David French tries to explain to the heathen readers of the Newspaper of Record what “Christian nationalism” means in the context of the Age of Trump:
Katherine Stewart wrote a disturbing report for The New Republic about the latest iteration of the ReAwaken America Tour, a radical right-wing road show sponsored by Charisma News, a Pentecostal Christian publication. The tour has attracted national attention, including in The Times, and features a collection of the far right’s most notorious conspiracy theorists and Christian populists.
The rhetoric at these events, which often attract crowds of thousands, is unhinged. There, as Stewart reported, you’ll hear a pastor named Mark Burns declare, “This is a God nation, this is a Jesus nation, and you will never take my God and my gun out of this nation.” You’ll also hear him say, “I have come ready to declare war on Satan and every race-baiting Democrat that tries to destroy our way of life here in the United States of America.” You’ll hear the right-wing radio host Stew Peters call for “Nuremberg Trials 2.0” and death for Anthony Fauci and Hunter Biden. The same speaker taunted the Fulton County, Ga., prosecutor Fani Willis by shouting: “Big Fani. Big fat Fani. Big fat Black Fani Willis.”
We cannot forget the astounding finding of a HarrisX poll for The Deseret News, showing that more Republicans see Donald Trump as a “person of faith” than see openly religious figures like Mitt Romney, Tim Scott and Mike Pence, Trump’s own (very evangelical) vice president, that way. It’s an utterly inexplicable result, until you understand the nature of the connection between so many Christian voters and Donald Trump.
And what is the nature of this association? It isn’t, French informs us, based on nuanced disagreements about theologically correct orientations toward the relationship between church and state:
There are differences, for example, among Catholic integralism, which specifically seeks to “integrate” Catholic religious authority with the state; Protestant theonomy, which “believes that civil law should follow the example of Israel’s civil and judicial laws under the Mosaic covenant”; and Pentecostalism’s Seven Mountain Mandate, which seeks to place every key political and cultural institution in the United States under Christian control.
But walk into Christian MAGA America and mention any one of those terms, and you’re likely to be greeted with a blank look. “Actual Christian nationalism,” Kidd argues, “is more a visceral reaction than a rationally chosen stance.” He’s right. Essays and books about philosophy and theology are important for determining the ultimate health of the church, but on the ground or in the pews? They’re much less important than emotion, prophecy and spiritualism.
Arguments about the proper role of virtue in the public square, for example, or arguments over the proper balance between order and liberty, are helpless in the face of prophecies, like the declarations from Christian “apostles” that Donald Trump is God’s appointed leader, destined to save the nation from destruction. Sometimes there’s no need for a prophet to deliver the message. Instead, Christians will claim that the Holy Spirit spoke to them directly. As one longtime friend told me, “David, I was with you on opposing Trump until the Holy Spirit told me that God had appointed him to lead.”
It’s been observed that if you talk to God that’s called prayer, but if God talks to you that’s called schizophrenia, or whatever the approved DSM-V term may be now.
What French considers the incomprehensible idea that Trump is more of “a person of faith” that Mike Pence or Mitt Romney is very easily comprehensible, given that we’re dealing with a cult, which by definition is a manifestation of a shared irrationalism that binds its adherents into a community of believers.
Indeed I would go further than that: For Trump’s Christian nationalist evangelical base — which is very clearly the core of his support — the evident fact that Trump is in every way the opposite of what a pious Christian is supposed to be, is itself the most powerful evidence of how God has chosen Donald Trump to lead America to salvation, precisely because this all remains incomprehensible to both the godless pagans of the secular hegemony, and “fake Christians” like David French.
“I preach Christ Jesus, folly to the Greeks.”
Paul, apostle to the gentiles
“Only the irrational is strong.”
Joseph de Maistre