What Is a Christian Nationalist Anyway?

Christian nationalists are simply trying to be a moral and religious people and ensure the success of the American experiment in so doing.

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

It’s an election year in America, which means that the political Left is trotting out its favorite fearmongering apparatuses again. For the past few years, politicians and pundits alike have leaned heavily on terms like “far right,” “bigoted,” racist,” “transphobic,” and “extremist”; but topping the list of late has been “Christian nationalist.” But what is a Christian nationalist?

Just last week, Politico propagandist and self-described reporter Heidi Przybyla appeared on MSNBC to offer her definition of a Christian nationalist: “They believe that our rights as Americans and as all human beings do not come from any earthly authority. They don’t come from Congress, from the Supreme Court, they come from God.” Her comments followed a Politico article she authored in which she wrote, “Christian nationalists in America believe that the country was founded as a Christian nation and that Christian values should be prioritized throughout government and public life.”

Of Przybyla’s two assessments, the latter is nearer the truth than the former. If the defining characteristic of a Christian nationalist were a belief that “our rights as Americans and as all human beings do not come from any earthly authority” but “from God,” then the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution would be tantamount to Christian nationalist manifestos.

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily

Email subscribe inline (#4)

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1776. Of course, even though Przybyla and her comrades don’t outright declare such men as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and the legendary George Washington “Christian nationalists,” their political counterparts work tirelessly to suppress the admiration of such men and the principles they championed, right down to removing monuments to the founders of America across the country.

Why? Przybyla answers that, and rather candidly: because “the country has become less religious and more diverse…” Indeed, the nation has become more diverse than it was at its inception—it is difficult to imagine the Founding Fathers discussing Sharia law and satanic idols when drafting the First Amendment. But it has not become less religious. In fact, the growing Muslim rebellion against such projects as gender ideology and sex education, and the popularity and platform of the pagan former Republican presidential primary candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, are evidence that non-Christians also embrace (at least for the most part) the American vision articulated by the Founders almost two-and-a-half centuries ago.

No, the country is not less religious than it once was, only less Christian. Certainly, a majority (about 63 percent, according to the Pew Research Center) of Americans identify as Christian, but that share has been declining for decades (already down from nearly 90 percent in the early 1990s). Even among those who identify as Christian today, Christian principles and morality are not always advocated and are sometimes even undermined—either in the name of some modernist, Marxist, all-mercy-no-justice revisioning of Christ or for the sake of some misconstrued, misunderstood notion of a “separation of church and state.” A clear example of this would be the incumbent president, Joe Biden, who identifies as a Catholic and even erroneously touts his faith, all while vociferously endorsing, promoting, and funding such evils as abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and socialism.

While Christianity has suffered a drastic decrease in recent years, a new religion has risen to take its place: Leftism. Yes, Leftism is a religion. Much like Catholicism, it even boasts a clergy, sacraments, and dogmas. Its clergy are elite power brokers: media personalities are its preachers while politicians serve as priests, legislating sacrifice to their gods. Its sacraments are multitudinous: from transgendering children and stocking school libraries with pornographic picture books all the way to its highest (or, rather, lowest) form of unholy prayer, abortion. 

Peter Kreeft once wrote, “Abortion is the Antichrist’s demonic parody of the eucharist. That’s why it uses the same holy words, ‘This is my body,’ with the blasphemous opposite meaning.” Leftism also has its own dogmas and doctrines, rigorously enforced by its own office of the inquisition. Those who dare question transgenderism, diversity and equity, drag queen story hours, or the sudden appearance of ten million illegal immigrants are swiftly dealt with and forced to recant their heresies or be excommunicated and labeled “extremists” and “bigots.” Which brings us back to those intolerant, extremist, Christian nationalists.

Every lie, they say, contains at least a seed of truth, but Przybyla (perhaps unwittingly) offered a whole seedcake’s worth: “Christian nationalists in America believe that the country was founded as a Christian nation and that Christian values should be prioritized throughout government and public life.” This assessment is very close to being spot-on.

Despite all the hyperinflated fearmongering, those derided by the White House and its media mouthpieces as “Christian nationalists” are not trying to force all Americans to attend Mass weekly; we are not endeavoring to install altar rails in the Capitol building; nor are we attempting to replace the Star-Spangled Banner’s stars with rosary beads.

So, what are we doing? John Adams, a Framer of the Constitution and George Washington’s successor as president, wrote in 1798, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Christian nationalists are simply trying to be a moral and religious people and ensure the success of the American experiment in so doing.

Certainly, we want to legislate Christian morality—to end the slaughter of unborn children, to ban the scourge of pornography, to keep little boys and little girls from having their sex organs hacked off or hacked open. These are measures which the Founding Fathers might have called “the basics” had they ever lived to see the horrors of the modern age. In his prescient book The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis called the set of principles compelling such commonsense measures “the Tao,” which is simply objective truth, Natural Law, the pursuit of inerrant virtue. One could easily argue that Christian nationalists are simply upholding the Tao, whether at the dinner table or in the voting booth.

Lewis prophesies what will come about if the Tao (the tenets of today’s Christian nationalism) are forgotten: the emergence of an elite class of “Conditioners.” He predicts, “The ultimate springs of human action are no longer, for them, something given. They have surrendered—like electricity: it is the function of the Conditioners to control, not obey them. …They are the motivators, the creators of motive.” He then asks, “But how are they going to be motivated themselves?”

When I said just now that all motives fail them, I should have said all motives except one. All motives that claim any validity other than that of their felt emotional weight at a given moment have failed them. Everything except the sic volo, sic jubeo has been explained away. But what never claimed objectivity cannot be destroyed by subjectivism. …When all that says “it is good” has been debunked, what says “I want” remains. It cannot be exploded or “seen through” because it never had any pretensions. The Conditioners, therefore, must come to be motivated simply by their own pleasure.

This is the end result of Leftism, the god that it worships: complete, unbridled abandon to self. This is also why “Christian nationalism” poses such a threat—indeed, an existential threat—to Leftism: because Christianity is dedicated to complete, unbridled abandon of self to Christ. Where Leftism declares that every man can be a god, Christianity teaches that every man ought to be a slave to Christ. The catch, of course, is that by being slaves to Christ, we also become sons of God (Galatians 4:7). This is the end result of Leftism, the god that it worships: complete, unbridled abandon to self. Tweet This

Leftism cannot abide the threat of Christian morality, nor even of the profession that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” because this would admit the existence of a Creator, a God, who not only demands but deserves worship. The fever dream of every man being god would be broken. In the end, that is what it means to be a Christian nationalist: to boldly declare that God is Law and that the laws penned by man must be in accord with Law Himself. Leftism declares the perverse inverse: that man is god, and thus any law penned by man is, by its nature, in accord with the law of the gods. With liberalism and relativism as the chief ideologies of the day, the only remaining threat to the Leftist’s state of self-worship is Christian nationalism.

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]


  • S.A. McCarthy

    S.A. McCarthy is a writer for The Washington Stand. He has also been published by The American Spectator, Real Clear Investigations, and Crisis Magazine. He served as a teacher at a Catholic school before beginning his career in journalism.

Join the Conversation

in our Telegram Chat

Or find us on

Editor's picks

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Signup to receive new Crisis articles daily

Email subscribe stack
Share to...