I’m a Baptist pastor against white Christian nationalism. It violates Jesus’ lessons Skip to content

I’m a Baptist pastor against white Christian nationalism. It violates Jesus’ lessons

Christian Nationalism is a growing threat to our democracy. This pastor calls it out as un-Christ-like.

"An Appeal to Heaven" flag, a symbol embraced in recent years by Christian Nationalists, hangs outside Speaker Mike Johnson's congressional office. (photo by Eric McDaniel / NPR)

I am writing as a Christian pastor — a Baptist, no less — serving churches for the past 52 years. Of course, I favor Christianity. And in my ministry, I invite persons to consider faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, it may seem surprising that I am a leader of an effort during this election year to resist White Christian nationalism. White Christian nationalism does not invite people into faith, but rather seeks to dominate, control and coerce not only individuals, but society.

White Christian nationalism is built upon a fundamental lie: that America was founded by Christians for Christians. Its followers’ belief is that Christianity, particularly their version of Christianity, should have elevated status and indeed dominate every facet of our society.

It is true that most of America’s founders were Christians, though there were significant exceptions. But they came to America in large part seeking religious liberty, not Christian domination. The religious liberty they were seeking was far different from the state- supported churches they were fleeing. No one knew if this “American experiment” would work. Indeed, at first nine of the 13 colonies had a state-supported church. However, within 15 years, nearly all state churches in the colonies ended and religious liberty in America began.

We weren’t founded to be a Christian nation, but rather a nation where all Americans are free to practice their faith as they see fit, or observe no faith at all. Yet today, there is a growing group of people — once on the fringe, but now in elected offices across American government — who seek Christian domination. They want their version of Christianity to be given preferred treatment. Even U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson has a Christian nationalist flag hanging at the entrance to his Capitol office.

I take exception to white Christian nationalism because it is a complete misrepresentation of Jesus of Nazareth. He didn’t seek to dominate, coerce or control others. Not ever. And he didn’t seek preferential treatment for his followers or himself. His teachings were just the opposite: Jesus taught that “those who want to be first among you must be your servant,” as in Matthew 20:27. As a follower of Jesus, I don’t want to be a part of any group that coerces, dominates or seeks to control our society. I don’t want to be a part of any system that seeks preferential treatment of white people. I don’t seek preferential treatment of Christians. I choose to live in freedom where everyone is granted equal rights and opportunity, regardless of race, gender, age, economic status or orientation.

I choose to live in a society that honors religious freedom and allows all of us the liberty to follow the dictates of our own souls. White Christian nationalism has been around in our society for a long time (think the Ku Klux Klan), but it has become more pervasive and masks itself behind lies and misrepresentations.


Written by The Rev. Dr. Stephen D. Jones, who is co-pastor of First Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri.

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