Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Imposter Christianity vs (DEI) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, (CRT) Critical Race Theory, & Intersectionality

Imposter Christianity vs (DEI) Diversity,
Equity, and Inclusion, (CRT) Critical Race 
Theory, & Intersectionality

by R.E. Slater
July 26, 2022

DEI, CRT, and Intersectionality are explained here in the following three articles in non-politically polarizing language (unlike my own charged commentary, with apologies). I think you will find those articles helpful to read.

My Problem with Christian Denial & Obfustication

I've attended several universities in life. A very large, internationally ranked university for science, mathematics, engineering, IT, and general Humanities, Ancient History and Language studies. Then a private, conservative evangelical bible college for Psychology and Bible. Then a 3 year (it took me 4 years) M.Div. degree from the same school's Theological Seminary. And finally, 30/60 credits towards an MBA at a local state university.

This morning I became aware of my bible college (now a university in educational statue but still acting as a conservative private Christian college with its head planted firmly into the sand) firing 2/3's of its staff (42 persons) in order to clean house and wrap itself into the conspiritorial fellowships of neo-radical rightwing Republicanism and thereby actively decentering itself from such social issues as Christian humanities, humanism, social justice, and the ever evolving practices of civil, polyplural, multiethnic democracies. Gone are the olden days of penitance and service; in their place have come days of profanity and violence.

In so doing, my college, like so many other conforming Christian colleges, are going backwards in time against their historical progress forwards; backwards to their former selves to once again embrace varying forms of erring anti-abolition and anti-suffrage leagues known more commonly today as White Christian Nationalism. This then would be sympathetic forms of Christian white Supremacy seeking white cultural authoritarianism mixed with church-based theocracies of religiously interpreted dominionism over personal liberties:

"[White] Christian nationalism is Christian-affiliated religious nationalism seeks [religious dominion over] rightful civil liberties. Christian nationalists primarily focus on internal politics, such as passing laws that reflect their view of Christianity and its role in political and social life. In countries with a state Church, Christian nationalists, in seeking to preserve the status of a Christian state, uphold an antidisestablishmentarian position.

"Christian nationalists support the presence of Christian symbols and statuary in the public square, as well as state patronage for the display of religion, such as school prayer and the exhibition of nativity scenes during Christmastide or the Christian Cross on Good Friday.

"Christian nationalists draw support from the broader Christian right." - Wikipedia

I don't know about you but when's the last time you have experienced a fully healthy, fully blended church, seeking full congregational participation in polity, policy, and doctrine? Nope, me neither though I've been close to it several times. Just as perfect churches don't exist so I wouldn't recommend building a nation upon the church's example. It's not how I would envision a healthy, growing, Republican-based Liberal Democracy (see Wikipedia here for explanation) embracing social equality and justice for all - rather than for some if having the right color or having been assimilated into the right culture.

Using Opaque Christian Language Meaning Something Else

I next dived further into my Christian college's records along with it's contemporary history to discover it's leadership is willfully misusing Christian language. Thereby telling itself - and any who care to listen, such as its paying constituents - that Jesus is who they follow and worship. That diversity, equality, and inclusion is what they are all about. But by removing it's bible staff, faculty, and watching the outflow of non-whites out of its educational institution, it tells a different story. One that isn't as they say it is.

When reading through all these recent events of the college's newest statements, intentions, and actions, I noticed immediately the difficulty the institution was having with words they purposely were misconstruing so they could promote their own dogmatic church policies.

Words like toleration, social justice, and church missional work have become words playing into the conservative evangelical's fears of so called "liberalism" rather than a more proper fear of their own Christian associations, councils, synods, and fellowships' pell-mell flight into white Christian nationalism (WCN, aka "neo-rightwing republicanism").

Factually, flights into Christian revisional history cannot possibly begin to build upon evangelicalism's one time progress made over the years (1980s?) towards accepting, adapting, and learning to work within a multiracial democracy; nor, promote any decent global platform for Christian ministry in general.

Toleration is a Big Word with a Tricky Meaning for WCN's

Next I came to the authored books my college deemed important to the new president's resume and their hiring of him as I quickly came to the conclusion:

"Toleration" when used by WCNs can become an insipid term in the hands of disaffecting people or their dissenting groups. Such a word is intended as a derisional term to demean the other in everyway possible.
Importantly, as Christians following Jesus' example, we are to welcome and embrace difference... not to simply "tolerate" it as a different stream from white culture.

