An overview of a worrying development
Review of "The Flag + The Cross" by Philip Gorski and Samuel Perry.
the flag + the cross
Philip S. Gorski and Samuel L. Perry
Oxford University Press, 2022.
The Flag + the Cross is a short primer on what Christian nationalism is and how it operates in the United States today. Drawing on its deep roots in American history, the authors explain central themes, such as beliefs that the United States is uniquely a Christian nation, a chosen people, blessed by God, with a special role in God’s mission. When their Anglo-Saxon Protestant values are threatened by secular influences, immigrants or other cultures, the powers of the state should be used to enforce them and violence is justified to maintain a certain social order. This book highlights the racial dimensions of the current movement. They show how declining numbers, combined with fear for the future, lead Christian Nationalists to turn away from democracy and use authoritarian means to achieve their goals. Chapters on recent decades use survey results to explain the deeper values and beliefs behind familiar news stories.
A sense of urgency is driven by evidence that the forces behind the January 6 violent insurrection in Washington, DC are alive and well post-Trump. In the foreword, Jemar Tisby, a well-known Christian leader, urges readers to pay attention because Christian nationalism threatens the witness of the church. Gorski and Perry then explain how Christian nationalism threatens democracy. They predict a second, more violent eruption that will “bury democracy for a generation” if current trends continue. They close the book with a call for a broad, multi-racial, popular movement of Christians and others to actively engage in stopping Christian nationalism and building a robust democracy that respects diverse cultures and religions.