Gender and Race in Christian Nationalism: Parts 7,8

Gender and Race in Christian Nationalism: Parts 7,8 May 7, 2024

Gender and Race in Christian Nationalism: Parts 7,8

Dennis Sanders “Church and Main” on Gender and Race in Christian Nationalism

Here in the final post of our series, “Measuring Christian Nationalism: Gender and Race” we will look at two additional controversial measures:

  1. Gender
  2. Race

These two traits for Measuring Christian Nationalism will occupy us here. But first, a link to Dennis Sanders, host of the “Church and Main” Podcast. Dennis interviewed me on the topic, “Is Christian Nationalism Really a Problem?” Yes, Christian nationalism is really a problem. But it’s a relatively small problem compared to the unrelenting assault against evangelical Christians by progressives. What we really need is a defense against the actual source of our anxiety, the MAGA-Machiavellian wing of the Repblican Party.


BCN. Within Black Christian Nationalism, both men and women qualify equally to serve as ministers. “Reverend Cleage explicitly stated, A woman can be a minister in the Shrine of the Black Madonna just as well as a man. They both are on equal standing. If a woman brings her skills and talents to the Nation, she qualifies to be a minister’” (McIntosh, 2021, p. 61). Equality in ministry derives from the general affirmation that men and women are equal at birth, as persons, as responsible to the community.

ACN. In contrast to BCN, American Christian Nationlist Wolfe affirms a hierarchy with men on top. “A masculine society is preferred because it harmonizes the individual and hierarchy for the common good,” he says (Wolfe, 2023, p. 453). “Christian nationalists must affirm and restore gender hierarchy in society for the good of both men and women” (Wolfe, 2023, p. 454).

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. My bishop. Gender and Race in Christian Nationalism?

ACN. Ken Peters (no relationship to Ted Peters) recently started Patriot Church, unaffiliated with any denomination, in eastern Tennessee. Part of this church’s mission is to shut down drag queen shows. Peters “prays that “communism and socialism and transgenderism and homosexuality and abortion will not have their way in this land.”

SACN. “Christian nationalism advocates for a particular social order that lionizes hierarchies between men and women” (Whitehead & Perry, 2022, p. 17). This outside description seems to fit what ACNers say of themselves.

CACN. What Whitehead and Perry ascribe to ACN DuMez ascribes to evangelicalism. “Masculine authority, militarism, and the sexual and spiritual subordination of women have simply been part of the air evangelicals breathe for decades” (DuMez, 2020, 298). What DuMez objects most to is the emphasis in evangelicalism on masculinity.

Mojo Dojo Casa Church….As a Christian, I can’t help but feel the distance between the way of Christ as I understand it and this ego-driven masculine pissing match (excuse my language; I searched for a more respectable alternative but nothing seemed sufficient to describe this travesty).”

Whereas BCNers affirm gender equality, ACNers privilege men over women. CACNers expand what ACNers believe to apply to evangelicals overall. Many evangelical women would testify to this residual patriarchy, an inequality progressives seek diligently to overcome.

  1. Race

BCN. “Jesus, born of a Black Madonna, makes Christianity a Black man’s religion relevant to the Black man’s struggle for liberation in today’s world” (McIntosh, 2021, pp. 12-13). BCN is not likely to identify with White ACN. America should have effected equality and liberty, but it failed. In an aspirational vision, BCN anticipates a future America where equality and liberty obtain.

African American evangelical athletes place equality and liberty on their cultural agenda. “Black Christian athletes,” observes Angela Denker, “inherit a proud African American Christian history of protest and community organizing. African American churches and pastors drove the civil rights movement. Black athletes have often been expected to demonstrate their commitment to social justice and racial equality”(Denker, 2022 135-136). Whether in the pew or on the grid iron, Black Christians strive for justice and racial equality.

SACN. 38% of Black Protestants are either adherents of American Christian Nationalism or sympathetic. This according to the PRRI 2023 report on Christian Nationalism, summarized by Robert Jones. When critics of the evangelicals employ the term “White American Christian Nationalism,” they kick up dust, so we don’t see how the demographic “white” slips over into the ideology of “white supremacy.” I doubt that African American sympathizers to ACN are secretly white supremacists.

A recent Pew study shows that Black Protestants and religious “nones” are strongly Democratic.

Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr. Gender and Race in Christian Nationalism?

CACN. Kristin DuMez describes the tension within the Billy Graham organization in the 1950s. Graham had embraced the Civil Rights Movement, racially integrated his crusades, and invited Martin Luther King to lead prayer at Madison Square Garden. Yet, paradoxically, the very need for a Civil Rights Movement demonstrated that America had not lived up to its commitment to liberty and justice for all. “Having embraced the idea of America as a Christian nation, it was hard to accept a critique of the nation as fundamental as that advanced by the civil rights movement”(DuMez, 2020, 38).

