A New Poll Gives Us Insight Into a Troubling Anti-American Movement
“When you hear the phrase ‘Christian nationalists,’ you might think of anti abortion conservatives who are upset about the phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ and embrace a vaguely ‘America First’ way of thinking. But according to a PRRI/Brookings Institution poll released Wednesday, Christian nationalists in fact harbor a set of extreme beliefs at odds with pluralistic democracy,” writesopinion columnist Jennifer Rubin for The Washington Post. Rubin emphasizes that Christian nationalist adherents (10% of the American public) are emphatically out of synch with the pluralist majority, as 73% of Americans overall express a preference for the U.S. to be a nation made up of people belonging to a variety of religions. Rubin also underscores that many beliefs of Christian nationalists are in line with the MAGA base: More than 70% of adherents embrace replacement theory, nearly one-quarter harbor the antisemitic view that Jews hold too many positions of power, more than 65% think Muslims from some countries should be banned, and almost 70% believe “the husband is the head of the household in ‘a truly Christian family’ and his wife submits to his leadership.” She also notes that the study finds nearly six in ten QAnon believers are also either Christian nationalism sympathizers (29%) or adherents (29%).
What Is Black History Month in a White Christian Nation?
Andrew Whitehead for Religion News Service considers PRRI/Brookings Institution’s new survey on Christian nationalism in the context of debates about how to discuss race in American schools, including in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis recently moved to block an AP African American studies course from his state’s approved curriculum. Whitehead writes: “White Americans […] who believe this country was founded as a Christian nation and desire to see a particular expression of Christianity privileged in the public square, imagine a very different past and present when it comes to the experiences of Black Americans.” The survey found that more than 80% of white Americans who strongly embrace Christian nationalism disagreed that generations of slavery and discrimination still affect Black Americans’ chances. Whitehead summarizes this as the desire to see a particular expression of Christianity privileged in the public sphere: “In a nation where close to 30% of its citizens strongly embrace or are at least sympathetic to Christian nationalism […] there are real barriers to how we collectively remember and choose to respond to the historical injustices faced by Black Americans.”
A Powerful Minority, Christian Nationalism is Democracy’s ‘Greatest Threat’
Nick Reynolds for Newsweek reports that the joint survey on Christian nationalism by PRRI/Brookings Institution “offers unprecedented insight into the breadth of Christian nationalism in today’s politics, helping bring clarity to a burgeoning […] movement that has shaped the contemporary Republican Party and raised new questions about religion’s role in today’s politics.” While only around one-third of U.S. adults consider themselves Christian nationalists or are largely sympathetic to its tenets, Reynolds highlights that this demographic represents a significant share of today’s Republican coalition, with beliefs that have become increasingly present in mainstream conservative rhetoric. Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to Joe Biden‘s State of the Union address by saying that Democrats are forcing the country to “worship false idols,” excoriating “the radical left’s America.” The survey finds that Christian nationalism is a predominantly conservative and white movement. Few Christian nationalists believe in concepts like structural racism and gender inequality and strongly oppose pro-immigration policies as well as the proliferation of the Muslim faith, Reynolds explains.
Most U.S. Republicans Sympathetic to Christian Nationalism, Survey Finds
Maya Yang for The Guardian quantifies the amount of Christian nationalists from PRRI/Brookings’ new national survey: 29% of white evangelical Protestants qualify as Christian nationalism adherents while 35% qualify as sympathizers, while more than half of Republicans are classified as adherents or sympathizers, at 21% and 33% respectively. The survey found that adherents are nearly seven times more likely than non-adherents – 40% vs. 16% – to agree that “true patriots might have to resort to violence to save our country,” and that among those that support such political violence, 12% indicated that they have personally threatened to use or actually used a gun, knife or other weapon on someone in the past few years. Furthermore, half of Christian nationalism adherents and 38% of sympathizers also endorse the idea of an authoritarian leader “who is willing to break some rules if that’s what it takes to set things right.” In conclusion, she notes that far-right politicians have publicly endorsed this ideology via comments such as “We should be Christian nationalists” and that Republicans should wear the “full armor of God.”
Read the full report, “A Christian Nation? Understanding the Threat of Christian Nationalism to American Democracy and Culture” here.