cross january 6
Washington, DC - January 6, 2021: Pro-Trump protester with Christian Cross seen during rally around at Capitol building (Photo: Lev Radin/Shutterstock)

Conservative columnist Gary Abernathy has a history working in Republican politics, but as he sees the GOP's new holy war he writes that he sees emerging into a movement for Christian nationalism.

Writing in the Washington Post Wednesday, Abernathy talked about the small church he went to as a child with about 75 people on an average Sunday. The sermons were about the message of Christianity with a touch of fire and brimstone for good measure. He noted that only on occasion was there a commentary on the Christian "underpinnings" of the country with quotes of Founding Fathers saying the word "God." It wasn't about rage over a political party or policies being good or evil.

"But in the wake of Roe v. Wade and other perceived attacks on that Old-Time Religion by an increasingly liberal world, Christianity had by the 1980s become politically weaponized, with 'Christian soldiers' mostly aligning with the GOP. That war rages today," he wrote.

In retrospect, Abernathy realizes that turning Christianity into a conservative political movement perhaps wasn't the best idea. It hasn't done well for Christianity either, with a large number of Americans leaving the religion, according to the Pew Research. The columnist thinks this is likely due to the most vocal practitioners weaponizing a faith that was once based on compassion, peace and love.

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"It’s natural for Christianity to exist in a state of tension within an inclusive democracy," he wrote. "Consider Jesus’ Great Commission to 'go and make disciples of all nations,' which includes, of course, this nation. By scripture, Christians are not encouraged to just live and let live. But our Constitution says otherwise."

He went on to say that Christians struggle with how to impact the world they live in, deciding whether to attend the school board meetings or home school children. What continues among right-wing nationalists is that the United States has "a special spiritual purpose." He claimed that Black churches fighting for civil rights in the 1950s and 60s employed ministers that would today be considered "Christian nationalists" and dangerous.

What he neglects to understand is that civil rights activists fought for themselves to be included as equals just as they are under God. Christian Nationalism today doesn't say that, far from it. It's a holy war to force the will and beliefs of a bastardized version of Christianity onto others.

"For many White Republicans, who are typically identified as the movement’s drivers," Abernathy continued, "the recent focus on Christian nationalism is the latest way to call their very existence a threat, close on the heels of accusations of racism, fascism and being 'MAGA Republicans,' defined in changing ways but always negatively, by President Biden." Biden is a devout Catholic and a Christian who implements much of the morality and values of his faith in expressing compassion for others.

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He cited Republicans like Doug Mastriano, who was shown in a Rolling Stone video praying officials would "on the sixth of January … rise up with boldness." Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) proclaimed herself a Christian nationalist on a podcast.

Abernathy advocated, however, that "what is asked in prayer or otherwise invoked of heaven should never disturb anyone. God often answers, 'No.' An individual’s personal belief system, whether based on religion or other guiding principles, informs their political actions. That will never change. But because Christianity is and will long be the predominant religion in the United States, it is important that Christians constantly remind themselves not to impose their beliefs on others by weight of law or strength of numbers. The deal we made long ago for the freedom to worship as we see fit was to guarantee that same right to people of all religions — or no religion at all."

Read the full column at the Washington Post.

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