SACN. Gorski and Perry think they observe that “whiteness” is rarely expressed explicitly. Yet, “whiteness” is often clearly assumed in the sort of “Christian” that adherents of white Christian nationalism have in mind (Gorski & Perry, 2022, p. 6). Are Gorski and Perry telling us that white evangelicals are white supremacists simply because they are white? That could not be right. See what Gorski and Perry also testify.

“There is also much that contemporary evangelicals can be proud of. There have always been some white Christians who saw racism, imperialism, and exploitation as the sins that they were and are. And who struggled for another America, based on equality, inclusion, and the common good. There still are” (Gorski & Perry, 2022, p. 128).

Might we then conclude that ACNers are white supremacists, but white evangelicals are not? Or are just some evangelicals? Is there any data here to help in discourse clarification?

It gets still more complicated. Secular forces made up of non-Christians find that White American Christian Nationalism serves their purposes. There is a secularized version of Christian nationalism whose central tenet is the defense of “white culture,” “Christian Civilization,” and a “traditional way of life” (Gorski & Perry, 2022, p. 11). Race and xenophobia belong to the core of ANC, Gorski and Perry tell us. “Anti-Black animus is still a core element. But anti-immigrant nativism has grown in importance” (Gorski & Perry, 2022, p. 105). In sum, White ANC is racist and so are the secular adherents who sympathize with ANC. Are evangelicals racist by implication? Certainly not if you ask the evangelicals.

EV. Let’s ask an evangelical. Evangelical champion of social justice and longtime editor of Sojourners, Jim Wallis, dubs White Christian Nationalism a heresy. WACN is heretical in large part because it sponsors racism.

Anthea Butler. “White Evangelical Racism”

CACN. Anthea Butler goes after evangelicals as a whole, not simply ACN. In her recent book, White Evangelical Racismshe 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, p. 137).

CACN. “While Christian nationalism is not a white phenomenon, the relationship between Christian nationalism and white Christians is noteworthy,” comments Patheos columnist Brad Vaughn.

CACN. Lutheran pastor and journalist Angela Denker reports she attended a Christian Nationalist worship service at Prestonwood Church near Dallas with a 5500-seat auditorium. Was it White American Christian Nationalism? Well, not exactly. “I saw people holding doors for each other. I saw America: white people, black people, Asian people, young people, old people, Latinos, kids, seniors” (Denker 2022, 24). Even so, Denker recognizes that race is a difficult matter to discuss. And evangelicals by no means have a well-formulated ideology to rely on.

“White Americans have a difficult time talking about race. Among Red State Christians, such defensiveness makes conversation nearly impossible. Racism needs to be discussed in America, especially among conservative whites. It’s frustrating to have conversations so easily shut down. Racism is a problem that requires a remedy among white Americans, especially as conservative Evangelicals continue to wrestle with the ways the Bible has been used in support of injustices against people of color, even in support of slavery” (Denker 2022, 109-110).

If we take into account the difficulties and nuances and pain that accompany race consciousness, it would be too glib to describe all evangelicals as White American Christian Nationalists. By no means is evangelicalism reducible to racism.

SACN. “Christian nationalism is also not reducible to racism…. On the contrary, in some instances being a member of a racial minority group and holding certain Christian nationalist views is associated with having a stronger racial justice orientation, the exact opposite of what we see in white Americans. In this sense it is the intersection of race and Christian nationalism that matters…. If we were to miraculously eliminate racism, Christian nationalism would still be with us” (Whitehead & Perry, 2022, p. 19).

CACN. That CACN should avoid reducing ACN to racism is a fact missed in the assessments of some CACNers.

“Christian nationalism is an ideology held overwhelmingly by white Americans,” observes Paul Miller. “And it thus tends to exacerbate racial and ethnic cleavages. In recent years, the movement has grown increasingly characterized by fear and by a belief that Christians are victims of persecution. Some are beginning to argue that American Christians need to prepare to fight, physically, to preserve America’s identity, an argument that played into the January 6 riot.”

White Americans overall experience anxiety as they witness traditional culture eroding like river silt washed to the sea. “The rise of Christian Nationalism in the United States, and of other forms of religious nationalism elsewhere in the world, comes from the exploitation of a dominant group’s fear of losing power,” says David Vasquez-Levy, President of the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

I have sought in this series to understand how anxiety can lead to resentment (French  ressentiment) and then even to violence. Like poking a sleeping tiger until it rises up and roars, the MAGA-Machiavellian wing of the Republican Party provokes violence. This anxious tinder box belongs to a wider cultural phenomenon. Racial resentment is not the patent of white evangelical Christians. Visit: Resentment vs Compassion Part 4: American Christian Nationalism.

