Onward, Christian soldiers: Right-wing religious nationalists launch dramatic new power play

By Paul Rosenberg

It’s just beginning to dawn on folks how much Donald Trump’s presidency relies on religious support. All the scandals surrounding Trump have brought intense attention to the 81 percent support he received from evangelical Christians in the 2016 election. New research by Andrew Whitehead, meanwhile, explicates such support in the context of Christian nationalism,and historian John Fea has written an important new book, “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump,” to be published in June.

But the power of the presidency isn’t the only way Christian nationalism is advancing its agenda in America today. As Frederick Clarkson, senior research analyst at Political Research Associates, reported last week at Religion Dispatches, a coalition of Christian right groups — including the Congressional Prayer Caucus FoundationWallbuilders, the National Legal Foundation and others — have organized a major legislative initiative called “Project Blitz.” Its goal is to pass an outwardly diverse but internally cohesive package of Christian-right bills at the state level, whose cumulative impact would be immense.

The agenda underlying these bills is not merely about Christian nationalism, a term that describes an Old Testament-based worldview fusing Christian and American identities, and meant to sharpen the divide between those who belong to those groups and those who are excluded. It’s also ultimately “dominionist,” meaning that it doubles down on the historically false notion of America as a “Christian nation” to insist that a a particular sectarian view of God should control every aspect of life, through all manner of human institutions. Christian nationalists are not in a position to impose their vision now, and to be fair, many involved in the movement would never go that far. But as explained by Julie Ingersoll in “Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction” (Salon interview here), dominionist ideas have had enormous influence on the religious right, even among those who overtly disavow them.

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