christian Nationalism (Getty Images)

BCN. Black Christian Nationalism. I will select Black Christian Nationalist Shelly McIntosh, who is actually remembering Albert B. Cleage. Cleage was a Detroit pastor during the Black Power phase of the Civil Rights Movement. Here is the Black Nationalist Creed.

“I believe that human society stands under the judgment of one God revealed to all and known by many names. His creative power is visible in the mysteries of the universe, in the revolutionary Holy Spirit which will not long permit men to endure injustice nor to wear the shackles of bondage, in the rage of the powerless when they struggle to be free and, in the violence, and conflict which even now threaten to level the hills and the mountains.

I believe that Jesus, the Black Messiah, was a revolutionary leader sent by God to rebuild the Black Nation Israel and to liberate Black people from powerlessness, and from the oppression, brutality and exploitation of the white gentile world.

I believe that the revolutionary Spirit of God embodied in the Black Messiah is born anew in each generation and that Black Christian Nationalists constitute the living remnant of God’s chosen people in this day and are charged by him with responsibility for the liberation of Black people. I believe that both my survival and my salvation depend upon my willingness to reject individualism and so I commit my life to the liberation struggle of Black people and accept the values, ethics, morals and program of the Black Nation defined by that struggle and taught by the Black Christian Nationalist Movement” (McIntosh, 2021, pp. 26-27)

Roger E Olson, systematic theologian

EV. Evangelical. My favorite Evangelical systematic theologian is Roger E. Olson, a Patheos columnist. Olson is convinced that WACN is idolatrous and says so. “Contemporary white Christian Nationalism has gone off the rails and mixed a kind of fascist ideology of Americanism, a religion, with Christianity in an idolatrous way.”

CACN. Christians Against Christian Nationalism. Amanda Tyler, Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Freedom, is the go-to person for Christians Against Christian Nationalism (CACN). So also is Sojourners editor emeritus Jim Wallis. Lutheran Pamela Cooper-White belongs in the progressive camp with other CACNers. But there are many in CANC, the largest of the camps.

SACN. Secularists Against Christian Nationalism. “White Christian nationalism is neither Biblical nor patriotic, but idolatrous and un-Christian” announce social scientists Philip Gorski and Samuel Perry (Gorski & Perry, 2022, p. 12).

Andrew Whitehead along with Samuel Perry are social scientists “using large-scale quantitative data to develop more reliable answers to questions about who Christian nationalists are and how Christian nationalism influences their lives” (Whitehead & Perry, 2022, p. 5). Whitehead and Perry list four categories of responders to ACN. Americans are either Rejecters (21.5% of Americans), Resisters (27%), Accommodators (32.1%), or Ambassadors (19.8%) (Whitehead & Perry, 2022, pp. 13, 25). In what follows I hope we gain clarity in distinguishing ACN ambassadors – even though not every ambassador is a card-carrying CAN — from the others.

One more interesting factoid. “It is the Ambassadors and Accommodators who overwhelmingly supported Trump, not the Rejecters or Resisters” (Whitehead & Perry, 2022, p. 67).


Please click on the next post – Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 1 — to start the actual adventure in measuring Christian nationalism.

PT 3230. Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 0 Introduction

PT 3200 Christian Nationalism Resources

PT 3218 Get Your Trump Bible!

PT 3219 Who is Afraid of Christian Nationalism?

PT 3220 A Christian Nationalist Hornets Nest?

PT 3221 Anti-Christian Nationalist Progressives: Pamela Cooper-White

PT 3222. God Made Trump. Really?

PT 3230 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 0

PT 3231 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 1

PT 3232 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 2

PT 3233 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Parts 3,4

PT 3235 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Parts 5,6

PT 3237 Gender and Race in Christian Nationalism, Parts 7,8

PT 3238 Roger Olson on Christian Nationalism


Ted Peters

For Patheos, Ted Peters posts articles and notices in the field of Public Theology. He is a Lutheran pastor and emeritus professor at the Graduate Theological Union. He co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, with Robert John Russell on behalf of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, in Berkeley, California, USA. His single volume systematic theology, God—The World’s Future, is now in the 3rd edition. He has also authored God as Trinity plus Sin: Radical Evil in Soul and Society as well as Sin Boldly: Justifying Faith for Fragile and Broken Souls. See his website:


Alberta, T. (2023). The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism. New York: Harper.

Butler, A. (2021). White Evangelical Racism. Chapel Hill NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

Cleage, A. (1972). Black Christian Nationalism: New Directions for the Black Church. New York: William Morrow.

Cooper-White, P. (2021). The Psychology of Christian Nationalism: Why People Are Drawn In and How to Talk Across the Divide. Minneapolis MN: Fortress.

Denker, D. (2022). Red State Christians: Understanding the Voters Who Elected Donals Trump. Minneapolis MN: Fortress.

DuMez, K. K. (2020). Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. New York: Norton.

Gorski, P., & Perry, S. (2022). The Flag and the Cross: Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McIntosh, S. (2021). Memoirs of a Black Christian Nationalist: Seeds of Liberation. New York: Merill Publishing.

Peters, T. (2023). The Voice of Public Theology. Adelaide: ATF.

Whitehead, A., & Perry, S. (2022). Taking Back America for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wolfe, S. (2023). The Case for Christian Nationalism. Moscow ID: Canon Press.


About Ted Peters
For Patheos, Ted Peters posts articles and notices in the field of Public Theology. He is a Lutheran pastor and emeritus professor at the Graduate Theological Union. He co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, with Robert John Russell on behalf of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, in Berkeley, California, USA. His single volume systematic theology, God—The World’s Future, is now in the 3rd edition. He has also authored God as Trinity plus Sin: Radical Evil in Soul and Society as well as Sin Boldly: Justifying Faith for Fragile and Broken Souls. See his website: You can read more about the author here.

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