That said, my readers should know that Social Justice as expressed by DEI or CRT or even Intersectionality, is neither liberal nor marxist but the ethically right thing to do when placing emphasis on one's brothers and sisters rather than insisting on assimilating church members - as a rite of fundamental Christian passage - into the local white "Christian" culture so that "traditional" Christian whites might "tolerate" non-white cultures better:

The correct usage of terms, and honest declarations of purpose, are much better policies and more helpful to Christian mission than when claiming white privilege in usurping Scripture and faith under false ideologies of faith privilege.

Thus and thus, "Toleration" is a poisonous outlook and unhelpful in today's metamodern worlds of global exchange, eco-building, or conjoined human activities for humanity, equality, resource sharing, and justice. Like DEI and CRT, global intersectionality would be applauded by Jesus even if his children don't like it, fear it, and conspire against it with tricky self-righteous words like "toleration" betrayed by the users themselves trying to navigate their imposter faith with Jesus.

R.E. Slater
July 26, 2022

What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)?

Diversity is the presence of differences that may include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, religious commitment, or political perspective. Populations that have been-and remain- underrepresented among practitioners in the field and marginalized in the broader society.

Equity is promoting justice, impartiality and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.

Inclusion is an outcome to ensure those that are diverse actually feel and/or are welcomed. Inclusion outcomes are met when you, your institution, and your program are truly inviting to all. To the degree to which diverse individuals are able to participate fully in the decision-making processes and development opportunities within an organization or group.

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by Cherrie L. Davis
July 14, 2021

I am an expert on DEI. I am not sure why it started, but once I embraced it, I learned more. As I learned more, I was better able to help leaders forge a path that includes diversity in considering the best ways to create equitable workplaces. These workplaces foster creativity and innovation.

The study of race in America, critical race theory or CRT, has been an academic discipline that looks at history and law. The topic made headlines last September when former president Trump denounced it, however the academic study began in the 1940’s as scholars began piecing together events and timeframes that led to inequalities in post-emancipation United States.

I wrote recently about DEI and the confusion it can create. CRT is an addition to the alphabet soup that is bitter and uncomfortable to talk about—but we must talk about it. Not talking about it is what has gotten us to where we are, and it isn’t hearts and flowers all the time. In order to get to where we’re going, we need to understand DEI, CRT, and, to be poetic, what they mean to me (the DEI expert).

DEI, a ReCap

Diversity, equity, and inclusion. In a nutshell it is seeing differences and accepting those differences—some will call it being woke. When we address our differences, we can ask the natural questions: what is your culture (African American, Caribbean, Mexican, Pacific Islander, Chinese, Cambodian, Honduran)? Inclusion is not lumping all cultures into large generic buckets and accepting the stereotypes about them, not all Asians are good with numbers and not every Cuban can do magic with pork.

CRT, which we will get to, focuses on race in America, but DEI looks at gender, ability, age, religion, and other differences among people. Learning the unique things about a person allows them to be who they are without trying to fit into a prescribed box that either doesn’t belong to them or that may be true of other people of their culture but is not true of them. When people can be fully who they are, they are able to produce their best work and isn’t that what we as leaders want to provide?

Getting Critical (in Theory)

Critical race theory takes an accurate look at American history. It studies painful parts of US history, primarily the ways black people, descendants of slaves as well as black immigrants, are treated in the US.

As you might imagine, that creates some tension within the race whose history has been predominant—Anglo Saxons aka white people. It also creates a necessity to unlearn what we’ve been taught and relearn things like Reconstruction, violence towards black people, and how practices like convict labor created new forms of slavery.

CRT got its push into the forefront of academia in the mid 1980’s when scholars began researching governmental policies and legal cases. The research led to a difficult realization in research-based spheres, a truth many of us knew for a long time—the law is not neutral and that there is more than one correct answer for legal cases. CRT looks at post-abolition systems in the United States, how they favor whites, and how seemingly good intentions changed to bend the arc of justice back to where it always was.

This challenge to the status quo opens the door for people of color to consider their status and work to improve their cultural value and social standing. The very idea is contentious. The truth, however, is that history is written by the victor. CRT is looking at US history to identify places where liberty and justice was not for all and to empower people to move forward to create the country of equality alluded to at the start of our nation.

