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New Christian nationalism is, in fact, a 'woke right'

Human hand inserting bible to ballot box before American Flag, The ballot box is locked.
Human hand inserting bible to ballot box before American Flag, The ballot box is locked. | Getty Images/selimaksan

A few years ago, the word "woke" exploded into the American lexicon, as leftist activists used it to describe a state of awareness concerning racial inequalities and social injustices. It didn't take long, though, for "woke" to become a dirty word.

As the movement evolved, critics rightly called out the woke left for using critical race theory to create a false framework of generalized oppressed vs. oppressor, a worldview that informed subsequent developments such as DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) initiatives, attacks on free speech and draconian-but-baseless warnings about "the threat of dangerous white Christian nationalists."

Many white Americans also condemned the hypocrisy of the woke left for waving a banner of anti-racism while displaying its own race-based animus. This, as the drumbeat over the alleged "dangers of white Christian nationalism" grew ever louder, even as the only visible "Christian nationalists" at the time were largely a harmless hodgepodge of peaceful evangelical patriots and MAGA conservatives.

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The insult was enough, though, to serve as a challenge for a new group of Christians — and a novel version of Christian nationalism began to appear.

In 2022, Pastor Doug Wilson's Canon Press published Stephen Wolfe's book, The Case for Christian Nationalism.  But this wasn't the usual argument about a renewed need for the church to share the Gospel, pray for revival, and uphold the cherished values and freedoms of our constitutional republic.

Wolfe, leaning on the Reformed theological tradition, advocated for a "Christian Prince" to take the helm in the form of "theocratic Caesarism." Under this system, he wrote, arch-heretics and non-Christians would be punished with banishment, imprisonment or the death penalty. Lest that wasn't radical enough, Wolfe opined on the importance of bloodlines in a nation, writing: "The originating source for one's affection of people and place is his natural relation — those of his kin." In another section, he wrote: "Here I will justify violent revolution."

Other like-minded Christian nationalists emerged, as well. Among the most notable was Andrew Torba, founder of the social media site Gab, who released a book in 2022 called Christian Nationalism, co-authored with Minnesota pastor Andrew Isker. Another was former Trump official William Wolfe, now executive director of the Center for Baptist Leadership and advocate for saving the Southern Baptist Convention, who served as a contributing editor to 2023's "Statement on Christian Nationalism."

Two years later, this new breed of Christian nationalism has extensive tentacles into groups including Wilson's media empire and Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches; The Claremont Institute; the National Conservatism Conference (NatCon); Blaze Media; American Reformer; New Founding; and the Society for American Civic Renewal (SACR).

Some of what this crowd promotes is commendable, such as opposition to abortion, attacks on the family and LGBT ideology, and biblical positions that Christians largely support.

But scratch the surface of the Christian morality speeches and the picture grows darker. Although the factual details are too voluminous to list here, this movement as a whole is gaining a well-earned reputation for politically intolerant authoritarianism, white nationalism/Kinism, hostility toward Jewish people and Israel, and advocacy against the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of free speech, a woman's right to vote — and even religious liberty (except for themselves).

And though its leaders and band of followers would deny it, a close examination shows that this Christian nationalism is not a biblical movement at all. It is the flip side of the woke left.

This new Christian nationalism is, in fact, a woke right.

Here are a few key characteristics that the two sides share in common.

1. Identity Politics. The woke left stresses political activities that focus on the concerns of particular groups divided by identity, such as race or sex. The woke right also does this, basing its propositions for America almost solely on the concerns of white American Christians — particularly males.

2. The Motte and Bailey fallacy. This is a form of equivocation, in which someone holds both to a modest position on a matter (the "motte") and a more controversial position (the "bailey"). If the more controversial position gets pushback, he backpedals to claim that he's only advocating for the modest position.

On the woke left, this is evident with Black Lives Matter. As writer Craig Carroll points out, when the group is criticized for advocacy on an issue like "trans rights" (the "bailey"), it retreats to its "motte" that "black lives matter," a position he notes is then "impossible to attack."

On the woke right, the "motte" is stating Christian moral concerns. The Christian nationalist "bailey" is the proposal to put heretics to death or install a "Christian Franco" (a popular rallying cry on Christian nationalist social media). It is largely kept out of view. But when it’s put forward and there's pushback, its leaders beat a hasty retreat to cries for "Christian morality."

3. The oppressor vs. oppressed Model. Here, the woke left may state (and often does) that the oppressor is the white male, while the oppressed are ethnic minorities. For the woke right, the oppressor is the non-Christian woke left vs. the oppressed white American Christians, mainly males. In both cases, the solution is to reverse the oppressor and the oppressed via a payback-motivated power scheme.

4. A disdain for God-given freedoms. The woke left has no problem "saving democracy" through Big Tech censorship of conservatives or the suppression of legitimate news stories. But the Christian nationalists of the woke right also have argued against freedoms under their utopian political scheme, including stripping the vote from women and banning atheists from holding public office.

5. Antisemitism. Radicals from the woke left have put their disdain for Jewish people and the nation of Israel on full display recently in the shocking pro-Hamas protests on college campuses. But antisemitism is also increasingly on prominent display from the woke right.

Online, Torba criticizes "the antichrist Jewish nation-state called Israel" and has created a Hitler AI chatbot on Gab, without Christian nationalist repudiation. Dozens of pro-Christian nationalism accounts on the same site regularly make antisemitic remarks. Blake Callens, author of the excellent book (which I endorsed), The Case Against Christian Nationalism, also revealed extensive evidence that a church in Wilson's CREC denomination is rife with white nationalists.

Having considered the similarities between the woke left and the woke right, the question may arise: Why even worry about a woke right when they have little chance of gaining the power that the woke left actually has?

There are a number of reasons for this.

First, the woke right is increasingly finding favorable news coverage from large and trusted conservative platforms, including Fox News and Tucker Carlson, which can help legitimize this dangerous movement.

Second, the woke right is both unbiblical and un-American. What right do Christians have to strip others of their God-granted inalienable rights? Moreover, where does Scripture ever instruct the Church to seize state power to force pagans to be "righteous?" As 2 Cor. 5:21 reminds us, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." The only righteousness a sinful person can ever attain is through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

While Christians do need to be salt and light in our culture, the mission of the Church is not to take over America and force it under a terrifying Caesaropapism. Until the Lord Jesus returns for us, we are to live godly lives, let our light shine before men and fulfill the task of proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples of all nations.

President Reagan once said, "The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America." It is still as true as ever. That's why it's time for American Christians to denounce and reject the woke right of Christian nationalism and get busy with what the Lord really has called His church to do in this land of the free.

This piece has been adapted for publication here in The Christian Post. It was originally published at Janet Mefferd's substack. 

Janet Mefferd is a longtime Christian radio broadcaster whose nationally syndicated talk shows aired on more than 450 stations nationwide. She is a former news and religion reporter and editor for newspapers including The Dallas Morning News and the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, She now writes at Substack:

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