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Letter to the Editor: Christian Nationalism

letter to the editor

Letter submitted to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

Dear Editor,

Christian nationalism is the result of an unholy union between Evangelicalism and Republican politics. I pastored my first Evangelical church in the late 1970s. I didn’t know of one preacher who publicly supported Christian nationalism. Preachers taught congregants that there was a strict separation of church and state. As a Baptist pastor, I believed that church and state were two separate God-ordained spheres; and that neither should encroach upon the other.

By the early 1980s, thanks to Jerry Falwell and Paul Wyrich of Moral Majority fame, I began hearing talk of “taking America back for God.” Not any God, of course, but the Evangelical God of the Bible. What was birthed four decades ago has now turned into a full-grown predator, out to capture America for Jesus. There’s no king but Jesus, Evangelicals are fond of saying. What was uttered in an eschatological context is now expected — dare I say demanded — in the present.

Freedom of religion has now come to mean freedom for conservative Christians and submission to their interpretation of the Bible by all others. Never mind the fact that the United States is a secular state. Never mind the fact that the U.S. Constitution does not mention God, and the Declaration of Independence refers to, at best, a generic, deistic God. Christian nationalists want and demand that Americans prostrate themselves before their deity and submit to the teachings of the Bible. Well, the teachings that fit their peculiar theological and political narrative, anyway.

Christian nationalists demand preferential treatment for their religion. Christian nationalists demand teacher-led prayer and Bible reading in public schools, the posting of the Ten Commandments on classroom walls, and the banishment of library books for the positive portrayal of same-sex couples or daring to mention the existence of LGBTQ people. Showing that the word “White” should modify the term Christian nationalists, these soldiers for Jesus demand the removal from history books of any negative portrayal of Whites. In their minds, slavery was just a jobs training program.

Through the front doors of schools have come Evangelical groups such as Lifewise Academy. Their goal is to indoctrinate and evangelize school children. It is clear that Christian dominion is the goal. And if that fails? Civil war, of which the January 6 insurrection was a precursor of things to come if Christian nationalists don’t get their way.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    Bruce, your letter describes something I’ve seen unfolding throughout my adult life: the way Evangelical zealots have perverted the notion of “religious freedom.” There was a time when, I think, most Evangelical Christians understood that they could “devote their lives to Christ” because they lived in a country that respected their right to do so freely. Now they want the “freedom” to impose their beliefs and ways on everybody The worst part is that they have developed a symbiotic relationship with most of the Republican party, who are willing to use them just as they are willing to folks who don’t want to tax billionaires or fossil fuel companies, to achieve their goals.

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    Thanks Bruce for submitting this to a news paper that is read by the kind of people that believe in Christian Nationalism, and not just posting to a blog where mostly like minded people visit.

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    40 years ago, my former denomination, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was 100% pro-separation of church and state. A minority of members may have thought it was fine, but were afraid of being discriminated against the rest of Christendom. Now, the denomination is split between pro-traditional, pro-Trump Christians, and horrified non-conservative Adventists. So it’s not doing much better resisting breaking down the wall between church and state.

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    My uncle (who is now 73 years old and raised in a Southern Baptist church) told me he stopped attending Baptist churches when the pastors started telling congregants how to vote. He said, “That’s between my conscience and God, not my pastor.” Unfortunately, most people did not think like my uncle and instead stayed in those churches where pastors trained members to vote for GOP candidates.

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