Are You a CHINO (Christian in Name Only)? Skip to content

Are You a CHINO (Christian in Name Only)?

Are you a CHINO? Taking off on Jeff Foxworthy: You might be a CHINO if ...

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A friend of mine, whose identity remains anonymous for his/her/their own protection, shared this title phrase with me some time ago.

Stealing the title of the famous book by Jeff Foxworthy, “You Might be a Redneck If…” I would argue that you might be a CHINO if:

  • You associate being Christian more with what you believe than with how you behave.
  • You believe that the Biblical phrase “the poor you will always have with you” means that you do not have to help them become less poor.
  • You believe that Jesus requires only a personal relationship with him – one that does not extend to groups of people or other individuals who are not like you in some important way(s).
  • You believe that the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” is and should be obeyed only after you have carefully defined the term “neighbor.”
  • You think that being a follower of Jesus means being found among churchgoers or, worse yet, that all churchgoers are Christians.
  • You believe that the death of Jesus on the cross was the most/only important thing in his life, and thus overshadows everything else Jesus did and said during his ministry.
  • You believe that most social teachings of Jesus — especially those putting the poor and oppressed ahead of self — should never be “mixed with politics,” yet that is exactly what you do when you support walls to separate us from asylum seekers and the poor and tell churchgoers to vote for Trump and against “evil” Democrats.
  • You think being pro-life only requires that you oppose abortion. Life after birth (see: gun violence, capital punishment, poverty), on the other hand, are not active life or death issues for you.
  • Your behavior suggests to others that you are more interested in power and money than in philanthropy and compassion.
  • You believe that the United States was created as a Christian nation.

It is true that, while CHINOs may be more prevalent among MAGA Republicans, it is also true that we are all infected with CHINOism. It is part of the sinful human condition.

However, CHINOism among MAGA Trumplicans has become more important over the past several years as red state leaders have become more aggressive in arguing that America is a Christian nation, something clearly not a belief of our founding fathers, most of whom were Deists (belief in a distant rational god) rather than Christians.

In the generations during and after the creation of the Constitution and new nation, a large number of Americans were not religious in thought or behavior. For many Americans booze was more important than the Bible in the early decades of our Republic.

Even though several religious revivals known as “Great Awakenings” occurred in the 18th century, Americans have been religious and non-religious in a variety of ways throughout our history. The U.S. could be considered a religious nation since we have given birth and/or new homes to many new religious groups such as Mormonism, Pentecostalism, Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Yet, none of these groups can match the anger of today’s Christian nationalists.

They want a state ruled by their understanding of God, instead of by votes and human lawmakers.

Today’s evangelical MAGA Christian nationalists want to go far beyond the founding fathers in attempting to merge conservative Christian values and some CHINO values with government policy, something most of our earliest leaders, especially Thomas Jefferson, would have feared and deplored.

Today’s MAGA Christian nationalists want their CHINO views to be reflected in all areas of our lives, especially health care and education. This is a clear threat to democracy since religious laws are not subject to the will or votes of the people. God, at least for many of my conservative religious friends, is a judgmental and authoritarian ruler, quick to punish, slower to forgive.

Think about that last paragraph as you prepare your letters of rebuttal to this column.

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Ken Wolf

Ken Wolf spent 40 years teaching European and World History, punctuated by several administrative chores, at Murray State University, retiring in 2008. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

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