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Recommended Reading: Christian Nationalism on TikTok; Evangelical Lobbyists Praying with SCOTUS Justices, More
There’s been some really interesting and troubling pieces published in the last week. Here are a few.
Over at The New York Times, Katherine Stewart wrote an op-ed called “Christian Nationalists Are Excited About What Comes Next.”
An excerpt from her op-ed:
“The Supreme Court’s decision to rescind the reproductive rights that American women have enjoyed over the past half-century will not lead America’s homegrown religious authoritarians to retire from the culture wars and enjoy a sweet moment of triumph. On the contrary, movement leaders are already preparing for a new and more brutal phase of their assault on individual rights and democratic self-governance. Breaking American democracy isn’t an unintended side effect of Christian nationalism. It is the point of the project.”
Stewart is the author of the incredibly well-reported book The Power Worshippers.
I spoke to her in my 2020 series, Powers & Principalities.
At Motherboard, Tess Owen writes about the rise of Christo-fascist content on TikTok:
On TikTok, ideologues from both ends of the spectrum are weaving together a shared visual language using 4chan memes, Scripture, Orthodox and Catholic iconography, imagery of holy wars, and clips from movies or TV featuring toxic male characters. Many of the videos, on their face, are innocuous enough, but they exist in close proximity to disturbing, violent, or explicitly white nationalist content.
It’s no accident that this community is expanding on TikTok, of all places, according to Thomas Lecaque, an associate professor of history at Grand View University in Iowa who focuses on apocalyptic religion and political violence. “You build your audience with a young demographic, and then you spread your ideas that way. This is how you build the next generation of fascists,” he said.
Finally, Rolling Stone reports that Peggy Nienaber, a lobbyist who works for Liberty Counsel, bragged about praying with Supreme Court justices:
At an evangelical victory party in front of the Supreme Court to celebrate the downfall of Roe v. Wade last week, a prominent Capitol Hill religious leader was caught on a hot mic making a bombshell claim: that she prays with sitting justices inside the high court. “We’re the only people who do that,” Peggy Nienaber said.
This disclosure was a serious matter on its own terms, but it also suggested a major conflict of interest. Nienaber’s ministry’s umbrella organization, Liberty Counsel, frequently brings lawsuits before the Supreme Court. In fact, the conservative majority in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion rights, cited an amicus brief authored by Liberty Counsel in its ruling.
In other words: Sitting Supreme Court justices have prayed together with evangelical leaders whose bosses were bringing cases and arguments before the high court.
What’s important to note for those who do not have experience within evangelical culture is that while this was certainly a flub on the part of Nienaber, it was absolutely a point of pride—which is why she was bragging about it. Evangelicals love to court power and seek dominion.
Which brings us back full-circle to Stewart’s op-ed. Stewart highlights that dominionism, including Seven Mountains Dominionism, which was once a quietly-held or fringe belief, is being mainstreamed:
“The intensification of verbal warfare is connected to shifts in the Christian nationalist movement’s messaging and outreach, which were very much in evidence at the Nashville conference. Seven Mountains Dominionism — the belief that “biblical” Christians should seek to dominate the seven key “mountains” or “molders” of American society, including the government — was once considered a fringe doctrine, even among representatives of the religious right. At last year’s Road to Majority conference, however, there was a breakout session devoted to the topic. This year, there were two sessions, and the once arcane language of the Seven Mountains creed was on multiple speakers’ lips.
The hunger for dominion that appears to motivate the leadership of the movement is the essential context for making sense of its strategy and intentions in the post-Roe world. The end of abortion rights is the beginning of a new and much more personal attack on individual rights.
And indeed it is personal. Much of the rhetoric on the right invokes visions of vigilante justice. This is about “good guys with guns” — or neighbors with good eavesdropping skills — heroically taking on the pernicious behavior of their fellow citizens. Among the principal battlefields will be the fallopian tubes and uteruses of women.”
Democrats, leftists, progressives, and activists need to read up on these trends. Christian nationalists are emboldened, and they rightly perceive (alongside many frustrated Democratic voters and activists) that the Biden administration as offering a weak response.
As I wrote before - they want to dominate. And the challenge must be met.
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