Intersectionality—Big Word, Important Mission

The convergence of race in US history and embracing diversity is the place of another academic word: intersectionality. If diversity is so great and critical race theory is an integral piece of DEI—which we’ve agreed is leadership goals–then shouldn’t we encourage CRT? At the intersection of these 2 ideas is the hard work that needs to be done. CRT forces us to face our dark past and accept that our history is not the amalgam of people lifted from the jungles of Africa to come to the new land where their mistreatment was rewarded by freedom.

The biggest debates are happening in Board of Education meetings across the country. Parents want to prevent the ugly parts of history from being taught before their students can understand it or they simply do not want it taught at all. By the time we see it in our workplaces, how we got to this moment matters little. What matters is how we address it and what we do to move forward in our common humanity, providing inclusive and equitable workplaces for everyone (enter the words of your HR DEI statement here).

There is nothing new about DEI or CRT. When CRT became soundbites taken out of context, it became the critical focus of our divided political state. In truth, we have been working on the move forward since the mid 1980’s. Maybe, though, we have been trying to be too easy on ourselves. We have tried to do the work of DEI without looking at why we need it. CRT focuses on race, but the questions at the intersection of the two are the same: How have we historically treated people? Have we used laws to validate our action or inaction? Have we let what we’ve been taught lead our thoughts, right or wrong? Ouch. Are you more afraid of losing your power to gain equity? Or, do you have to work to overcome beliefs about your culture before you can even begin to begin to create your best work? Are you exhausted? I’m a DEI expert and I’m exhausted—but the work must go on.

This is where honest, uncomfortable conversations need to happen. They need to happen with you to prevent the kind of heated arguments that we are seeing in the news now in your breakrooms.

Shift Points:
  • You know you. Consider what you think you may need to unlearn.
  • Accepting our past in its entirety is the key to moving forward together.
  • Everyone has overcome something. Be vulnerable enough to hear and to share with others.

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At UBC we believe excellence cannot be achieved without inclusion. But how we are included is shaped by how we present ourselves, the ways we are seen by others, the systems and norms of our campus, and how they all intersect. For the VPFO to meet our objectives around operational excellence, we each need to develop our understanding of people’s unique experiences, opportunities, and barriers.

What is intersectionality?

Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and professor at UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School, talks about intersectional theory

Kimberlé Crenshaw is an American civil rights advocate and professor at both the UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School. Kimberlé has created a way to think about our identities and how we experience the world called intersectionality.

Intersectionality is a framework that describes how our overlapping social identities relate to social structures of racism and oppression. Intersectionality merges many identity markers, including race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, religion, disability, and more, to create a more truthful and complex identity.

For example, a queer black woman may experience the world on the basis of her sexuality, gender, and race — a unique experience based on how those identities intersect in her life.

Why is it important?

Intersectionality is directly tied to oppression. Oppression is the force that allows, through the power of norms and systems, the unjust treatment or control of people. Intersectionality shows us that social identities work on multiple levels, resulting in unique experiences, opportunities, and barriers for each person. Therefore, oppression cannot be reduced to only one part of an identity; each oppression is dependent on and shapes the other.

Understanding intersectionality is essential to combatting the interwoven prejudices people face in their daily lives.

What can I do?

By reflecting on our own identities, their intersections, and practice being mindful we can become better allies for marginalized groups or better able to articulate our own experience.

Wheel of power and privilege

Click the image for a larger view

This wheel diagram, the Wheel of Power/Privilege, is a simplified way to reflect on the many intersecting identities and power structures that we all engage with. Consider how your social identities play into your privilege. What areas sound like you? What types of privilege aren’t on the wheel? How are others you work with represented on the wheel?

Learning about intersectionality and how it affects all of us, both in our work and personal lives, allow us to respectfully communicate with peers, and deepens our understanding of the ways in which diversity, equity, and inclusion are relevant to our community.

To learn more about intersectionality, you can watch this TEDx talk by Kimberlé Crenshaw or read this Intersectionality Report by Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses.

