During the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Florida, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene argued that Christian Nationalism is a good thing. “That’s (Christian Nationalism) not a bad word. That’s a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with leading with your faith. If we do not live our lives and vote like nationalists—caring about our country, putting our country first, and wanting that to be the focus of our federal government—if we do not lead that way, then we will not be able to fix it.” Christian Nationalism is a political ideology and cultural framework that merges Christian and American identities. Unfortunately, the ideology distorts both Christian faith and America’s promise of religious freedom.

Those plugging Christian Nationalism as America’s rule of life believe Christianity must define America. There is an assertation that America is, and must remain, a “Christian nation.” This belief is not merely an observation of American history but a prescriptive program. Christianity is a privileged position, particularly in law and political policy. Therefore, people practicing other religions (or none, such as atheists) cannot be thoroughly American and are unwelcome. Non-Christian voices must be discounted, cannot be trusted with leadership roles, and are labeled ‘evil.’ Thus, the theology of hatred encourages adherent supporters that they are battling the forces of darkness.

From its beginnings, the Christian Nationalism movement has endorsed American exceptionalism, the idea that the U.S. is more righteous and upright than other nations and that only Christians can be the proper custodians of America’s heritage. The Bible declares that all human beings were made in God’s image and urges us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and neighbors as ourselves. Christian nationalists, however, choose to narrow those considered American, meaning we can only love only particular neighbors. Therefore, all others are enemies to be defeated, deported, or destroyed.

The Christian nationalists I’ve met pay zero attention to broader societal issues, including poverty, racism, healing of our planet, and international peace. Genuine morality rooted in truth, including an accurate understanding of history, failings, and successes, is pointless. Unfortunately, the ‘truth‘ of many Christians includes genocide, the reestablishment of slavery, racism, economic inequality, and the exploitation of natural resources. They are antithetical to the ideal that belonging in America is not predicated on what faith one practices or whether someone is religious. And they will use violence to reinforce their ideology.

Violent expressions, such as that seen on January 6, are not openly displayed. Instead, threats are more subtle. State legislatures (like Florida) promote Biblical teaching, and gender ideology is indoctrinating children; a former Alabama Supreme Court Judge wanted to post the Ten Commandments outside the courtroom God; some books are wrong; that if you’re black and walk alone, you’re probably up to no good; and if you’re Asian, you’re responsible for COVID. Such folks perpetuate the false narrative that to be genuinely American, one must be Christian, and often, only a particular type of Christian. This form of nationalism amplifies threats to religious freedom, drowns followers with anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Semitism, and demands government-sponsored religious ideals.

In the modern world, we are called to be an embodiment of good. Thus, the values uttered by nationalists will not unify Americans. We have always been a country of many faiths, even those without faith. Your value as a human being (or American) should not be determined by one’s claim to be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, shaman, Secular Humanist, or whatever. If you’re a true American, what matters is that we do not abuse others, deny rights, inflict punishments against women and minorities, or justify some ill-conceived holy war to overturn an election. Claiming to be superior, and that such superiority allows one to mandate how other, less powerful people are allowed to live or create a better life encourages the conditions for death and destruction being espoused today.

Mr. Trump gained power in large part by offering to preserve the influence of white evangelicals and their values. Unfortunately, American membership in houses of worship dropped below 50%. And just like most extreme ideologies, the world as they know is rapidly disappearing. Let’s hope nationalism disappears as well.