CNN ran a hit piece on something they called ‘Christian Nationalism’, tied it in with Trump, sexism, and bigotry and blasted it as a form of ‘Imposter Christianity’.
The problem with stories like that one is the way the author begins with an uncontested description of a out-group he obviously detests in cynical terms of his own choosing. Before we look too deeply at the incendiary piece this CNN ‘race and religion’ writer lobs at a group he has already presumed the worst of, let’s take a peek at his body of work.
At first glance, going by recent stories, he has a preoccupation with race and religion. Looking further into his credited works, we see that pattern continues. One story he wrote is worth keeping in mind as we look deeper into the one he wrote against this group he dubbed ‘Imposter Christians’. It was headlined, There’s nothing more frightening in America today than an angry White man
He used the term ‘Blackness’ in a headline, which, together with that last headline, gives a pretty big clue about his politics right there. It’s not just race and religion that preoccupies him, he also takes a lot of interest and energy in denouncing the political right.
So you wouldn’t really be surprised to learn he rolls those various hobby horses into a single, bigoted, vitriolic story, would you?
It began like this:
Three men, eyes closed and heads bowed, pray before a rough-hewn wooden cross. Another man wraps his arms around a massive Bible pressed against his chest like a shield. All throughout the crowd, people wave “Jesus Saves” banners and pump their fists toward the sky.
At first glance, these snapshots look like scenes from an outdoor church rally. But this event wasn’t a revival; it was what some call a Christian revolt. These were photos of people who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, during an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The insurrection marked the first time many Americans realized the US is facing a burgeoning White Christian nationalist movement. This movement uses Christian language to cloak sexism and hostility to Black people and non-White immigrants in its quest to create a White Christian America. — CNN
This betrays the same superfical understanding of those they criticize as we saw in a reporter from the Hill’s outrage at a Trump retweet that was later raised as evidence against him in Impeachment 2.0.
A Christian Trump supporter, Kylie Jane Kremer, tweeted that the ‘Calvary’ was coming. These biblical illiterates assumed she meant the military cavalry instead of the hill on which Christ was crucified and went straight to assumptions of ‘insurrection’.
A report from a team of clergy, scholars and advocates — sponsored by two groups that advocate for the separation of church and state — concluded that this ideology was used to “bolster, justify and intensify” the attack on the US Capitol. — CNN
Here we go… there’s that ‘Separation of Church and State’ tell.
The article is telling us that White Christian Nationalism is a grave danger because it’s going mainstream in the Church, and he’s quoting a NYTimes bestselling author Kristin Kobes Du Mez to back up his claims. (Du Mez is also a professor of history and gender studies.)
Because there is absolutely no greater defender of Christian orthodoxy than the hallowed halls of the New York Times, amiright? Here’s Du Mez giving a warning.
“These ideas are so widespread that any individual pastor or Christian leader who tries to turn the tide and say, ‘Let’s look again at Jesus and scripture,’ are going to be tossed aside,” she says.
The ideas are also insidious because many sound like expressions of Christian piety or harmless references to US history. But White Christian nationalists interpret these ideas in ways that are potentially violent and heretical. Their movement is not only anti-democratic, it contradicts the life and teachings of Jesus, some clergy, scholars and historians say.
Samuel Perry, a professor of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma who is authority on the ideology, calls it an “imposter Christianity.” —CNN
Oh. An ‘authority’. How nice. Is he as reliable as Fauci was?
This authority gives us 3 warnings signs tied to this dangerous phenomenon.
1) A belief that the US was founded as a Christian nation
2) A belief in a ‘Warrior Christ’
3) A belief there’s such a person as a ‘real American’
What is his problem with each of these?
He calls the Christian Nation belief a half-truth and magnifies the role of Founders and Framers who strayed from orthodox belief. (David Barton’s book, Original Intent makes short work of those assumptions.)
His objection to ‘Warrior Christ’ claims that these Christians ‘follow a different Jesus’ than the one depicted in the Gospels. He continues to say that they follow (gasp!) the Jesus of Revelation!
What, no mention of the fact that the mission of Christ’s First Advent was to be very different than his Second Coming? Christ came, at first, to bear the sin of humanity on his broken body, so that He would bear the wrath of God for our wickedness instead of us bearing it in ourselves.
His RETURN was to be in majesty and glory.
These are not different pictures of a different Jesus. This is the SAME Lord Jesus Christ.
Then he comes to ‘real American’. America, definitionally, is different than almost any other country in the world. Other countries began organically as a group of people with some kind of shared past experience associated with geography, ethnicity, culture and language.
America is different. America’s history is one of shared BELIEF, more than shared race, geography and history. There are certain core beliefs around which America was designed to operate. It took generations and the hard work of change-makers for those core beliefs to be extended to properly include everyone, but whose seeds for liberty had already been planted in our Founding Documents when the Framers penned them.
Or would this same CNN author dare to accuse Frederick Douglass of being somehow tainted by ‘white supremacist’ nationalism when Douglass said the following?
Douglass loved America foremost for its founding principles. He told a New York audience on July 4, 1862, “No people ever entered upon the pathway of nations, with higher and grander ideas of justice, liberty and humanity than ourselves.” The Declaration was for Douglass “that glorious document which can never be referred to too often,” whose “sublime and glorious truths” represent nothing less than “the eternal laws of the moral universe.” Likewise, and in stark contrast to Garrison, he extolled the Constitution as “a glorious liberty document.” —TheFederalist
What this CNN writer gets wrong is that many of the Founders and Framers explicitly believed in a God far more personal than the one proposed by Deism, and actively sought the blessing of God… especially when coming to particuarly important moments of decision.
Our Founding Documents’ most referenced source — more than Locke or Montesquieu — was Holy Scripture. It’s not even close.
There’s one question the writer never bothered to ask in his judging of the faith of others. Remember Jesus message about the speck out of your neighbor’s eye? Is this CNN writer guilty of squeezing Jesus into his own little political box to score points against those evil deplorables?
He purports to defend the ‘real’ Christianity from those ‘dangerous’ Trump supporters. But is he making an idol out of HIS political ideology? Could he be echoing the irreligious assumptions of aggressive secularists and urban costal elites?
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Christians upholding traditional views of scripture, gender, marriage, and general morality would have more in common with politically conservative side of the spectrum than they would with those who have embraced the explicitly materialist ideas of Marx or Mao. The party that actually booed God in their 2012 DNC also goes zero-for-ten on their support of the 10 Commandments.
But there’s another dead giveaway in that author’s writings. He is deeply preoccupied with race but Christ has called His disciples to a very different understanding of identity than the one John Blake is operating under.
Believers are called to find our identity not primarily in our race, culture or even our gender, but in the fact that we have been adopted into the family of God through faith in Christ, as Paul explained about the reconciling of Jew and Gentile in Ephesians 2, or in Galatians 3 when he takes it further:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
None of this vitriol from CNN should really surprise us. This is the same network that brought Reza Azlan on their show as a ‘religious authority’. He used the platform CNN gave him to consume human brains in India. Classy.
If that is their understanding of religious ‘expertise’, AND the network has a longstanding open hatred for Trump and the conservatives, should it surprise anyone that they would have a jaded vision of what one of Trump’s most loyal demographics are? Of course not.
They don’t mind a sweet 7lb 3oz baby Jesus, or one safely nailed to the cross. But a Holy God who rules and reigns and demands that His creation conform to HIS moral authority? THAT, is something they CANNOT abide.
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