Christian Nationalism in Historical and Theoretical Perspective
When: June 8, 2023, 9:00 am - Thursday
In this panel, scholars from three different disciplines examine the ongoing role of Christian nationalism in the United States today by exploring the ideology’s development historically, theoretically and globally. James Gorman will explore how the Churches of Christ have engaged with this ideology, Christina Littlefield will illustrate how 19th century progressive Christianity fueled the Christian American myth behind the later Christian Right, Jeremie Beller will consider how religion can boost the negative effects of a cultural worldview, and Chris Soper will share how religious nationalism is rising globally in diverse contexts.
James L. Gorman, Johnson University, “What Have Churches of Christ to do with Christian Nationalism?”
Richard T. Hughes’s Reviving the Ancient Faith argued that Churches of Christ emerged as a “sect” (a posture which rejects Christian nationalism) but transitioned to a “denomination” (a posture more friendly to Christian nationalism), in sociological terms. This paper explores some of the ways Churches of Christ in the twenty-first century have engaged Christian nationalism—from accommodation to rejection of the ideology.
Christina Littlefield, Pepperdine University, “How the Christian Left Paradoxically Spurred the Right’s Christian Nationalism”
This paper will explore how Social Gospel leaders, fueled by ideas of American chosenness and exceptionalism, continued the Second Great Awakening’s emphasis on remaking the United States in the image of the kingdom of God. Their heartfelt belief in building a Christian American laid the groundwork for the rise of Christian Nationalism today by fusing domestic reforms with imperialism at home and abroad.
Jeremie Beller, Oklahoma Christian University, “When Religion Pulls Double-Duty: A Terror Management Approach to Christian Nationalism”
In 1954, Gordon Allport noted the dangers of religion serving “double duty” when functioning as the cultural tradition of a group. This sense of “double duty” provides a helpful framework for understanding contemporary concerns with Christian Nationalism. Using Terror Management Theory (TMT), this presentation argues that the combination of religion as both spiritual and cultural elements of a worldview increases the negative effects associated with the interactions between competing worldviews as predicted by TMT.
Chris Soper, Pepperdine University, “Reaping the Whirlwind: Religion and Nationalism in Global Perspective”
Among the most significant political developments in recent decades has been the rise of religious nationalism in places as diverse as the United States, Poland, Russia, India, Israel, Turkey, and Myanmar, to name a few. As those disparate cases suggest, religious nationalism is a global phenomenon and a cross religious one as evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists have in different contexts asserted a close fusion of religion and nation. Using a comparative analysis of various cases, this paper seeks to define religious nationalism and explain why it has gained ascendency in recent decades.
Christina Littlefield, Pepperdine University, Convener
- James L. Gorman, Johnson University, “What Have Churches of Christ to do with Christian Nationalism?”
- Christina Littlefield, Pepperdine University, “How the Christian Left Paradoxically Spurred the Right’s Christian Nationalism”
- Jeremie Beller, Oklahoma Christian University, “When Religion Pulls Double-Duty: A Terror Management Approach to Christian Nationalism”
- Chris Soper, Pepperdine University, “Reaping the Whirlwind: Religion and Nationalism in Global Perspective"