Christian nationalism, a belief that the United States was founded as a white, Christian nation and that there is no separation between church and state, is gaining steam on the right.
Prominent Republican politicians have made the themes critical to their message to voters in the run up to the 2022 midterm elections. Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, has argued that America is a Christian nation and that the separation of church and state is a “myth.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia hard-liner, declared: “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian Nationalists.” Amid a backlash, she doubled down and announced she would start selling “Christian Nationalist” shirts. Now Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seems to be flirting with Christian nationalist rhetoric, as well.
Appeals to Christian nationalism have a long tradition in American history, though they have usually operated on the fringes. But the increasingly mainstream appearance of this belief in GOP circles makes sense if you look at new public opinion surveys. Our new University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll suggests that declaring the United States a Christian nation is a message that could be broadly embraced by Republicans in the midterms and 2024 presidential race. But our findings also see limits to its appeal — and over the long-term, Christian nationalism could be a political loser.
We followed up by asking: “Would You Favor or Oppose the United States Officially Declaring the United States to be a Christian Nation?” The findings were striking.Overall, 62 percent of respondents said they opposed such a declaration, including 83 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of Republicans. Fully 61 percent of Republicans supported declaring the United States a Christian nation. In other words, even though over half of Republicans previously said such a move would be unconstitutional, a majority of GOP voters would still support this declaration.
Not surprisingly, much of the support for declaring the U.S. a Christian nation comes from Republicans who identify themselves as Evangelical or born-again Christians: Seventy-eight percent of this group support the move compared to 48 percent of other Republicans. Among Democrats, a slight majority of those identifying themselves as Evangelical or born-again Christians also backed such a declaration (52 percent), compared to just 8 percent of other Democrats.
The thing is, we all know this….except for the mainstream media more obsessed with wondering if Biden should invite Trump to the Queen’s funeral and giving endless space on op-ed pages to the 3 percent of Republicans who don’t support a fascist for their party’s nomination in 2024.
But the researchers here can call this a political loser–except that the countermajoritarian institutions of the American government and the Opus Dei courts will probably make sure this is the law of the land sooner rather than later.