Being a Christian in Public is now “Christian Nationalism”
David Closson at The Family Research Council has an interesting – and accurate – breakdown on the increasing popularity of the pejorative “Christian nationalism” being applied to any Christian who chooses to engage in the public square [emphasis added]:
Christian nationalism (defined as conflating one’s Christian and American identity) is wrong and ought to be rejected… [but] the ideological Left has seized upon the “Christian nationalism” buzzword in an attempt to belittle all American Christians and drive them from the public square…
By equating Christians with fanatics and conspiracy theorists, secular progressives believe they can more easily “cancel” Christians and exclude them from society and the political process. By radicalizing the term “Christian nationalism,” many see an opportunity to further the narrative that Christian political engagement is dangerous for America and motivated by evil.
Closson is right: Those who dislike Christians are trying to stigmatize them by appropriating — and altering — terminology. Similarly, the terms homophobia and transphobia – which, by definition, mean “irrational fear of” – have been appropriated by neo-sexual activists to label any who do not actively support their ideology. “Discrimination” has morphed from action to mere thought.
In that same vein, “Christian nationalism” is now applied to any Christian who lives their faith in their public life (“authentically,” to borrow a phrase). The “progressive” left is redefining words to create labels that align with their ideals and portray their ideological opponents in a negative light – because they hope it will help them win the narrative war in a sound bite world.
Is it working? How often do you hear the term “homophobic” in the news, absent any evidence there was an “irrational fear” of homosexuality?
This is the same methodology that Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and Chris Rodda have used for years, trying to claim that “Christian dominionists” are trying to take over the world through their access to the US military’s “laser-guided nuclear weapons.” The “dominionist” attacks didn’t catch on, however, and Weinstein and Rodda have since tried “fundamentalist Christian supremacy” to work into the more popular “supremacist” theme. Weinstein’s attacks have largely fallen flat because they were too academic; his pithier appellations fare better, but even Weinstein has retreated to the term “Christian nationalist” or “supremacist” without actually proving any Christian in the US military actually is either a nationalist or a supremacist.
And therein lies the strength of the attack based on a label: It doesn’t matter if it’s true. If they can coat tail on the basic understanding that an “irrational fear” or conflating religion and political identity is “bad”, all they have to do is make a loud enough argument that people they disagree with are “homophobes” or “Christian nationalists.” It doesn’t matter if they actually are.
Language can define a culture. If you can control the definition of a word – if you can control society’s language – what else can you control?