Anxiety, Ressentiment, Scapegoating, and Political Manipulation

When seeing Christian symbols profaned as they were on January 6, 2021, it fills the Christian soul with dismay, disorientation, and deep grief. Amanda Tyler feels that grief.

“As a Christian, seeing signs of my faith on display during such a violent event filled me with anger and frustration. It was a display of textbook Christian nationalism, an ideology that merges American and Christian symbols, narratives and identities.”

Gender and Race in Christian Nationalism

How did we get to this point? Let me try on the anxiety explanation for Tyler’s “anger and frustration.” Persons living in largely white communities experience anxiety when they sense that sweeping cultural changes are beyond their control. In turn progressives and minorities are anxious that MAGA-Machiavellian Republicans threaten to reverse recent human rights gains in reproductive liberty, women’s status, racial equality, and health care access. We have a tinder box just waiting for a match.

It appears to me that both Trump supporters within the Republican Party as well as my liberal and progressive friends who are Democrats have allowed political campaigners to colonize our psyches with their sophisticated methods of manipulation. Katherine Stewart, writing in Christian Nationalism and the January 6, 2021 Insurrection, reports on what she personally observed. This is very telling, I believe. Republican propagandizers employ a…

“…mechanism for mobilizing mass political power [that] involves manufacturing and focusing a sense of persecution and resentment among the rank and file. To be clear, the movement draws on a wide range of preexisting anxieties and concerns. But its real contribution consists in identifying and promoting grievance and then aiming it at political opponents.”

When you and I are anxious, we become easily maniptulated, enraged, and victimized. We Christians become the scapegoating bullets that others fire from their political guns. This is the moment when we should listen to Saint Paul, “Do not be anxious” (Philippians 4:6).

Gender and Race in Christian Nationalism: Conclusions

Recall my working hypothesis guiding the previous series on Resentment and Compassion as well as this 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. This is a mistake.

It is my observation that for the last half decade progressive Christians along with critically thinking evangelical writers have been firing flaming arrows at American Christian Nationalism. But their ostensible target has been evangelical Christians. White evangelical Christians to be more precise. Not Black Christian Nationalists or Black evangelicals. Why is this happening? Here is my hypothetical answer about its origin: anxiety rising into ressentiment at the potential loss of our way of life due to a political threat. We all know the actual direction from which our national subversion is coming: the MAGA-Machiavellian wing of the Republican Party. In brief, calumny against evangelicals is displaced from anger aimed at both the Republican Party and genuine Christian nationalists.

Oh yes, since the era of the TV evangelists in the 1970s, many of our evangelical friends have sought personal empowerment along with social influence by affiliating with the Republican Party. This has turned into a pact with the devil. Why? Because in 2024 the MAGA-Machiavellian wing of that party follows a Pied Piper taking us toward prejudice, callousness, divisiveness, and dangerous international conflict. The tune the Pied Piper is playing makes us dance to the rhythms of anxiety, ressentiment, and xenophobia.

In reaction, we progressives feel ressentiment due to anxiety aroused by the Republican threat. Our evangelical and ACN friends feel ressentiment due to anxiety aroused by a threat of loss that the Republicans articulate in chants, phrases, and dog whistles. Our daily experience is one of divisiveness.

MAGA-Machiavellian Republicans?

According to Tim Larson, a Lutheran pastor in Southfield MI, “The problem for clergy and church leaders is that we somehow have to find a way to do ministry in this fluid environment without creating even more division, mistrust and unhealthy bias.  Cultivating agape can bring some stability and relief to a cross-pressured, chaotic milieu, if we have the time, inclination, and energy to do it.”

It has been my attempt in this lengthy Patheos series on Ressentiment and Compassion to understand what is going on. I believe with the now long-gone futurists in the u-d-c formula: Understanding leads to Decision which in turn leads to Control (Peters, 1978). Only faith can relieve our anxiety when we feel out of control.

I recognize that my contribution to increased understanding may be partial at best. Yet, the near future must be faced creatively and courageously for it seems to be out of control.

PT 3237 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Parts 7,8

Christian Nationalism Resources

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 Compassion

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

Resentment vs Compassion Part 14. Does Anti-White Christian Nationalism Scapegoat Evangelicals?

Resentment vs Compassion Part 15. Evangelicals Against Christian Nationalism

PT 3216. Power vs Goodness in 2024

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 3223: Mirroring Russian Christian Nationalism

PT 3230 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 0

PT 3231 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 1: Christian Nation?

PT 3232 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Part 2: Christian Values?

PT 3233 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Parts 3,4: Church-State Separation?

PT 3235 Measuring Christian Nationalism, Parts 5,6: God’s Plan?

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 Press.

Denker, A. (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. (1978). Futures–Human and Divine. Louisille: Abingdon John Knox.

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.

Browse Our Archives