A Virtual Roundtable on the Threat of Christian Nationalism, Part 4 of 4 by Robert P. Jones
A conversation with Kristin Du Mez, Jemar Tisby, and Robert P. Jones
I hope you’ve been following our unique experiment here on Substack. I’m co-hosting—along withand —a four-part virtual roundtable discussion on the threat white Christian nationalism poses to our democracy and our churches.
The idea for this series was born when the three of us came together on February 8 in Washington, DC, for a panel to discuss the findings of the new PRRI/Brookings Christian Nationalism Survey, which was released at the Brookings Institution. If you missed the first three parts, be sure to check them out below. Each post contains reflections on the survey findings, plus video of each of our remarks at the public event at the Brookings Institution.
1. On February 9, I kicked us off at with part 1.
2. On February 12, Jemar posted his reply as part 2. Jemar minces no words at the opening of his remarks:
“White Christian Nationalism is the most urgent threat to democracy and the witness of the Church in the United States today."
3. On February 15, Kristin posted her reply as part 3. A quick teaser from her always insightful remarks:
“Historical sources make clear how these are not random connections, but rather that the different facets of Christian nationalism hold together as pieces of a larger story. A deep story that gives adherents and sympathizers a sense of identity and purpose.”
Today’s post is the fourth and final installment.
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Six Takeaways from the PRRI/Brookings Christian Nationalism Survey
One of the most difficult parts of analyzing a new public opinion survey is trying to step back from the details to get some perspective on the broader patterns revealed by the individual data points. The PRRI/Brookings survey contained over 6,000 respondents, each asked dozens of questions. The cross tabs, which break down the attitudinal questions by religious affiliation, political affiliation, and demographics run hundreds of pages.
One useful tool I’ve found for seeing the forest for the trees is to pay attention to how I talk about a new study with friends and family. What themes come to the fore in casual conversation? If I don’t use any statistics, how do I describe what’s significant?
So, with the helpful distance of a couple of weeks, along with the benefit of conversations with family, friends, and insightful reporters, here’s what is staying with me (without looking!) as central takeaways from the survey.
By a margin of two to one, Americans overall reject the tenets of Christian nationalism. This is good news for the country and for our churches.
However, Christian nationalism has commandeered one of America’s two political parties and one of our mainstream religious traditions.
Most Republicans—a party that today is overwhelmingly white and Christian—lean toward supporting Christian nationalism.
Among white evangelical Protestants—among whom two-thirds are either Christian nationalism adherents or sympathizers—Christian nationalism has essentially come to be the default orientation.
Christian nationalists are not just so-called “Christians in name only” (CINO). The data reveals a strong positive correlation between church attendance and Christian nationalist attitudes. The more likely one is to go to church, the more likely one is to affirm the tenets of Christian nationalism. In other words, rather than mitigating these dangers, churches are facilitating and promoting this ideology.
Christian nationalism does not exist in a vacuum but is comfortably part of a broader worldview that includes anti-Black racism; anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and antisemitic views; and patriarchal understandings of gender roles.
Christian nationalism is not just a “white” thing. But whiteness and white racial identity bend Christian nationalism in more dangerous directions. Compared to Christian nationalists of color, white Christian nationalists are far more likely to hold anti-Black, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim views.
Most troublingly, Christian nationalism is positively correlated with a willingness to resort to violence to resolve personal disagreements and support for acts of political violence to “save the country.”
The PRRI/Brookings Survey promises to have a long shelf life and will undoubtedly yield new insights as we continue to analyze the data. So stay tuned. PRRI will also be tracking these attitudes between now and the 2024 presidential election, allowing us to measure how they change over time, especially as the powerful campaign machinery revs up.
Have a question or comment about the survey? Drop it in the comments (feature limited to paid subscribers).
Video of the PRRI/Brookings Christian Nationalism Survey Event
ICYMI, below is the full video of the release of the PRRI/Brookings Christian Nationalism Survey, which took place February 8 at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. In addition to Kristin, Jemar and me, the panel featured E.J. Dionne Jr. and Bill Galston from Brookings andfrom the Trinity Forum. This video also includes the entire Q&A portion of the event.
Selected Media Coverage of the PRRI/Brookings Christian Nationalism Survey
More than half of Republicans support Christian nationalism, according to a new survey [Kristin and I are interviewed for this piece]
2.14.2023| NPR All Things Considered | Ashley Lopez
Christian Nationalism's Foothold In American Politics
2.15.2023| NPR Politics Podcast| Susan Davis, Danielle Kurtzleben, Ashley Lopez
A new lens into the overlap of religion and right-wing politics
2.8.2023 | The Washington Post | Philip Bump
A new poll gives us insight into a troubling anti-American movement
2.9.2023| The Washington Post | Jennifer Rubin
A Powerful Minority, Christian Nationalism is Democracy's 'Greatest Threat'
2.9.2023｜Newsweek | Nick Reynolds
Most US Republicans sympathetic to Christian nationalism, survey finds
2.9.2023| The Guardian | Maya Yang
Troubling data shows many Americans are pining to become a theocracy
2.13.2023| MSNBC| Ja'han Jones
What is Black History Month in a white Christian nation?
2.9.2023| Religion News Service | Andrew Whitehead
If you want learn more, and to support our work, you can buy the latest books by Kristin, Jemar, and me at the Bookshop links below.