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Rep. Maxwell Frost calls out "racist, violent, and dangerous" Christian Nationalism
The freshman Democrat said he opposed his faith being used to hurt others
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If you’re looking for examples of Democrats calling out white Christian nationalism, there was no shortage during yesterday’s hearing on “global religious persecution” in front of the subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs.
It helped that ranking member Rep. Robert Garcia (a new member of the Congressional Freethought Caucus) used his time to highlight how domestic anti-LGBTQ bigotry often gets transported to other countries, Rep. Jamie Raskin (a co-founder of the CFC) noted the problem with blasphemy laws, and Rep. Jared Moskowitz called out the frequent Republican silence when their leaders (including Donald Trump) “cozy up” to neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and white supremacists.
Frost, the youngest member of the House, pointed out how faith-based persecution often means white evangelicals using their faith to justify oppression against outside groups.
Religious [persecution] and violent extremism globally are very serious threats to U.S. security and human rights abroad. Today… I want to focus in and hone in on religious extremism happening here in the United States, domestically, because I believe it's also a very important part of this conversation.
Christian Nationalism is a form of religious extremism making its way into our policies and undermining our democracy. These extremist actors are coopting the language of Christianity and religious freedom to push an undemocratic agenda that seeks the very opposite of what they claim to do.
… As a man of faith, I know that Christianity is not Christian Nationalism. I oppose my faith being used to whitewash a racist, violent, and dangerous ideology…
… Christian Nationalists have played vital roles in very violent attacks, even recently. The killing of 11 people attending services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The killing and murder of 9 people attending a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The Emanuel 9. The killing of 33 people shopping at Walmart and Tops in El Paso and Buffalo…
This threat to democracy has made its way to Congress. I mean, my colleague, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has said Christian Nationalism is “actually a good thing. It is an identity that Republicans need to embrace. And I am being attacked by the Godless Left because I said I'm a proud Christian Nationalist.”
My colleague, Representative Lauren Boebert, said, “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. I'm tired of the separation of church and state junk.” Junk being the Constitutional and Bill of Rights.
The Bible itself, in 2 Corinthians, actually warns us against this. Paul warned against this. He warned us against people who would preach of a Christ that differs from the true Christ that we learn about in the Bible. That's exactly what Christian Nationalism is doing.
I condemn religious extremism everywhere, globally and domestically. We have to recognize the threat it poses to our most sacred freedoms and rooted out everywhere. And I think it's incumbent, especially upon us as Christians, and me as a Christian, to be at the forefront of the fight to ensure that white nationalism and Christian Nationalism doesn't see the light of day.
That sort of rhetoric is exactly what we need to hear, especially when it comes from Christians themselves. It’s one reason a speech by Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrow went viral last summer after she called out her fellow believers for going after LGBTQ children. The “straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom” promised to protect kids from being “marginalised and targeted because they are not straight, white and Christian.”
Frost cited Greene and Boebert, but there were so many other examples he could have used, including the new Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson, an anti-abortion zealot and election denier who served as a lawyer for the right-wing Alliance Defending Freedom and recently introduced a national version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. At a time when 45% of Americans say the U.S. should be a “Christian nation” (however they interpret those words), including 67% of Republicans, it’s never been more urgent to prevent this attempt at theocracy-by-another-name.
Kudos, by the way, to Amanda Tyler of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty for answering Frost’s questions by stating, very bluntly, that Christian Nationalism “often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation” and that “Christian Nationalism is used by white supremacists to try to justify their violence.” (Also, I hope you noticed the subtle shade from Frost when he cited “second Corinthians.”)
Given that white Christian Nationalism played a key role in the January 6 insurrection attempt and continues to wreak havoc in GOP-led state legislatures across the country, it has never been more pressing for decent Christians to distance themselves from and denounce other Jesus-followers who use their religion as a weapon against people they don’t agree with or understand. Those who refuse to condemn it are complicit in the hijacking of their faith.