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Kristin Du Mez: How White Evangelicals Corrupted
a Faith and Fractured a Nation
Nov 2, 2021

Hollywood’s strong men icon, portrayed by actors like John Wayne and Mel Gibson, have coopted core biblical teachings such as loving one’s neighbors and enemies, adding a militant battle cry. Mainstream evangelical leaders preach a “mutually reinforcing vision of Christian masculinity – of patriarchy and submission, sex and power.” 
In her NYT best-seller, Jesus and John Wayne, Kristin Du Mez traces how a militant ideal of white, Christian manhood has come to pervade evangelical popular culture in America. She argues this has led to the hero worship of Donald Trump, who embodies the ideal of militant masculinity, protector and warrior.
Cambridge Forum welcomed Du Mez to talk about her book with historians Jon Butler and Jemar Tisby. This talk is part of the Cambridge Forum’s THE SEARCH FOR MEANING, a 3 part series looking at the benefits and failures of organized religion in the US.
GBH Forum Network ~ Free online lectures: Explore a world of ideas. 
See our complete archive here: http://forum-network.org

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A supporter of then-President Donald Trump prays outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington.

An 'imposter Christianity' is threatening
American democracy

Analysis by John Blake, CNN
Sun July 24, 2022

(CNN)Three men, eyes closed and heads bowed, pray before a rough-hewn wooden cross. Another man wraps his arms around a massive Bible pressed against his chest like a shield. All throughout the crowd, people wave "Jesus Saves" banners and pump their fists toward the sky.

At first glance, these snapshots look like scenes from an outdoor church rally. But this event wasn't a revival; it was what some call a Christian revolt. These were photos of people who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, during an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The insurrection marked the first time many Americans realized the US is facing a burgeoning White Christian nationalist movement. This movement uses Christian language to cloak sexism and hostility to Black people and non-White immigrants in its quest to create a White Christian America.

A report from a team of clergy, scholars and advocates — sponsored by two groups that advocate for the separation of church and state — concluded that this ideology was used to "bolster, justify and intensify" the attack on the US Capitol.

Demonstrators pray outside the US Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021.

Much of the House January 6 committee's focus so far has been on right-wing extremist groups. But there are plenty of other Americans who have adopted teachings of the White Christian nationalists who stormed the Capitol — often without knowing it, scholars, historians, sociologists and clergy say.

White Christian nationalist beliefs have infiltrated the religious mainstream so thoroughly that virtually any conservative Christian pastor who tries to challenge its ideology risks their career, says Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of the New York Times bestseller, "Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation."

"These ideas are so widespread that any individual pastor or Christian leader who tries to turn the tide and say, 'Let's look again at Jesus and scripture,' are going to be tossed aside," she says.

The ideas are also insidious because many sound like expressions of Christian piety or harmless references to US history. But White Christian nationalists interpret these ideas in ways that are potentially violent and heretical. Their movement is not only anti-democratic, it contradicts the life and teachings of Jesus, some clergy, scholars and historians say.

Samuel Perry, a professor of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma who is authority on the ideology, calls it an "imposter Christianity."

Here are three key beliefs often tied to White Christian nationalism.

A belief that the US was founded as a Christian nation

One of the banners spotted at the January 6 insurrection was a replica of the American flag with the caption, "Jesus is My Savior, Trump is My President."

Erasing the line separating piety from politics is a key characteristic of White Christian nationalism. Many want to reduce or erase the separation of church and state, say those who study the movement.

One of the most popular beliefs among White Christian nationalists is that the US was founded as a Christian nation; the Founding Fathers were all orthodox, evangelical Christians; and God has chosen the US for a special role in history.

This painting chronicles lawmakers' signing of the Constitution of the United States in 1787.

These beliefs are growing among Christians, according to a survey last year by the Barna Group, a company that conducts surveys about faith and culture for communities of faith and nonprofits. The group found that an "increasing number of American Christians believe strongly" that the US is a Christian nation, has not oppressed minorities, and has been chosen by God to lead the world.

But the notion that the US was founded as a Christian nation is bad history and bad theology, says Philip Gorski, a sociologist at Yale University and co-author of "The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy."

"It's a half truth, a mythological version of American history," Gorski says.

Some Founding Fathers did view the founding of the nation through a Biblical lens, Gorski says. (Every state constitution contains a reference to God or the divine.)
But many did not. And virtually none of them could be classified as evangelical Christians. They were a collection of atheists, Unitarians, Deists, and liberal Protestants and other denominations.

A Trump supporter holds a Bible as he gathers with
others outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The Constitution also says nothing about God, the Bible or the Ten Commandments, Gorski says. And saying the US was founded as a Christian nation ignores the fact that much of its initial wealth was derived from slave labor and land stolen from Native Americans, he says.

