The imminent threat of Christian nationalism

Posted on February 22, 2023

PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) recently published a groundbreaking poll with analysis entitled “Understanding the Threat of Christian Nationalism to American Democracy and Culture.”

The topline of the PRRI/Brookings poll received considerable coverage by major media outlets, including CNN, NPR and the Washington Post. However, there was little discussion of how Christian Nationalist attitudes affects the political parties.

In fact, the Republican Party is currently driven by its grassroots. GOP candidates and elected officials feel they have to agree with their grassroots’ beliefs. And the PRRI poll tells us quite a lot about those beliefs.

  • 68 percent of Republicans agree that “U.S. laws should be based on Christian values.”
  • 69 percent say “If the U.S. moves away from our Christian foundations, we will not have a country anymore.”
  • 54 percent agree that “Being Christian is an important part of being truly American.”
  • 52 percent of Republicans believe that “God intended America to be a new promised land where European Christians could create a society that could be an example to the rest of the world.”

Wow. Imagine what it takes to pander to that group of people. Or these:

  • 50 percent of Republicans say “The U.S. government should declare America a Christian nation.”
  • 52 percent declare “I would prefer the U.S. to be a nation primarily made up of people who follow the Christian faith.”
  • 36 percent of Republicans believe in the most extreme form of Christian Nationalism, that is “God has called Christians to exercise dominion over all areas of American society.”

The poll is not all bad news about religion. It does show what you can say that’s in agreement with their existing beliefs:

  • 69 percent of Republicans, along with 85 percent of Democrats and 80 percent of Independents believe “We must maintain a strict separation of church and state.”
  • 85 percent of Republicans, along with 92 percent of Democrats say that “The federal government should not favor one religion over another.”

The poll also looked at some racial beliefs:

  • 71 percent of Republicans agree that “Today discrimination against white Americans has become as big a problem as discrimination against Black Americans and other minorities.”
  • 64 percent disagree with the statement that “White supremacy is still a major problem in the U.S. today.”
  • 62 percent say that “Immigrants are invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background.”

It also explores some topics of gender:

  • 65 percent of Republicans agree “Society as a whole has become too soft and feminine.”
  • 56 percent say that “These days society seems to punish men just for acting like men.”
  • Just barely less than a majority, 47 percent of Republicans, believe “In a truly Christian family, the husband is the head of the household and his wife submits to his leadership.”

QAnon doesn’t own the GOP, but this belief is very disconcerting:

  • 29 percent Republicans believe that “The government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”

Finally, while GOP attitudes are the worst, there is an alarming degree of antisemitism across party lines.

  • 14 percent of Republicans, 11 percent of Democrats, and 14 percent of Independents say: “Jewish people hold too many positions of power in America today.”
  • 31 percent of Republicans, 20 percent of Democrats, and 23 percent of Independents believe: “Jewish people are more loyal to Israel than America.”
  • 46 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of Democrats, and 41 percent of Independents agree that: “Jewish people stick together more than other Americans.”

Sorry for the downbeat column. Thought you should know!