Halloween is just around the corner. You can tell because The Washington Post is printing spooky stories to terrify its nice progressive readers. This one has all the classic horror ingredients: Christians, patriots, and [shudder] Donald Trump himself!
In the Post’s “Religion” section (stop laughing!), reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey says that, thanks to Trump, the number of “Patriot churches” in the U.S. is growing. The churches are nondenominational Protestant congregations that -- get this -- “love America” and want it to retain its “Christian roots.” Is your flesh crawling yet?
Worst of all, they’re conservative, and “God, politics and religion are inseparable” for them. (There’s a progressive “Christian” church I pass on my commute. I don’t know what they believe except that “Black Lives Matter,” “Love is Love,” “No Person is Illegal,” and every other lefty bumper-sticker piety you can think of. I know because they put it all on a huge banner by the driveway. Somehow, I don’t think Bailey would find that remarkable.)
They pray for the nation. They talk about freedom. They don’t like socialism and, on sexual issues, they believe what Christians have for 2,000 years. Bailey writes:
The Patriot Churches belong to what religion experts describe as a loosely organized Christian nationalist movement that has flourished under President Trump. In just four years, he has helped reshape the landscape of American Christianity by elevating Christians once considered fringe, including Messianic Jews, preachers of the prosperity gospel and self-styled prophets.
Christian nationalists? Sounds like white nationalists, or just as icky. But luckily, the Post has “experts” to explain it to us. One is a sociologist named Samuel Perry, who says “no other factor better predicts a vote for Trump than adherence to a Christian nationalist ideology.” Another one is Paul Miller, who works at Georgetown University (which used to Catholic, but is now fully Jesuit.) He says that Trump has given these kooks “permission to say this stuff out loud. He’s mainstreamed them as prominent evangelical voices.”
So prominent: The centerpiece of Bailey’s article is Ken Peters’s flock of 50 people in “a barn in Lenoir City, Tenn.” That’s right. The Post can’t find Antifa or any interest in Hunter Biden’s laptop, but it found 50 politically active Christians in a Knoxville barn.
Granted, anything designated “patriot” will stand a Postie’s hair on end, and opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage is enough to send them screaming for safe spaces, but this is hardly the Third Great Awakening.
Ah, but you can’t be too careful. Bailey notes that “More than one-third of Americans say this country has always been and is currently a Christian nation, and 40 percent of Americans agree that God has granted the United States a special role in human history, according to the Public Religion Research Institute.”
Gosh, that sounds like American exceptionalism! Scary stuff!