For evidence that the United States was founded as a secular nation, look no further than the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, an agreement the US negotiated with a country in present-day Libya to end the practice of pirates attacking American ships. It was ratified unanimously by a Senate still half-filled with signers of the Constitution and declared, "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on Christian religion."

Does this mean that any White Christian who salutes the flag and says they love their country is a Christian nationalist? No, not at all, historians say. A White Christian who says they love America and its values and institutions is not the same thing as a White Christian nationalist, scholars say.

Gorski also notes that many devout Black Americans have exhibited a form of patriotism that does not degenerate into Christian nationalism.

American social reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, circa 1880.

Gorski points to examples of the 19th century abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Both were devout Christians who expressed admiration for America and its founding documents. But their patriotism also meant that "they challenged the nation to live up to its highest principles, to become a place of freedom, equality, justice and inclusion," he says.

The patriotism of White Christian nationalists, on the other hand, is a form of racial tribalism, Gorski says.

"It's a 'My tribe. 'We [White people] were here first. This is our country, and we don't like people who are trying to change it or people who are different' form of nationalism," Gorski says.

A belief in a 'Warrior Christ'

Videos from the January 6 attack show a chaotic, tear-gas-soaked scene at the Capitol that looked more like a medieval battle. Insurrectionists punched police officers, used flagpoles as spears and smashed officers' faces against doors while a mob chanted, "Fight for Trump!" The attack left five people dead and nearly 140 law enforcement officers injured.

The incongruity of people carrying "Jesus Saves" signs while joining a mob whose members are pummeling police officers leads to an obvious question: How can White Christian nationalists who claim to follow Jesus, the "Prince of Peace" who renounced violence in the Gospels, support a violent insurrection?

A protester holds up a Bible amid the crowd storming the
US Capitol Rotunda in Washington on January 6, 2021.

That's because they follow a different Jesus than the one depicted in the Gospels, says Du Mez, who is also a professor of history and gender studies at Calvin University — a Christian school — in Michigan. They follow the Jesus depicted in the Book of Revelation, the warrior with eyes like "flames of fire" and "a robe dipped in blood" who led the armies of heaven on white horses in a final, triumphant battle against the forces of the antichrist.

White Christian nationalists have refashioned Jesus into a kick-butt savior who is willing to smite enemies to restore America to a Christian nation by force, if necessary, Du Mez and others say.

While warlike language like putting on "the full armor of God" has long been common in Christian sermons and hymns, it has largely been interpreted as metaphorical. But many White Christian nationalists take that language literally.

Read more from John Blake:

That was clear on January 6. Some insurrectionists wore caps emblazoned with "God, Guns, Trump" and chanted that the blood of Jesus was washing Congress clean. One wrote "In God We Trust" on a set of gallows erected at the Capitol.

"They want the warrior Christ who wields a bloody sword and defeats his enemies," says Du Mez. "They want to battle with that Jesus. That Jesus brings peace, but only after he slays his enemies."

And that Jesus sanctions the use of righteous violence if a government opposes God, she says.

"If you deem somebody in power to be working against the goals of a Christian America, then you should not submit to that authority and you should displace that authority," she says. "Because the stakes are so high, the ends justify the means."

Supporters of then-President Donald Trump gather on the Ellipse
near the White House to hear him speak on January 6, 2021.

That ends-justify-the means approach is a key part of White Christian nationalism, says Du Mez. It's why so many rallied behind former President Trump on January 6. She says he embodies a "militant White masculinity" that condones callous displays of power and appeals to Christian nationalists.

But with few exceptions, White Christian nationalists do not accept this "militant masculinity" when exhibited by Black, Middle Eastern and Latino men, Du Mez writes in "Jesus and John Wayne." Aggression by people of color "is seen as a threat to the stability of home and nation," she writes.

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson echoed this double standard last year when he said on a radio talk show that he never really felt threatened by the mostly White mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6.

"Now, had ... President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned," Johnson said.

Johnson later elaborated, saying "there was nothing racial about my comments-- nothing whatsoever."

This embrace of a warrior Christ has shaped some White evangelicals' attitudes on issues ranging from political violence to gun safety laws.

A survey last year by the Public Religion Research Institute revealed that of all respondents, White evangelicals were the religious group most likely to agree with the statement, "true American patriots might have to resort to violence in order to save the country."

There are also some White Christian nationalists who believe the Second Amendment was handed down by God.

