Christian Nationalism Leveled by a Conservative
The following quotations come from Rod Dreher’s befuddlement of what is going on with the Eric Metaxas crowd who “know” that God has told them the elections were stolen from President Trump. The parade across the platform was … well, a parade of nationalistic idolatry.
This knocked me flat. I have known Metaxas since 1998. He is one of the sweetest men you could hope to meet, gentle and kind, a pleasure to be around. Not a hater in the least. Though I have not supported his Trumpist politics, I would not have figured him for someone who would go as far as he did on the Kirk interview. What kind of person calls for spilling blood in defense of a political cause for which he does not care if any factual justification exists? What kind of person compares doubters to Nazi collaborators? A religious zealot, that’s the kind. The only way one can justify that hysterical stance is if one conflates religion with politics, and politics with religion. ...
I watched because I wanted to see how far the Christian Right — for the record, I am an Orthodox Christian, and a conservative — would go to conflate Trump politics and religion. Pretty far, as it turns out. Right over the cliff. You had to see it to believe it...
That line [from Metaxas] — “When God gives you a vision, you don’t need to know anything else” — turns out to be the main key to understanding all of this. Over two decades ago, when I was getting to know Eric, we had a friendly argument over something theological, as we walked around Manhattan. When I challenged something Eric said, he replied that God had told him it was the thing to do. “How do you know that?” I asked. Because he did. The argument went nowhere. I remember it so clearly because that was the first time I had ever had a conversation with someone who asserted that something was true not because God said it — all Christians must believe that, or throw out Scripture — but because God had said it to them personally.
It’s one thing to claim that God told you to change churches, or something like that. It’s another thing to claim, especially if you have a national microphone, that God told you that the election was stolen, and that people need to prepare themselves to fight to the last drop of blood — an actual quote — to keep the libs from taking the presidency away from Trump. Watching the Jericho March, I saw that what I encountered for the first time in conversation with my friend over two decades ago is actually pretty common. Most of the Jericho March speakers, in one way or another, asserted their certainty about the election’s theft. The fact that courts keep throwing these Trump lawsuits out only proves how deep the corruption goes.
See how that works? They are willing to tear down the country for a belief that they cannot prove, but that they will not believe is disprovable....
Get this: at the height of Flynn speech, Trump appeared overhead in Marine One. Like an apparition! After Trump choppered off to the Army-Navy game, Flynn resumed his address. Every time they attack Trump, he said, they’re attacking you! Total identification of the collective with the individual man, Trump. I despise facile comparisons, but this is a core fascist trope. At the 1934 Nuremberg Party rally, Nazi functionary Rudolf Hess told the faithful, “The Party is Hitler! But Hitler is Germany, as Germany is Hitler!”
No, I don’t think Donald Trump = Adolf Hitler. My point is simply that political rhetoric that turns a political movement into a personality cult, and unites the masses in this psychological way with the leader, are never headed to a good place. You see what Flynn also did here: trained people in the crowd to reject any criticism of Trump as a personal attack on them.
Yes, it is bonkers. All of it. But you would be wrong to make fun of it and blow it off. This phenomenon is going to matter. Divinizing MAGA and Stop The Steal is going to tear churches to bits, and drive people away from the Christian faith (or keep them from coming in the first place). Based on what I saw today, the Christians in this movement do not doubt that Trump is God’s chosen, that they, by following him, are walking in light, and whatever they do to serve Trump is also serving God. They have tightly wound apocalyptic religion to conservative politics and American nationalism.
It all comes down to this one, a blatant act of idolatry.
“We have to align our spirituality to our politics,” said the speaker today. Notice that she didn’t say “align our politics to our spirituality.” Politics determines spirituality.
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