On/File: A Continuing Record of Groups, Movements, People, and Events Impacting Contemporary Religion

Launched in 2019 by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC), the “Christians Against Christian Nationalism” campaign has been a relative success in making room for an evangelical voice critical of Christian nationalism in the U.S., although its influence on broader white evangelical sympathy for the movement has been limited. Christians Against Christian Nationalism is the brainchild of Amanda Tyler, who took the helm of the BJC in January 2017. The BJC was originally formed in 1936 under the auspices of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to defend “Baptist principles whenever and wherever they are threatened by government action,” and it was soon supported by other Baptist groups as well. In the early 1990s it lost the SBC’s support because it came to be seen as too liberal in an increasingly conservative milieu. Describing itself today as “the only national faith-based group solely focused on protecting religious freedom for all,” it still receives donations from a few hundred Baptist churches.

Source: Religion Dispatches (https://religiondispatches.org/new-report-on-white-christian-nationalism-and-the-j6-insurrection-shows-just-how-dire-the-threat-is/).

When the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign kicked off in July 2019, it described the attempt to merge Christian and American identities as a distortion of both. Thirty prominent American Christian figures from various denominations endorsed its call to oppose “a threat to our faith and our nation.” A series of 10 podcasts, entitled “The Dangers of Christian Nationalism,” was also released, and in February 2022, the BJC published a 60-page report on the Capitol riots. There are several reasons why the BJC has succeeded to some extent where earlier attempts to alert public opinion to the theocratic tendencies of the Christian Right have failed. Criticism voiced by a Baptist agency cannot be seen as an attack against all forms of religion in the public arena. As an NGO that has been in existence for many decades, the BJC also has credibility and can find support. Moreover, the radicalization of Christian nationalists may worry many people. But the success of the campaign should be put into perspective. The BJC’s influence remains limited, with the campaign against Christian nationalism collecting just over 35,000 signatures since it was launched. In 2022, a Pew report stated that 45 percent of Americans—and 81 percent of white evangelicals—believed that the United States should be a “Christian nation,” apparently paying little attention to the BJC’s warnings.

(Source: analysis by Philippe Gonzalez (University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Mulitudes, No. 95, Summer)