I read all of Thomas Edsall’s articles.
“The chilling amalgam of Christian Nationalism, white replacement theory and conspiratorial zeal — from QAnon to the “stolen” 2020 election — has attracted a substantial constituency in the United States, thanks in large part to the efforts of Donald Trump and his advisers. By some estimates, adherents of these overlapping movements make up as much as a quarter or even a third of the electorate. Whatever the scale, they are determined to restore what they see as the original racial and religious foundation of America.”
The original American identity was White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant and liberal republican with regional variations on that theme. The North and South were fighting in the War Between the States over the republican element and rival interpretations of the Constitution. Was the country established by the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution? Did the sovereign states create the Union?
The quarrel that caused the War Between the States looks small compared to the rift created by the culture war in our times. The Union and Confederacy weren’t really fighting over the fundamental identity of the country. Sure, there were some True Southrons who claimed to be descended from the Normans who were the natural aristocratic rulers of Britain, but the Confederacy was pretty much indistinguishable from the antebellum South. Both sides were republics and still celebrated the same holidays and heroes and fought under red, white and blue flags. Evangelical Christianity fired up both sides of the conflict.
American identity remained basically intact through the War Between the States and really until years between the World Wars. This is when it began to unravel down until our own times. Liberals embraced antiracism, cosmopolitanism, globalism, technocracy and modernism in these years which had a massive destabilizing impact on American culture and identity.
“While these elements are not new,” Robert Jones, chief executive of P.R.R.I., wrote by email, “Donald Trump wove them together and brought them out into the open. Indeed, the MAGA formula — the stoking of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment while making nativist appeals to the Christian right — could accurately be described as a white Christian nationalist strategy from the beginning.”
White identity and Christianity overlapped until the late 20th century. The Second Klan was more animated by Protestantism than White identity. It is only in recent decades as White identity, Christianity and Americanism have become decoupled under the postwar liberal consensus that atheists and pagans have begun to imagine that White Nationalism and Christianity are somehow inherently opposed.
“I asked Katherine Stewart, the author of “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism,” how much Christian Nationalism and the great replacement theory intersect. “The answer is complex,” Stewart said. “There is definitely a wing of the Christian nationalist movement that overlaps with the Great Replacement theory and demographic paranoia in general.” …“
Most people have opinions on lots of issues.
“Instead of Christian Nationalism, Stewart prefers the use of “religious nationalism,” which she describes as
a reactionary, authoritarian ideology that centers its grievances on a narrative of lost national greatness and believes in the indispensability of the “right” religion in recovering that lost greatness. This mind-set always involves a narrative of unjust persecution at the hands of alien or “un-American” groups. The specific targets may shift. Some focus their fears on the “homosexual agenda”; others target Americans of color or nonwhite immigrant groups; still others identify the menace with religious minorities such as Muslims, Jews and secular “elites,” or perceived threats against gender hierarchy and sexual order. And of course, many take an all-of-the-above approach. …”
Isn’t this true of progressive activists?
The vast majority of progressive activists are atheists, agnostics or deeply secular, modernists who have strong expressive values, people who support amnesty for illegal aliens, feminism, divorce, abortion, miscegenation, gay marriage, homosexuality, “trans,” censorship, “racial justice,” and so on. The LBGTQ acronym is always expanding and the flag is constantly having to be redesigned as new novelties are discovered and chased.
“Racial and ethnic resentment has grown far beyond the political fringes, Jones argued, citing levels of agreement in P.R.R.I. polling with the statement “Immigrants are invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background.” Among all voters, according to Jones, 29 percent believe that immigrants are invading our county; among Republicans, it’s 60 percent; among Democrats, 11 percent; among QAnon believers, 65 percent; among white evangelicals, 50 percent; and among white non-college voters, as pollsters put it, 43 percent. …”
If 60% of Republican voters and 50% of White evangelicals now believe they are being culturally and ethnically replaced, then our views must be rapidly spreading in the South.