Gun rights activists carrying semi-automatic firearms pose for a photograph
in the state Capitol Building on January 31, 2020, in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Samuel Perry, co-author of "Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States," wrote in a recent essay that among Americans surveyed who believe "The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation," over two-thirds rejected the idea that the federal government should enact stricter gun laws."

"The more you line up with Christian nationalism, the less likely you are to support gun control," wrote Perry. "Guns are practically an element of worship in the church of white Christian nationalism."

A belief there's such a person as a 'real American'

In the 2008 presidential election, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin introduced a new term to the political discourse. She talked about "the real America" and the "pro-America areas of this great nation." Since then, many conservative political candidates have used the term "real Americans" to draw contrasts between their supporters and their opposition.

Such language has been co-opted into a worldview held by many White Christian nationalists: The nation is divided between "real Americans" and other citizens who don't deserve the same rights, experts on White Christian nationalism say.

Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks
at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Gorski, author of "The Flag and the Cross," says he found in his research a strong correlation between White Christian nationalism and support for gerrymandering—an electoral process where politicians manipulate district lines to favor one party or, some critics say, race over another. He found similar support among White Christian nationalists for the Electoral College, which gives disproportionate political power to many rural, largely White areas of the country.

When White Christian nationalists claim an election was stolen, they are reflecting the belief that some votes don't count, he says.

"It's the idea that we are the people, and our vote should count, and you're not the people, and... you don't really deserve to have a voice," Gorski says. "It doesn't matter what the voting machines say, because we know that all real Americans voted for Donald Trump."

Why White Christian nationalism is a threat to democracy

Those who want the US to become a Christian nation face a huge obstacle: Most Americans don't subscribe to their vision of America.

The mainstreaming of White Christian nationalism comes as a growing number of Americans are rejecting organized religion. For the first time in the US last year, membership in communities of worship fell below 50%. Belief in God is at an all-time low, according to a recent Gallup poll.

A parishioner bows his head to pray while celebrating midnight Mass
at St. Patrick's Cathedral on December 24, 2021, in New York City.

Add to that the country's growing racial and religious diversity. People who identify as White alone declined for the first time since the census began in 1790, and the majority of Americans under 18 are now people of color.

On the surface, White Christian nationalism should not be on the ascent in America.

So White Christian nationalists look for salvation from two sources.

One is the emboldened conservative majority on the US Supreme Court, where recent decisions overturning Roe vs. Wade and protecting school prayer offer them hope.

Critics, on the other hand, say the high court is eroding the separation of church and state.

Not all Christians who support the high court's overturning of Roe v. Wade and its school prayer decision are White nationalists. For example, plenty of Roman Catholics of all races support racial justice yet also backed the overturning of Roe.

But White Christian nationalists are inspired by those decisions because one of their central goals is to erase the separation of church and state in the US.

A recent study concluded that five of the justices on the Supreme Court are the "most pro-religion since at least World War II," and that the six conservative justices are "all Christian, mostly Catholic," and "religiously devout."

The sun sets in front of the Supreme Court on June 28, 2022, in Washington.
A Supreme Court decision last month overturned the landmark
 Roe v. Wade ruling and erased a federal right to an abortion.

While some Americans fear the dangers of one-party rule, others like Pamela Paul, a columnist, warn of the Supreme Court instituting one-religion rule.

"With their brand of religious dogma losing its purchase, they're imposing it on the country themselves," she wrote in a recent New York Times editorial.

Gorski, the historian, says White Christian nationalism represents a grave threat to democracy because it defines "we the people" in a way that excludes many Americans.

"The United States cannot be both a truly multiracial democracy -- a people of people and a nation of nations -- and a white Christian nation at the same time," Gorski wrote in "The Flag and the Cross." "This is why white Christian nationalism has become a serious threat to American democracy, perhaps the most serious threat it now faces."

The other source of hope for White Christian nationalists is a former occupant of the White House. Their devotion to him is illustrated by one of most striking images from the January 6 insurrection: A sign depicting a Nordic-looking Jesus wearing a red "Make America Great Again" hat.

If Trump returns to the presidency, some White Christian nationalists may interpret his political resurrection as divine intervention. His support among White evangelicals increased from 2016 to 2020.

And what the men carrying wooden crosses among the Capitol mob couldn't achieve on January 6, they might yet accomplish in 2024.