In today’s interview, Katherine Stewart uses a striking phrase about the Christian nationalist movement – “faith-based bullying and bigotry.” Her journey of researching it began in 2009 when her children encountered the “Good News Club” organization which she describes as “confusing little kids into believing clubs endorsed by the school.” As a journalist, she dug deep into the broader movement which she sees as “an attack on modern constitutional democracy.”
Her latest book, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, documents this global movement which she says is “not Christianity and not religion, but an exploitation of religion for political purposes” seeking political and legal power to decide “who gets to belong as an American and who does not.”
Meet Katherine Stewart in my interview with her, listen to all that she says, and then continue below the video for more highlights.
Many people see Christian nationalism only through the lens of individuals they know, or events they hear about like the Reawaken America Tour, or sound bites on the news. As Katherine says here, it is driven not just by individual leaders but through multiple organizations. The movement has “deep roots in our history,” as she points out, but “the new right in the 1970s gave it new impetus, creating organizations still active today” – like the Heritage Foundation and the Council for National Policy.
What can we do? That’s the question most people ask. This is a huge network of churches and organizations with 50 years of experience in educating, training, and crafting their narrative of what it means to be an American and a Christian. Katherine acknowledges that people concerned about its growing power are only now organizing to address the dangers, but we have to engage now. “Vote,” she says, and “hold elected officials accountable.” Get involved in local and state elections where this movement has been organizing even for who gets elected to school boards. Find the groups engaged in challenging the movement, and get involved. She returned in the interview several times to says that “political engagement is essential.”
I love what she said toward the end about challenging the narrative of the movement. She said, “great and better stories which have the virtue of being true are out there, published over time.” She urges us to “extend our vision back a few centuries,” listen to the stories, and “recognize the progress over time, not without struggle” but true progress. Let us be “humbled and inspired” by that” and go out and repeat it in our time.
You may have read some of my posts in the fall about the Reawaken America Tour in Batavia, NY last August. You can read all of them now in a free eBook, “Inside the Reawaken America Tour.” Click here and download your copy today.